|At the Swinging Sword Inn|
|Spectre of the Haunted Tomb|
The Swinging Sword Inn smelled strongly of ale, sawdust, and sweat with an undercurrent of beef gravy that made a stomach rumble. Dagny took a swig of her ale as she looked around at her fellow adventurers. The drink was acceptable, but she wasn’t sure about the group yet.
There was a heavily bearded Barbarian with the unlikely name of Ralph. She’d never heard the like. He was on his third or fourth mug but they hadn’t had any effect on him so far that she could see. The druid, Renya, stood slightly apart from the rest of them and seemed to weigh her words as she too looked over her companions. Alani, the fighter, seemed a decent sort, but the monk Kasumi had a dangerous grin. She’d never met a monk before, especially not one that carried swords like that. Katana? They looked sharp and dangerous, but thin and delicate at the same time, much like the girl that carried them. Dagny grunted to herself and shuffled her feet, taking another gulp. Tall people were annoying. Everyone was so tall, especially the two brilliantly coloured dragonborne off to the side making a fuss and asking for information in loud voices. The monk looked as if she wanted to stab them.
At least the Inn was full of rumours and leads. She felt for her coin purse. It was light – too light. It had taken more of her funds to make it to Red Larch than she had anticipated, especially since she’d had to pay the Guild fees just before she’d gone. She wondered if she could possibly steer the group towards something lucrative. Of course, she wanted to get to the task at hand, but a dwarf had to eat. And drink. She took another sip and wiped the foam away with the back of her hand.
A number of things sounded promising, especially the hints dropped by the constable. A spire to the east. A possible haunted tomb. The trail the delegation from Mirabar had left behind. Dagny wondered if there were more to be learned from the locals if they could get on their good side. An opportunity presented itself in a wanted poster for four brigands who had robbed a merchant of a boar intended for sausage. Dagny’s stomach rumbled at the thought.
Even though it was late, they set off, Renya leading the way with her druidess skills and darkvision. Dagny followed behind, trying not to clomp too much. Stealth had never been her strong suit, nor, apparently, to most of the rest of their group. She found herself next to Sharatu, the dragonborne sorcerer as they came upon the bandit’s camp. The four of them were gathered by the fire, carousing over their ill-gotten gains. A bear growled in a cage upon the wagon. The druidess drew in a sharp breath of disapproval.
“I’m going to make the flames dance and project my dragon voice on the fire,” said Sharatu. Dagny used her small skill at thaumaturgy to make the ground shake as well. It worked better than any of them had anticipated – the four bandits shrieked and scattered.
They moved into the camp. The monk and sorcerer inspected a shallow cave filled with trade goods while Alani and Dagny went after the horses. Renya worked to free the trapped bear, with little success. But they had celebrated their success too soon – the bandits soon returned from whence they had scattered. Working in two groups, they managed to handily defeat the bandits.
After freeing the somewhat grateful bear, they returned the trade goods and what remained of the boar to the constable/butcher in Red Larch. As they had only managed to kill three of the bandits, the constable only gave them 15 gp rather than the promised 20, but the monk was able to talk him into a further reward for the other items returned.
The next morning brought more rumours to be heard. Vulture-riding knights who had been searching for earth cultists had passed through. It was said they had something to do with the Feathergill Spire. And there was a Sacred Stone Monastery in the hills, as well as four haunted keeps, though some did not seem to believe there was anything to fear there. The Baker seemed to have knowledge of many things, including a place called Lance Rock just southwest of town. He told tales of goblins and treasure to be found at the tomb, but Dagny had noticed an inscription upon the door of the bakery that made her suspicious of his intentions. The only thing good about him was the smell of bread.
They quickly visited the local All Faith Shrine, though they found out little there beyond more rumours of fire priests or druids. Dagny had hoped to buy a healing potion, but found them out of her range and contented herself with a quick prayer to Moradin.
After some arguing about the best option to continue their investigations, they headed down the Larch path. About five miles out of town, the druid spotted a track with prints. Large ones. They followed them to a stone door, which was slightly ajar. Dagny popped it open with thaumaturgy right before Seraphus would have attempted to bull his way through. There was a loud crash as pieces of metal and debris crashed down.
“That could have been bad,” said the Barbarian, clapping the dragonborne on the shoulder.
They crowded into a 30 foot wide chamber, the rough work obviously done by human hands and not dwarven ones. A spooky Wooowoowowo echoed from an iron door. Seraphus, perhaps annoyed at not having been able to knock aside the previous door, kicked the iron one and a spectral figure appeared, blocking their way. Inside, a coffin and chest could be seen.
It was not an easy battle for the dragons and he nearly died. Dagny was able to cure his wounds. They examined the chest first and it contained a book that looked to have some interesting inscriptions in it, to the joy of Sharatu, but as soon as they tried to remove it, it crumbled away. Too many long years and too much water had damaged it beyond repair. But underneath it they found a golden chain with a locked, a portrait of a half-elven maiden inside, and two silver and gold rings.
“These we can sell!” said Sharatu with joy, pocketing them until they could return to town. The monk turned a sharp eye upon him.
Seraphus put his hands upon the coffin. “Wait---“ said the druid but it was too late. He had already pried it open. Inside was an ancient skeleton with a longsword. The skeleton’s fingers seemed to twitch and the sword leapt into the air, wildly attacking them. As if drawn by the sound, a goblin and a half-ogre appeared down the hall with a shout.
Dagny was able to grab onto the hilt and shaft of the sword, holding it still enough that Seraphus could finally hit it. The sword shattered, leaving the dwarf holding the pieces. Meanwhile, the others had rushed the half-ogre and goblin. The barbarian had cleaved the poor creature in two, driving the larger one half-mad with grief, but his pain was shortlived as he too fell.
Breathing heavily, they all stared at each other. The digression had proved to be quite a bit more dangerous than they had anticipated. But the worse was yet to come. As the druid led the way through a cavern dripping with water, four stirges swooped in from all sides, their leathery wings sounding like a demon attack in the still air. Renya was set upon by two of the foul creatures, the blood drained from her body faster than if she had been struck by a sword.
The rest quickly worked together, killing the stirges as fast as they could. Dagny grabbed the body of one of the ones that had drained the druid’s blood and, with help from the rest and some re-purposed jeweller’s tools, they managed to drain a goodly portion of the blood from the stirge back into the druid. The monk grinned, splashes of blood barely showing on her red dress. “That was fun! We should do that again!” Dagny muttered a prayer under her breath. She had a feeling she was going to need all her god’s favour in the coming months.