When we last left our heroes, they were in the Thermon catacombs. Battered and bruised, they pulled themselves together to check the final room left. Slowly they opened the door, and what they found left them speechless. Inside, a three foot tall wall of bodies was laid out, with four giant pillars, surrounding the once holy pool, now defiled by spilt blood. The room was littered with bodies and bones. Standing on the other side of the room, a caped figure with glowing red eyes stared back at them. The gaze entranced them, and then backed into the wall, fading to nothing.
Relieved, the party felt that they had found the source. However, just as things had calmed down, the room came to life! Bones rattled up from the floor; a skeleton, no more than a child and still clutching a teddy bear no less arose. On its flanks were two skeletons whose infested rotting skin still dangled from their hands. This looked like it was going to get tough.
The skeletons mindlessly charged toward the party. Donella, spooked by the quickly deteriorating situation, hit a spot of bad luck with her spells. They were able to move fast enough to dodge most of her onslaught. Fabian attempted to control the skeletons, with Nhym by his side. However, it was not enough to save the bard, and he went down with a mighty strike of the skinwalking skeleton’s rotting fist. Fabian fended off the bonewretch skeleton with a mighty blow to its ribs and shattered them, giving him long enough for an attempt to stabilize his party member, while Donella was still having a difficult time hitting with her spells.
The situation began to turn dire, and Donella let loose an acid arrow on the bonewretch skeleton. The skeleton, being highly mobile, was able to dodge most of the attack, but some acid was able to splash onto the skeleton’s spinal cord. Fabian, bruised and beaten, began to feel the pressure of having the three skeletons beating down on him, and with a final blaze of glory, shattered the bonewretch skeleton’s skull. Shortly after, the other skeletons were able to knock him unconscious.
Donella, with her first form of defense gone, was now left with her colleagues slipping ever closer to death, and two skeletons whose gaze focused on them. She began to use everything she could muster. She was able to hit the skeletons with quite an accurate blast of frost cloud, followed by a ball of fire, luckily missing her two unconscious party members.
The skeletons recognized that the heroes on the ground were still breathing and attempted to try hitting them. However, even in their advantageous state, their attacks were having more difficulty hitting them. Slipping ever closer to death, they were both on their last breaths. Luckily, Donella was able to destroy the two remaining skeletons before it was too late for her companions.
She woke them up, and they began to recoup some of their lost resources. Nhym, who was struck by the infested skinwalker skeleton, contracted yet another disease! He felt weak, as if his abilities had been sapped. He had contracted skinrot.
Before they left, they thought it wise to look around and see if there was anything useful. Nhym, remembering details the man that sent them on this quest saying that he had a son, picked up the acid-burned teddy bear. Fabian, looking around at a corner, found a suit of scale mail hanging on an armor rack. It was known as the “Armor of the Triumphant King” and it was said to bestow magical protection to whoever wore it. The armor had history; this same armor was worn by the first lord of Thermon. Upon the chest was the Thermon crest. Amongst the bodies, they were also able to pilfer two beautiful amethysts.
They were so busy looking around, that they didn’t hear the three drowned corpses lumbering out of the pool from behind them! Surprised, the corpses were able to move right up to the party. Fabian, still not fully aware of his senses, was unable to hit the one standing next to him, but Donella, already on her toes, blasted two of them away with a fire blast. Nhym lined up a shot and the remaining zombie took it between the eyes, falling back into the pool.
After they secured the room to ensure no more threats existed, they returned to town. At this point, it was now the dark and early morning, and surely nobody was up, save the tavern, innkeeper and the guards on shift. Fabian went to the tavern where Joon was obviously drunk out of his mind and unaware of most of the situation around him. Without skipping a beat and letting Fabian finish his report, Joon threw a coin purse on the bar and a piece of jade, which surely came out of the drunken man’s pocket by accident. Fabian scooped all of this up and walked away.
Then Fabian, unsure why, returned to the guard post and was greeted by Captain Tictannen. He debriefed the captain of undead in the old keep’s catacombs. The Captain looked shocked, most likely because he cannot believe that such a thing could go unnoticed by his guard. He proceeded to ask for name and rank, as he remembered that voice and presence, but couldn’t quite recall. At this point, Fabian made his goodbyes and went to find an inn. The fever had become overpowering.
The two gnomes called it a night almost right away. Nhym, after contracting a fever and overwhelming exhaustion, tried to sleep it off. Donella tended to him through the night. By morning, both their fevers had worn off, thanks to Donella for Nhym, but the weakness worsened in Nhym.
In the morning, the gnomes went out to the market to try to find an apothecary with a potion to cure this disease. Upon finding one, they had to split with one of their precious amethysts they had found. Immediately Nhym drank the bottle, and the relief could be seen sweeping through his body. He sang a song of joy.
Meanwhile, Fabian tried on the suit of scale mail, but was dismayed to find that the armor was in need of repair. He brought the suit of armor to Starn’s Smithy. The proprietor, Starn Longbeard, seemed distracted in his work. Fabian asked the dwarf if he could repair it. Starn replied somewhat snarky that he could, but it would cost 1000 gold. Fabian, obviously not having that much gold on him, gave him a “thanks but no thanks” answer. Starn replied with a counter offer; Starn has been looking for a piece of leather to work with to further his studies of leatherworking. Unfortunately, he’s been looking for a rare piece indeed, the hide of a pseudodragon. Without thinking about it much, he took the offer and walked off to inform the gnomes of the new job. In order to ensure the success, Starn repaired the armor free of charge with the expectation that he would return with the requested leather.
Nhym at this point decided to return to the tavern in hopes of finding the man they had previously talked to. Finally spotting him, Nhym walked up to the man, who was obviously distracted. Nhym talked to him for a little while, and pulled out the teddy bear, to which the man broke down, snagging the teddy bear and holding it close. Nhym tried to console him, but the man was too far gone to accept any help or pity. Nhym left him to his devices.
Fabian finally caught up with the gnomes, and told them of the job. However, Nhym was suspicious of the tale and wanted to confront the dwarf. So the party returned to the shop and began to question Starn. Starn, looking around, began speaking in a quiet tone. “Look, I know where that armor came from, and if you make it worth my time by giving me what I want or 1000 gold, so that I ‘neglect’ my civic duty.” Fabian didn’t take kindly to these words, as he believed it was in his right to have the armor, but didn’t want to stir any more trouble. The gnomes, enlightened on the situation, stood down on their questions, and the party set out to find the drake in question.
The party was pointed toward Mount Garzet , the mountain located on the southwest point of Thermon Plateau. The party took a day to travel, and eventually arrived at a cave entrance near nightfall. Fabian took about an hour to ensure that the cave was the cave that would definitely be a drake’s den. The markings on the ground, amongst other natural cues clued him into that this was the cave they were looking for. He decided to light a torch and take a peek inside. Strewn across the floor were bodies of what appeared to be adventurers; the party felt like they weren’t the only ones sent here for the prized hide.
At the end of the long cavern, two guard drakes munching on the bodies stood. They let out a deafening shriek, and Donella sent a flaming ball at them. The drakes avoided the blast, which landed in the bodies and set them ablaze. The drakes charged and started biting at the fresh meat. They were able to render the bard unconscious again, but with his new armor, Fabian was slightly more impervious. The bard was able to regain consciousness on his own, and jumped up to join the fray again. They were able to successfully dispatch their foes, which left them winded.
What sort of horrors lie deeper in the caverns? Will they be able to find their prized hide? Are there any other prizes to be found? Tune in next week…!