Session 43: Cold Storage and Hot Flashes

The eight unarmored female hobgoblins grabbed spears and rushed to attack the group, as two younger hobgoblins armed themselves with slings and daggers.

Valeria instructed everyone to back up and lure the hobgoblins into the corridor.

As Philip weaved into the front of the group, he had to dodge a spear thrown at him. Four other spears were directed at Prynhawn, who knocked two aside, and was hit by the others two. From behind the group, Yanliz shot one of the hobgoblins. Valeria cast faerie fire, illuminating seven of the hobgoblins in a violet glow. Five more hobgoblins stabbed at Prynhawn and Philip, who avoided all of their blades. Vernim cast cure wounds on Lawrence. Dubricus threw a fire bolt from the back, but could not hit a hobgoblin through the crowd.

Philip swung his staff at one of the hobgoblins that wasn't glowing, knocking it off its feet, and fatally kicked it in the head on the way down, before disengaging. Lawrence dropped three glowing hobgoblins with scorching rays, and Dubricus dropped another with a fire bolt. Prynhawn deflected four hobgoblin spears. Yanliz shot at a hobgoblin that wasn't glowing and cursed when his shot missed. Valeria blasted a hobgoblin that wasn't glowing with eldritch blast. One of the hobgoblin striplings stabbed Prynhawn in the back with its dagger. Vernim killed one of Prynhawn's attackers with a crossbow bolt. Prynhawn dropped his spear and slashed his longsword across the hobgoblin stripling's chest.

Philip cracked open the head of the hobgoblin he had been fighting. Lawrence and Dubricus each shot a fire bolt at the last hobgoblin that wasn't glowing. Lawrence missed, but Dubricus hit, leaving it writhing on the ground until Yanliz finished it with an arrow. Valeria tried to catch one of the striplings with an eldritch blast, but missed. It shot a sling at Philip, but the halfling caught the stone and threw right back at the wounded stripling, hitting it fatally right between the eyes. Vernim dropped the last hobgoblin with a crossbow bolt.

Aseneth made sure all the hobgoblins were dead, killing one that was still breathing, while Dubricus searched them for any treasure.

Brother Martin and Opal tried to bandage everyone's wounds.

Vernim began to pick up the sandbox table, but stopped when everyone groaned as the sand drawing began to shift. Lawrence and Valeria scribbled the drawing from the sandbox onto a parchment.
Valeria asked Vernim to search the room for secret doors, and eventually he found a hollow sounding section. He searched for a way to open the section, but could not. Exhausted and defeated, he collapsed against the wall, and heard a snap as his weight caused something to shift and a panel opened in the wall.

Convinced that they were in no shape to risk further encounters, they closed the panel, and headed back to the king's chamber.

In the king's chamber, Vernim retrieved the tapestry depicting Lady Durnsay and the Bugbears.
Searching the room, Vernim found an unusually heavy bronze chamber pot, and promptly put it down.

Valeria picked up the pot, and after examining it, found a false bottom that held hundreds of copper pieces and dozens of silver pieces, as well as a dozen large rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. She checked to see if any of them were fake, and though the copper and silver appeared to be real, the gems were actually glass, similar to what they had found in the kobold lair.

Dubricus noticed that some of the wolf pelts might be valuable. Looking through them, they found four that were not too soiled.

Valeria called for a vote, which resulted in Brother Martin, Lawrence, Philip, Prynhawn, Dubricus voting to return to the keep, and only Yanliz voting to stay, with everyone else abstaining.

They left the cave and made their way back to the road.

After almost an hour, they saw a camp ahead on the side of the road. They soon recognized the pilgrims of Quonzar. They seemed to be looking around, especially scanning the treeline towards the keep.

Lawrence noticed that there were only eleven of them, and there had been twelve.

Vernim commented that the one labeled a heretic was absent.

As they approached, the pilgrims greeted them and Brother Arvind explained that one of their members had gone missing. They had all stopped for lunch a couple of hours ago, and one seemed to wander off almost an hour ago. They hoped she would return soon.

"Was it the one who had the vision?" Vernim inquired.

"Oh no," Brother Arvind replied. "Brother Taghrid is right here. It was Sister Betik that has not returned."

"What are you going to do?" Philip worried.

"I don't know what we can do," Brother Arvind admitted. "We've looked around. All we can do now is wait."

"Do you know which direction she went?" Prynhawn asked.

"No, we didn't even notice she was gone," Brother Arvind explained. "We all camped here for lunch, relaxing from the day's march, and the next thing we knew, she was gone. At first we didn't think anything of it—"

"What do you mean you didn't think anything of it?" Sister Naresh blurted out. "How many times—"

"I'm sure she'll come back," Brother Arvind tried to assure her.

"Why?" Sister Naresh challenged. "The others haven't come back—"

"How many others?" Prynhawn asked.

"She's the third to go missing since we began our journey." Sister Naresh explained. "It's a curse!"

"Our journey is not cursed, Sister Naresh." Brother Arvind insisted.

"Then how do you explain everyone going missing?" Sister Naresh pressed.

"I don't know," Brother Arvind replied. "Maybe they lost faith."

"Really?" Sister Naresh retorted. "Lost faith? Really?"

"Well," Valeria interjected, "we should probably be headed on our way. It's still a few hours journey back to the keep. We wish you luck."

"Safe travels," Brother Arvind wished them.

"Is there anything we can do to help you?" Vernim asked.

"I don't know," Brother Arvind wondered. "Do you have any way to help find her?"

The group considered their magic, and concluded there was not much they could do.

Philip suggested they could make their camp here for lunch, but Valeria was eager to move on and objected.

When they were out of earshot, Dubricus whispered, "I have an idea. Yanliz is a ranger, isn't he? Couldn't he try to track her?"

"Yanliz, what do you think?" Vernim asked the ranger. "Do you think you could help by tracking her?"

"Sure, I can try," Yanliz agreed. "Whatever you all want."

"Sure," Valeria reluctantly agreed.

As they returned to the pilgrims they heard some of them suggesting that their missing companions may have been taken by Quonzar. The pilgrims seemed to be evenly divided on the likelihood of this suggestion.

"We thought about it," Valeria called out, "and there might be a way we could help."

"You can try, but good luck," one of them replied.

"Any assistance would be greatly appreciated," Sister Naresh replied, enthusiastically. "How can you help?"

Yanliz soon began searching the ground in the area they indicated Sister Betik was last seen, slowly extending out to the forest.

"I've always been curious about how this works," Philip admitted to Yanliz.

"Fine," Yanliz replied. "You can come with me."

Together they spent almost an hour circling around in gradually widening circles, but he could not pick up any tracks leading off in the distance.

Philip apologized for not being able to help them, and they were soon on their way.

After another hour, they made camp between the road and the treeline. Philip prepared cold snacks for them. Yanliz cast alarm, and scouted the surrounding area and pointed out what he said were graves, based on the shape of the disturbed earth. There were no tombstones, and they left the area without disturbing it further.

After a short rest, they completed their journey back to the keep.

It was late when Wort and Joop lowered the drawbridge and raised the portcullis for them.

Vernim asked Sabine about Cob.

"He has not yet returned," Sabine answered, "but he has taken days to return in the past. I would not have thought anything of it, except that when he left he said he was going to catch up with you."

They quietly returned to the tavern, which was mostly empty.

Philip asked Brother Martin when he held his sermons.

"I have not been holding formal sermons at the chapel," Brother Martin replied, "but I could certainly do so if enough are interested. Otherwise, I could prepare some topics of discussion that would be inspirational and informative."

Valeria decided they should deposit their coins in the bank for safekeeping in the morning, before heading back to the caves, even though that would mean delaying their journey. Aseneth said she would wait at the tavern until they were ready to depart. The others agreed to go to the bank with them.

In the morning, they visited the sturdy stone building and found the door to be locked. Lawrence knocked on the door, and promptly heard the loud clack of a latch, followed by a high pitched voice, "Come on in."

They entered and found a halfling behind the counter, obviously standing on a raised platform.

"Greetings," the halfling called. "Ah, adventurers. I was wondering when you would stop by. Do you have any chests you need unlocked? Traps removed?"

"Hello. No," Valeria replied. "We just want to secure some things."

"It's a great service you provide here." Philip added. "Being able to secure our belongings is really helpful."

Vernim considered whether they should store their tapestry here or keep it in their room. He was reluctant to let it out of his sight, suggesting the work of art was a blessing from Tymora.

"If you want to store something securely in your room," the halfling suggested, "I can sell you a strong lock box."

Resting on a counter in the rear they saw a half suit of plate mail and a suit of chainmail propped against the wall.

"I can hold whatever treasure you like, for only one percent per week, due upon receipt of your treasure," the halfling explained. "Payment is easier that way."

They handed over the sacks of copper coins from the kobold lair, as well as the copper coins Dubricus had collected from the goblins. The banker's small hands quickly counted the coins, which he said totaled 5,613.

Still undecided about the tapestry, Dubricus asked, "Don't we want to sell it?"

"I don't think we should sell it right away," Prynhawn suggested, "until we settle this place."

"Art is a special source of luck," Vernim expounded, "as it is not only valuable, but is also a source of inspiration."

"I do buy treasure," the banker commented. "I also pawn wares, in case you need a loan. You know, in the event there's something you want to buy. Are you in the market for anything?"

"What do you have?" Lawrence asked.

"Let me see what I have handy," the halfling muttered, removing some items from under the counter. He placed a gold signet ring, with an ankh engraving, to the side. He gestured to the counter in the rear. "Besides what you can see, I have this precious piece I think might interest you." He revealed an ornate dagger with jewels decorating the hilt and matching scabbard.

"How much would that cost us?" Lawrence inquired.

"I can let that go for 600 gold," the banker returned.

"Did you make that?" Philip gasped.

"No, no," the banker acknowledged. "I'm not that talented."

"Where did you find it?" Vernim asked.

"Someone brought it here," the halfling explained. "They said they would come back for it, but they never did."

"How long ago was this?" Vernim inquired.

"I don't remember," the banker replied. "Why? Are you writing a book?"

"What's it to you?" Vernim countered. "Potentially."

"You can get out!" the bank reprimanded.

Vernim promptly walked out. Opal followed close behind

"Is there anything else I can help you with, or are we done?" the banker demanded. "What's it to me!" he repeated, clearly annoyed.

"I'm sorry." Philip stammered.

"What's with your friend?" the banker asked.

"He didn't mean anything by it," Lawrence assured.

"If you want to buy or sell something, I'm happy to do business," the banker continued, "but I don't know what's with the twenty questions. I run a discreet business."

"And we appreciate that," Lawrence agreed.

"As most people do," the banker concurred.

Philip and Lawrence left to join Vernim.

"I'm sorry," Philip sympathized with Vernim.

"That's okay," Vernim replied. "You didn't do anything."

"Are you still interested in leaving the tapestry?" Lawrence asked.

"I suppose," Vernim considered.

"I don't know what was with him!" Opal fumed. "I've never seen him like that before." She stormed back in.

Philip followed.

"What's wrong with you, Mouse?" Opal ranted. "Why did you have to treat him like that?"

"Opal," Philip whispered, "can we talk a little bit? I kind of—"

"Alright, calm down, Opal," Mouse reacted calmly. "Don't go crazy. Let's all stay sane here."

Opal stormed back out, and Philip continued to follow her.

"I don't understand people sometimes," Mouse shrugged.

"I apologize for all that irrational behavior," Valeria offered.

"It's fine," Mouse replied. "It's just that I deal with a lot of valuables, and I can't put up with any nonsense."

They all went back inside the bank.

"Do you have any healer's kits for sale?" Vernim asked Mouse.

"I do not, but you should try the Quartermaster's shop, around the lane," Mouse suggested.

Vernim moved to leave as Valeria and Lawrence asked him for the tapestry. As he continued walking, apparently oblivious to them, they shouted at him, but he continued on, and left.

Vernim entered the Quartermaster's, and was immediately greeted by an older man with a receding hairline and a black beard. "Welcome to Moseley's Quartermaster Shop. I'm Moseley. How can I help you?"

"Good morning," Vernim greeted. "I'm looking for some healer's kits."

"Let me check." Moseley replied, looking through his shelves. Eventually he returned. "I only have five left."

"How much are they?" Vernim inquired.

"They're five gold coins." Moseley indicated.

"Thank you," Vernim responded. "Do you have any other clerical items?"

"I don't sell any clerical items," Moseley explained. "You may want to try the chapel."

Vernim thanked him and left, empty handed.

"I'm sorry about all that." Vernim apologized to Opal. "I misunderstood."

"Oh, you don't have anything to be sorry about," Opal sympathized. "You didn't do anything wrong. In fact, I wanted to tell you, I really like the way you handle yourself. Like the way you appeased everyone by suggesting there should be a fair fight. I thought that was really clever. You're such a smart guy! I don’t understand why some people think that everything has to follow some set of rules that are set in stone. Every situation is different. Every moment is different. We should be able to change our minds without constantly being questioned about it. I don't understand people.”

"I'm really glad you feel that way," Vernim echoed. "You really nailed it. And you always bring a really good perspective to things. You're doing a great job."

He began to lead her back to the tavern, when she paused and asked, "Do you want some milk? Or how about a moon cheese pie? You can meet my sister..."

"I would love to," Vernim replied, "but do we want to do that right now? You're doing us such a favor by spending all this time with us. It's only fitting that I..."

"Well, it's a welcome change from milking cows." "I'm just glad that my sister and her daughter have been able to fill in for me while we've been adventuring, which is far more important."

"Tell me more," Vernim prompted.

"What else do you want me to say?" Opal asked.

"Let's check in with the rest of the party," Vernim suggested.

They met the rest of the group heading to the tavern. Aseneth joined them at the tavern, and they soon headed out.

"I'm sorry things had to go like that," Philip consoled.

"It's fine," Vernim assured. "I'm not bothered."

"Vernim," Valeria called, "you never answered my question! Do you want to store the tapestry in the bank?"

"While I understand how it might be safer there," Vernim explained, "this is a clear symbol of Tymora, to me. Not only is it valuable, there's a core meaning behind the artwork."

"And we'll still own it once it's in the bank," Valeria replied.

"Isn't that part of the party's treasure?" Dubricus questioned.

"Oh, yes," Vernim agreed. "It does not belong to me."

"It's definitely a difficult question—" Philip began.

"But I think it is extremely lucky," Vernim continued.

"And I think we should put it in the bank," Valeria pressed, "so we don't lose it, or damage this lucky item."

"What good is luck if we don't use it?" Vernim retorted.

"We're just risking the money that we can get for this tapestry by bringing it with us," Valeria argued.

"We wouldn't sell it!" Vernim insisted.

"You could keep it in my house," Opal offered.

"Why don't we just give it to the bank," Valeria maintained, "because it's safest in the bank. It's definitely safer in Opal's house than it is in the tavern, but it's even safer in the bank. And it's much safer anywhere in the keep than it is bringing it with us to the caves!"

"I don't mean to sound greedy," Dubricus interjected, "and, whatever everyone decides is fine with me — it's not like I need the money or anything — but, shouldn't we find out how much it's worth?"

"I agree with that," Lawrence concurred. "It's not like this tapestry has any powers. Its power is completely symbolic."

"I suppose there's no harm in that," Vernim elucidated, "but the point I wish to make, is that this is not simply gold. It is a piece of artwork. Someone has devoted time to creating this. It has this idea of pureness and monsters, good versus evil, and I think it serves as something lucky for us. It serves as a symbol of victory. And although we could put it in the bank, what good is it to us then?"

"I think that coins will allow us to purchase weapons and supplies that help us be victorious," Lawrence suggested.

"It's just going to be rolled up in your bag," Valeria indicated, "and that's not going to make it any more useful to us."

"It's a difficult decision—" Philip began.

"What is the difference between putting it in the bank," Prynhawn contended, "and putting it in your bag?"

"I suppose." Vernim clarified, "I suppose my reservations are, I don't know if we can entirely... I'm not sure I entirely trust this halfling."

"What's he going to do?" Lawrence alluded, "pack up his things and skip town?"

"You don't trust halflings?" Aseneth accused.

"No," Vernim insisted. "It has nothing to do with the fact that he's a halfling."

"I'm sure," Philip endorsed.

"I don't entirely, yet, trust Mouse," Vernim finished.

"For what it's worth," Brother Martin offered, "Mouse has been doing business at the keep for a long time."

"That's fair," Lawrence offered, "you don't have to entirely trust him. But he could take much more valuable things."

"Okay, I concede" Vernim finally conceded.

"It's definitely a difficult decision," Philip repeated. "I'm glad we got it all worked out, but yeah."

"I think with every action we make," Lawrence offered, "we take a certain leap of faith. And we just have to accept that we're never going to know the true consequences of our actions until they unfold."

"I really like that!" Brother Martin praised.

They went back to the bank where they found the door locked once again. Again Lawrence knocked and promptly heard the loud clack of the latch, followed by a "Come on in," from the now familiar Mouse.

"How can I help you?" Mouse asked when they entered.

"We've come to add this tapestry to our holdings," Valeria explained.

Vernim handed over the tapestry and Mouse examined it. "This looks pretty valuable."

"Is there anyone here that could appraise it?" Lawrence asked.

"You're looking at 'em," Mouse grinned, withdrawing a monocle and placed it over an eye, continuing to examine the tapestry.

Finally, "To the right buyer, you might be able to get 1,000 gold coins for this."

"We're not interested in selling it," Vernim stated.

"For now," Prynhawn added.

"I'll charge you five gold coins per week," Mouse confirmed, "payable when you retrieve it."

They agreed, and left the tapestry with Mouse.

"Happy adventuring!" the banker called as they departed the bank.

The group gathered their gear and made their way back to the caves uneventfully.

Once there, they returned to the goblin cave and searched the areas they had already explored.

In the eastern guard post, they noted that the spears that had been in the barrel were now gone. , Philip refilled his wine skin with beer from the other barrel. They searched, but did not find anything else of interest.

They went up the stairs to the barricaded room, remembering not to trip over the tripwire stretched across the stairs. They searched the room without moving the barricaded furniture, and did not find anything else of interest.

They went back down the stairs and continued to the western guard post. They searched the walls as well as the benches and barrels. They noted the spears had also been removed from the barrel. When they lifted the keg, they found a sack in a hollow underneath it. They picked up the jingling sack and found it filled with gold coins, which they confirmed were not painted copper.

Vernim praised Tymora for their fortuitous discovery.

They searched the walls in the corridors, including some dead end passages, but did not find any hidden doors. They did not explore any of the three dead end passages that they found contained portcullis traps.

They made their way passed the goblin's common quarters and returned to the room with the sandbox map and the secret door.

Passing through the secret door, they entered a fifty foot corridor that ended in 'T' intersection. To the left, they saw stairs going up.

They explored to the right, where the corridor quickly opened into a completely empty twenty by forty foot room.

They returned to the stairs, which went up for about twenty feet and then soon opened into a twenty foot square room with doors on the west and south walls. The room was bare except for remnants of broken furniture.

They opened the door to the west and entered a twenty by fifty foot room. There was another door in the east wall, adjacent to the door they entered from. Otherwise, the room was empty except for some wood debris.

While searching the room, Brother Martin spotted a needle trap in the door, but it did not appear to be active and they passed through the door into a small ten foot square chamber with another door in the opposite wall.

Passing through this door, they entered another small room with only some broken furniture, and what appeared to have been a barrel. Searching this room, Valeria found an off-colored panel in the stone wall on the south side of the eastern wall that seemed to indicate a secret door. She could not figure out how to open it, but Lawrence figured out how to press it so that a ridge popped out that he used to slide the panel aside.

The secret door revealed a twenty foot corridor, only six feet high, ending in what appeared to be the back of another secret door.

Ducking through the corridor and passing through the second secret door, they entered another twenty by fifty foot chamber. Inside, the air was filled with aromatic smoke. Ten hobgoblin corpses hung from wicked-looking metal hooks driven into the stone walls. There was another door on the north side of the opposite wall. The smoke came from a covered smoke-pot in the southeast corner.

They searched the room and examined the bodies. No one found any hidden doors. The corpses all smelled like cured meat, and though they had various wounds from weapons, they appeared to be well preserved.
Suddenly, while they were examining the corpses, one of them flinched, and then six of them began moaning and flailing about. Despite their thrashing about, the hobgoblin zombies could not shake themselves free of their hooks.

Valeria, Yanliz, Dubricus, Opal, Prynhawn, Vernim, and Brother Martin attacked the zombies, to put them out of their misery.

Valeria whacked a zombie so hard that it fell free of its hook. Before it could attack, Dubricus put it down with a fire bolt in its face. The six zombies were soon dead. Aseneth suggested they burn the zombie corpses so they don't reanimate, which Lawrence and Dubricus assured with a series of fire bolts.

They realized that they were exploring the area that had been mapped out in the hobgoblin sandbox.

They passed through the unlocked door in the east wall and entered a corridor that quickly turned right and then left. From there, they saw a side passage on the right wall after twenty feet, and the corridor continued straight on for another twenty feet before angling to the right.

Glancing into the side corridor, they saw row after row of skeletons and zombies standing in neat ranks.
They entered the room and Vernim held his amulet of Tymora aloft and, shouting, "In the name of all that is good and holy, unlucky creatures begone from this world!" using his channel divinity.

Fourteen of the undead, nine of the skeletons and five of the zombies, threw up their arms and turned, fleeing to the rear of the chamber.

Valeria cast faerie fire, illuminating eight of them in a violet glow.

As the six remaining undead advanced towards Vernim, Philip darted forward, flailing on a zombie with his staff and kicks. Opal finished that zombie with her mace, taking its head off its body. Lawrence moved to the side where he caught two zombies and two skeletons in his burning hands, dropping one of the skeletons. Vernim swung his warhammer clumsily at an advancing zombie, using his warding flare to avoid its attempt to slam him. Brother Martin grazed the zombie with his mace. Two skeletons swung their swords at Vernim. Prynhawn slashed his sword into one of the skeletons. Yanliz missed a shot at a zombie attacking Vernim, but Dubricus finished it with a fire bolt. Aseneth made sure the fallen zombie would not rise again.

Valeria hit the other zombie, that was attacking Vernim, with an eldritch blast. Philip attacked the same one, dropping it with a kick and a strike from his staff. As the halfling turned to face a new opponent, the zombie rose again. The monk flipped backwards, landing on the rising zombie, flattening its skull with his bare foot. Opal hit one of the skeletons with her mace. Lawrence grabbed a skeleton with his chill touch. Vernim dropped one of the skeletons with his warhammer. Brother Martin and Prynhawn both hit the other. Yanliz shot an arrow at it, but it went right through its ribs. Dubricus finished it with a fire bolt. Aseneth continued to ensure the fallen zombies would not rise again.

With the rest of the skeletons and zombies clawing at the rear wall, Valeria drew her longsword and slashed into a turned and glowing zombie. Philip dropped it with his staff and a kick, but it quickly rose to fight again until Opal finished it with her mace.

Lawrence hit the next turned and glowing zombie with a fire bolt, which spun around and slammed into Opal with its fists. Vernim and Brother Martin bludgeoned the zombie. Prynhawn swung his sword at it, cutting it in two.

Yanliz shot an arrow right into the skull of a glowing and turned zombie, knocking it to the ground, but it quickly started to rise again until Dubricus finished it with a fire bolt. Aseneth continued to ensure the fallen zombies would not rise again.

Valeria slashed her sword into the next glowing and turned zombie. Philip followed up with bludgeoning strikes, as did Opal. Lawrence hit it with a fire bolt. Vernim dropped it with his warhammer, but it continued to stir. Brother Martin smashed its skull with his mace.

Prynhawn split open the last turned zombie with a single stroke.

They turned their attention to a glowing skeleton that was scrambling along the wall and managed to avoid Yanliz and Valeria's swords, a fire bolt from Dubricus, and Opal's mace. Philip smashed its bones with his staff and a leaping kick, rolling out of the fray. Lawrence finished it with a fire bolt.

Vernim, Brother Martin, Prynhawn, and Yanliz finished the next glowing skeleton.

Dubricus hit the last glowing skeleton with a fire bolt. Valeria hit it with her sword. Philip smashed it to pieces with his staff and back kicked another skeleton. Opal finished the next skeleton with her mace.

Lawrence threw a fire bolt at the next skeleton, but accidentally hit Valeria. Vernim smashed the skeleton to bits with his warhammer.

The next skeleton avoided Brother Martin, Prynhawn, and Yanliz's swings, as well as a fire bolt from Dubricus. Valeria finally crushed it with her sword.

Philip smashed the next skeleton apart with his staff, and kicked a different one. Opal hit it with her mace and Lawrence finished it with a fire bolt.

Vernim and Yanliz missed the last skeleton, but Brother Martin and Prynhawn hit it. Dubricus finished it with a fire bolt.

They searched the room, and Valeria thought the entire rear section of the ceiling looked off-color, like it could be trapped, but no one else saw it. They did not find anything of interest, and continued down the corridor.

After thirty feet they came to an intersection. To the left was a door, which their map indicated was the exit with the skulls nailed to the door. Ahead the corridor turned right after twenty feet. To the right, the corridor led to stairs going up.

Everyone backed up and Prynhawn opened the door. Nothing happened and they verified that it was the exit, closing the door so as to deflect suspicion from any scouts passing by.

They went up the stairs. After twenty feet they soon reached a 'T' intersection. To the left, they saw the corridor ended in a dead end after forty feet. They searched the area for secret doors, but found none.

They went the other way and a strange mixture of living area and tomb met their eyes as they entered a large chamber. The front of the seventy foot long room was furnished with a table, comfortable chairs, and a bed, while the back section held mortuary slabs and coffins—some of them obviously occupied. The room was lit from candelabra set in all four walls and a single tall candle on the table. Two skeletons dressed like maids and two corpses dressed like footmen stood on either side of the room, their backs against the walls. All were armed with short swords.

A skeleton dressed in a slinky black gown with elbow-length gloves and a corpse in a rich red-velvet dressing gown were toasting each other with empty goblets. They turned their dead faces and stared at the group. Then they turn to face each other again, lowering the goblets. “Guests?” the skeleton said, in a very feminine voice. “So it would appear,” the other replied in a deep, rich voice.

"Thank you for inviting us," Vernim said. Then, turning to the group, he said, "They're abominations. We should destroy them."

"Why would you want to destroy us?" the skeleton asked. "Come in and have a toast."

"About what?" Lawrence asked.

"Life? Death?" the skeleton offered.

"I like that, Skeltar," the zombie agreed. "Life and death! Let's have a toast!"

"Cheers, Zombire," the skeleton said.

"Why would you invite us?" Vernim asked. "To keep us in your company?"

"You've entered our home," the skeleton replied. "You are our guests."

Philip started to move forward aggressively with his staff.

"No," Vernim said to Philip, "tell them you're going to attack first!" Vernim flipped his coin, and added, "Tymora insists that this be a fair fight."

Philip rushed forward as Vernim began to apologize to the undead couple and the Skeltar ripped a bead off her necklace and threw it at the group.

Philip momentarily considered catching the missile, but leaped to the side when he saw that it was glowing.

Flames erupted where Valeria, Yanliz, Opal, and Lawrence stood. Vernim, Prynhawn, Brother Martin, Dubricus, and Aseneth all ran for cover, but the blast overwhelmed all except for Vernim and Prynhawn.

"Opal!!!!" Vernim screamed in agony.

Philip continued his charge, jumping over the table and attempting to grab the Skeltar's necklace, which had three more beads. The Zombire tried to reach Philip with a chill touch, but the halfling was too nimble. Philip spun about, dropping his staff, and grabbed the necklace from the Skeltar, dashing back to the group. One of the maids followed Philip.

The couple lashed out at the halfling. A black beam of energy sprung from the Skeltar's bony pointing finger. The Zombire unleashed a ray of sickening greenish energy. But Philip proved too nimble for them, and tossed the necklace to Vernim. Vernim grabbed the necklace, ripped off a bead, and tossed it back to the undead couple and their servants.

Flames engulfed the undead couple, leaving one of the maids and both footmen roasted. But when the flames subsided, the Skeltar and Zombire were still seated at the table.

Vernim revived Brother Martin with healing word. Prynhawn healed Valeria with lay on hands, but she was still down. Philip kicked the maid that had followed him, and punched a hole right through its ribs, but it kept attacking.

From the back of the chamber, four zombies rose from their mortuary slabs and coffins and began to shuffle towards the intruders.

Vernim distracted the Skeltar with a warding flare as it extended a ghostly, skeletal hand toward the priest, and revived Valeria with healing word. Then he tossed another bead from the necklace towards the undead couple. The flames engulfed the couple and the six zombies behind them. Five of the zombies crumpled in flame, while the furthest was scorched, but kept moving forward. The couple remained seated where they were.

The maid clipped Philip with its sword. Brother Martin used healing word and preserve life to revive Aseneth and heal Lawrence, Dubricus, and Yanliz, all of whom remained down.

Philip kicked the maids bony legs out from under it, and it hit the ground, crumbling to pieces. Then he ran about, retrieved his staff and clobbered the Zombire with it until it fell.

Prynhawn and Valeria both used cure wounds to revive Yanliz.

The Skeltar hit Vernim with magic missiles, while he was stabilizing Dubricus with cure wounds. Yanliz picked up his longbow and killed the last zombie. Aseneth began dragging Opal towards the exit. Brother Martin revived Dubricus with cure wounds. Dubricus rose and hit the Skeltar with a witch bolt. Philip swung his staff furiously and knocked the Skeltar's head off its body.

Gathering their breath, Prynhawn, Valeria, and Brother Martin revived Lawrence with cure wounds. Finally, Vernim cast gentle repose on Opal.

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