Our party was four now, with the addition of the elf Ranger. Varis, Anna, Eolian and Mondy took rest in the Boar’s Tusk following their first encounter with the Hand of Black. After much food and drink though, they rose to continue the task laid before them. The elimination of Fairmar’s bandit problem at it’s heart. The Tanner Mausoleum, was their destination and as they left the Inn they were met by a chilling winter storm.
It was slow going to the forgotten tomb while in town and near impossible once they exited the city limits. None among them could remember a storm so harsh and early in the winter season. To go from dusting to downfall in the matter of hours almost seemed, unnatural. Morale was high though, fresh from victory they trudged onward until they reached the doorstop of the Tanners. Before entry however, Eolian bid his friends pause and revealed his true nature. He was Phlox, Changeling Bravelord and he had a plan.
The mausoleum was a one story stone structure that was pitch black inside. With a snap of her fingers Anna lit the torches that revealed a stone antechamber to the group. No other door or panel was visible to them and save three stone disk inset in the wall opposite the entrance. Varis was quick to solve the riddle and unearth a hidden stairwell below the floor though. Phlox now set his plan into motion. Strutting brashly down the stairs ahead of his friends he took the visage of a bandit they had killed that morning.
When he was met by a guard on duty at the first intersection, he presented his newly tattooed arm for identification and then convinced the man to go on break. As the guard patrolled off, the changeling ushered his companions into the tomb proper. His luck was short lived however, when the guard returned with a friend and met the group in battle. Unbeknown to them, other events were unraveling not fifty meters done the hall.
A man dressed in black, shackled and badly beaten was being dragged to an unknown location further in the tomb. Shaitan was already working on his escape though, when fate smiled upon him. The two guards escorting him thought their prisoner as helpless, when they left him in a heap to assist their compatriots. He was quickly free of his bindings and joined the fray.
Seeing a third party take up their cause was all the adventures needed to at least trust this new man in battle. When the last of the Hand of Black had fallen introductions were made and Shaitan decided to join the group. From there they searched the sleeping chambers of the bandits and found a room where they had been storing the spoils of their assaults. Making a note to inform the local authorities the group returned to a jade disk they had seen at the tombs entrance.
Inset into the wall was a jade disk about two inches thick and twelves inches in diameter. Mondy adeptly slid his tendrils behind the object and easily pried from it’s resting place. Being the most knowledgeable about the nature of magics earned Anna the task of carrying the family seal. Upon searching the first grave however Anna heard the voice of a ghost in her mind. “Hello little thief, do you make a habit of robbing the the dead?”. Further defiling of the dead found Anna with a bloodied nose after being thrown into a wall by the spirit.
Deciding the best course of action would be to continue further into the tomb, the group now climbed a set of stairs toward heavy stone doors. At the landing before the doors the group was nearly dragged down by shadowy tentacles that rose from the ground. With the option to fiddle with the doors directly eliminated, Shaitan took on a shadowed form and passed through the trap and the doors. On the other side he discovered more bandits and quietly opened the doors for his friends.
Catching the bandits by surprise the party appeared to have the upper hand. Such was the case until both Anna and Varis were struck from behind by the daggers of two Half-Orcs rogues. Quick thinking by the party and even quicker heals from Phlox found them successful. Having dispatched the last of Hand of Black’s lackeys one set of doors now stood before them and their task.
Quietly opening the doors the adventurers discovered a large chamber of graves where a a robed man hunched over a basin of black ichor. The man appeared to be in mid conversation with an unseen voice…
Robed Man: “Master, preparations are complete, but my men are growing tired of simple highwayman’s work”
Mysterious Voice: “Patients child, our time approaches and very few obstacles yet stand in our…”
Mysterious Voice: “It seems you have visitors”
When the robed man realized he was not alone he quickly stood and faced his visitors, introducing himself as Blontug, lieutenant of the Hand of Black. He then threw back his robe to reveal that his entire right arm was missing. As he did so the ichor in the basin took on a life of it’s own. Snaking up the legs of Blontug to form a grotesque pulsing arm of ichor where his limb once was.
Blontug was fast, but the party was faster, they got the jump on him early and thought the battle might be over sooner than expected. The bandit leader had tricks of his own though, filling the large chamber with ichor and disappearing into the liquid. In his absence slime beast were summoned forth to attack his enemies. He then reappeared a final time before his was killed.
Searching the graves sent Anna flying backward into a wall again, this time giving her a mild concussion. Mondy then searched the dead bandit leader and when he first touched the ichor on the body he heard a voice deep in his soul…
“Give in to your fear, for hope is an illusion…I come for this world“
Taken a back by the voice, the Battlemind steeled himself and searched the body again where he found a copper pendant with a sickle inscribed on it’s face. It was clearly a powerful object, but was bound to the dead leader by dark magics. Further searching of the room finally revealed Sora Seppo, the smith’s kidnapped daughter, behind a hidden panel in the main chamber. The elf collapsed, badly beaten and told a tale of a corrupt father who she ran away from. Given the late hour the group decided to discuss the topic further in the morning.
Finding places to sleep in an old tomb was not easy, but once everyone was down they slept deep. All, but Anna, who took up watch in the hallways of the tomb in meditation. After many hours of silence she was startled by the sounds of flesh and bone being torn apart. She quickly woke Phlox and Monday and went to investigate. When they rounded the corner closest to the sound they were presented with a gruesome scene. A dark ent sat hunched over the body of a dead bandit eating the remains, covered in blood and sinew.