This week, due to horrible weather, we were again down our regular players for Damakos and Bob. As a result, Lucifer was still sleeping in some bushes somewhere or something and Damakos was in the hands of someone else. Bob decided to hang around with the party, now under the hand of flatmate Claire.
After clearing out the kobold lair last week, the party grabbed the tons of weapons left lying around and headed on back to Winterhaven to report the good news to Lord Padraig. However, on returning to the town, they found the gates closed, the guards alert with their weapons drawn and a rather high militia presence. On seeing the party approaching Lord Padraig called out to them, telling them that people have disappeared from the town and undead monsters have started appearing. The party exchanged looks, and then grudgingly agreed to go look into the problem, the Lord promising them payment for doing so.
Heading off to the nearby cemetary, the party wondered if undead horrors would be any worse than kobolds. They decided they probably couldn't be, since Carric and Larrs had both developed nervous twitches whenever the 'k' word was mentioned. The cemetary loomed up in the distance, surrounded by a wrought iron fence. As they neared it, they noticed that some of the earth around the densely packed gravestones had been disturbed, and behind one of the three mauseleums a sickly glow was pulsing. As they neared the gateway, a horde of skeletons emerged, joined by a pair of zombie hounds. Behind them stood a female elf, armed with a sword and a longbow. If any of them had been paying attention at the time, they may have recognised the elf as the same one who had been sitting in the pub a couple of nights prior. As it was, they had totally ignored her, and so she seemed completely unfamiliar.
Carric, wasting no time, moved forward and lobbed a shuriken at one of the skeletons. He missed. Larrs then pulled Bob up to the front lines along with him, and then just sort of stood there trying to look menacing. Damakos, doing something useful, used his Cloud of Daggers spell to take out one of the skeletons. He then took a shortbow bolt to the arm along with Bob, while the elf narrowly missed hitting Larrs with her longbow.
Illyria made her way along the perimeter of the cemetary, concealing herself but ultimately failing to set off her Dire Radiance spell successfully. Bob, on the other hand, smacked a skeleton in the face so hard that it fell apart. Bob was happy with this. Swiftpaw was then made equally happy when Carric sent her to gnaw on a skeleton's spinal column. She got a bit carried away and proceeded to shake the thing apart as she tried to choose between vertebrae.
Larrs, finding that all the closer targets had been disposed of, took a shot at a skeleton with his sling and crushed its skull in with the shot. Damakos then downed and took out three of the skeletons by turning the ground to ice beneath them. The elf, severely annoyed, missed shooting the wizard in her frustration, and the skeletons swarmed the party, along with the two zombie hounds. One of them failed to bite Bob, but the other knocked Carric over, delivering a nasty bite to his leg which was unfortunately necrotic. To make matters worse, he was stabbed with a longsword. Larrs was also shot twice and Damakos took a stab wound of his own.
Illyria, still hiding behind the outer fence, took out one of the zombie hounds with Dire Radiance, while Bob took a hefty chunk out of the other one. Carric managed to get to his feet as his fox savaged another skeleton in her excitement. Larrs ordered Bob to help him flank the remaining hound, but the attack he made afterwards failed. Damakos attempted to use his Thunderwave spell but failed to do so, and then got stabbed in the leg while Larrs was shot in the chest. The zombie dog attempted to chew on Bob's leg, but didn't penetrate his plate mail, however Carric was shot in the back.
Illyria exploded one of the skeletons that moved to surround Damakos and Bob took a swing at the hound clinging to his leg. Unfortunately, this didn't put an end to it, but it wasn't looking too healthy by the end of it. Carric, apparently fed up of this, pulled out his Five Storms kung-fu awesomeness and smashed two skeletons to pieces, and Larrs decided on a very efficient course of action, healing himself, Damakos and Carric, pulling Damakos out of danger and shifting himself closer to the elf. Damakos, hoping to join in on the awesomeness, tried to pull off Thunderwave again. He failed again.
A skeleton lunged at Damakos and missed, but the hound finally managed to sink its teeth into Bob's leg, pulling him over and giving him a nasty necrotic wound. The elf made to move past Larrs and he tried to get an attack in, but unfortunately failed. And then the elf shot him.
Illyria missed the hound with a shot of Dire Radiance, but Bob, now angered, got up, shook the thing off his leg and used his dragonbreath to burn it to death. Or whatever the zombie equivalent is. He also singed the elf a bit, since she had wandered a little too close. Meanwhile, Carric made his way around the back of the mauseleums and took a look at the magic circle that was the source of the glow. On attempting to analyse it, he determined that it was magic. And glowy. And circular.
Larrs tried to fire a glue pot at the elf to hold her still, but he missed and settled for moving away a little bit and healing himself instead. Damakos tried to use Thunderwave again and finally hit something with it, downing the last of the skeletons and leaving only the elf to deal with. The elf, reacting badly to being burned, shot Bob rather seriously, and Illyria attempted to use Vampiric Embrace on her, but didn't quite manage. Bob healed himself quickly and then made his way over to the elf, landing a hefy Holy Smiting as he reached her. This left her very badly off, adn when Carric and Swiftpaw moved to flank her, she was downed in the resulting attack.
On looting the bodies, the party picked up the usual ton of weapons and a bit of money from the elf. They also found a sheet of vellum with a message for the elf written on it:
'I received your report on the adventurers. Next time you see them, put an end to their meddling. Mix the blood of ten people with the elixir my messenger brings. Then trace the following pattern on the ground of a graveyard and pour the liquid into the lines. That should supply you with a force to thwart them. I'm very close to completion; see that I'm not interrupted. As you already know, if you do come to the second level of the keep, the pass phrase is 'From the ground, some magic was found.' - Kalarel
After reading this and feeling vaguely worried, the party decided that they should really destroy the magic circle. Larrs and Damakos did fine with their end of things, but Illyria got distracted and messed up on her end of things, leading to an ominous creaking sound from somewhere. Damakos managed to fix it, however, and the circle disappeared.
The party returned to Winterhaven and were allowed into the city by a very happy Lord Padraig. He took them to the inn and bought their first round, as well as paying Larrsinan for their trouble. On the way to the inn, they dropped off the huge piles of looted weapons at the blacksmith's, but didn't bother staying around to pick up the money for them, instead agreeing to have it dropped off at the inn later. Larrs and Carric did stay around long enough to pick up some magic armour for Carric and a pact blade for Illyria, while the warlock in question took herself and Bob off to the pub where they found the grateful townspeople ready to buy drinks for them all night.
The night that followed was much fun for everyone except for possibly Damakos and Carric. The former spent the whole night huddled in a corner pretending not to know anyone in the party while Carric meditated. Larrs proceeded to seduce one of the waitresses and had a pleasureable night and morning after. Bob and Illyria seduced a waitress of their own, although they were so drunk that they couldn't actually remember much of what happened. They figured it had been pretty good though, given the general nakedness when they woke up. Swiftpaw also apparently had a good night, slinking in early in the morning looking awfully smug. Lord Padraig was heard remarking the next day that one of his pedigree hounds was looking rather pleased with itself.
However, resigning themselves to going and investigating the keep and hopefully putting a lid on the cult, the party got themselves together and headed out. As they neared it, they noticed how overgrown the general area was, seeing that not many people had come this way in a long time. They entered a clearing surrounded by old ruined pieces of masonry, at which point complete silence fell. Even the wind stopped blowing. Feeling more and more worried about this, the party moved on until they found a set of stairs leading down into darkness. The rubble had been cleared away from the area here, shoved aside to allow access to the entrance.
Slowly, the party descended the stairs towards a light at the base. A cold wind started to blow as they did, carrying the scent of unwashed bodies and the sound of chattering squeaks. As they neared the doorway at the bottom, a goblin came into view. As it sighted the party, it taunted them, and they got ready to attack.
Larrs started off by firing his sling at the goblin, but he missed, the shot glancing off one of the many pillars in the room. Bob charged forward to attack on Larrs' orders, but found himself landing in a spiked pit trap full of rats. The goblins advanced but didn't actually make any attacks, and so Damakos used his ice spell to knock two of them over. One of them lobbed a javelin and got Carric it in the shoulder. Illyria landed a Dire Radiance on a goblin that was sneaking up a side corridor towards them, and Bob got chewed on by the rats at the bottom of the pit that managed to get into the elbow joints in his armour
Larrs made the executive decision to haul Bob out of the pit, but had buried his rope at the bottom of his kit and had to stop and dig it out. While he was doing that, he ordered Carric to to hit the goblins, but he missed due to them being too far away.
Bob languished in his pit, managing to pull himself off the spikes and try to stop the rats chewing on his elbows. Carric then landed a hit on a goblin with Swiftpaw's help. One of the goblin archers got up from the patch of ice further up the corridor and fired on the fox, but thankfully missed and Damakos managed to lower the rope down to Bob to get him out of the pit. Another of the goblins threw a spear past Carric's ear while the one down the side corridor managed to hit Illyria. Distracted by the injury, she failed to retaliate.
Now out of the pit, Bob brushed the rats off his elbows and advanced on the goblin down the side corridor. He marked it, but when trying to hit it with a Holy Strike, he apparently forgot how to use his sword. Behind him, the goblin archers took a chunk out of the fox and Carric with some well-timed shots and Damakos tried to take care of the side-corridor goblin with Cloud of Daggers. Unfortunately, it only took a little damage before sidestepping the cloud and stabbing Bob. Illyria, unhappy that her new best friend was being attacked, proceeded to blast the thing to bits with an Eldritch Blast and Larrs was quickly healed by Bob, while Carric hid himself and did some healing of his own.
Bob, now bored with the proceedings, moved round the corridor hoping to come across a bar or drinks cabinet of some sort. Instead, he found a heavy tapestry curtain that he paused in front of, wondering if there were any goblins behind it. Illyria followed him through, in her opinion, lack of anything better to do.
The two remaining goblins suddenly high-tailed it away from the party, which was considered a bad thing since they were probably heading off to regroup with other things that wanted the party dead. In order to stop them, Carric, Larrs and Damakos came up with a plan that was either brilliant or really, really, really dumb.
Damakos, having illusion magic, proceeded to project what he hoped was the image of (since this was not something the party was familiar with) a sexy female goblin in hopes of luring the fleeing goblins back. This failed miserably, and the goblins disappeared into the darkness of another staircase leading deeper into the keep.
Regrouping, the party shared nervous glances at the staircases and hesitated before moving on.