Working from the partial map recovered from a body in the barrow mounds in the hills above Deerbye, the Ashen Blades opted to avoid the marked “clashing rocks” and head for an identified secret door. The annotation said that the unholy symbol of Dispater should be traced on the door to open it. Blood was tried, dirt was tried, chalk was mooted but no one had any. The unholy symbol was traced in the door, the air, the floor, the wall either side and opposite the door, and none of it seemed to work. After nearly two hours of this the party gave up and scuttled down the corridor towards a room marked “lizards” on the map.
Curiously, the room had five Draco lizards of enormous heft, but the party happily waded in. The lizards had been caught unawares in their cave and so had no room to use their flight advantage. The party methodically killed two of the beasts and the others made desperate attempts to escape the cave. One managed to successfully overrun and got into the passageway and took to the air, the other two were less lucky. One barely got out of the cave and was set upon by four of the Blades. The other made it into the passageway but the Corsair and Nightblade had positioned themselves to cut off retreat and managed to kill it.
Congratulating themselves heartily on a job well done and feeling nothing could stop them the Blades continued down the passageway into an unmapped portion of the burial mound. At the end of the passage a large chamber opened up. A strange gloom muted their torches and a slight chill touched the air. In the chamber were the bodies of four previous delvers and a wraith. The bodies had some disturbing shadows that looked as though they were trying to devour or perhaps escape the corpses on the floor. Immediately the Spellsword recovered a warding scroll from his backpack and began intoning its solemn incabulum. The wraith as forced to retreat in the face of the necromantic incantation and the Anti-Paladin and Bladedancer took advantage of its protective properties to engage.
As it turned out the gloom was a form of anti-magic. It was blunting the enchanted effects of the Blades’ magical weapons, it was also stopping the drained spirits of the corpses from returning as wholly formed wraiths. The full effect of the anti-magic was not realised until the group followed the wraith into the room and the warding scroll crumbled to dust. In a short but desperate fight the Anti-Paladin was energy drained but the wraith was overcome.
The group moved through the chamber into a sepulchral cave with a catafalque on which the preserved body of an elf in a panoply of glorious (and expensive looking) jewellery lay. The body was quickly looted by the elf thief Nightblade. Meanwhile the Bladedancer was in the chamber opposite examining some horned, dog-faced winged demon statues which came to life when the Bladedancer tried to move one. The ensuing combat spilled out into the chamber with the anti-magic glamour and the fighting became somewhat desperate. Each of the statues was fighting with claws, teeth and horns and individual wounds were beginning to mount up into significant damage. Eventually, the four constructs were defeated, but the party realised they would have to leave the mound for rest and recuperation.
Oh if only that were possible…
As they approached the Maw pool by the mound entrance the party are set upon by ten foul throghrin. Unnatural crossbreeds of hobgoblin, troll and ghoul the party once again had a desperate fight on their hands. Luckily, while the foul monsters did land a few hits on the Blades the party were unaffected by the paralysing touch. The skirmish was becoming frantic as the Corsair and Anti-Paladin were suffering grievously form the wounds suffered in the fighting throughout the morning, but the Blades were victorious.
Another two days of healing, with bed rest and divine intervention were needed before a final incursion into the mound was undertaken. Again, the “clashing rocks” were avoided. After another short interlude with the symbol of Dispater, this time to allow the symbol to actually be traced. On to paper. Like a brass rubbing. This appeared to have no effect and so the Blades opted to check the unmarked and unexplored passageways on the right side of the map. The Spellsword decided that the mystical golden pins containing “good” magic might prove useful and they were removed from their mountings at the mound entrance. A cold, ghostly gust of wind swept past the party as the last of the pins was removed. A whisper on the gust of wind in Primordial gave some warning. Suspecting that something had stirred in the back of the mound the exploration of the unmapped passage became somewhat hurried.
The first two chambers on either side of the passageway had crude stone doors and contained more of the dog faced statues. Nobody touched them. The chamber at the end of the passage contained a regiment of skeletons. Armoured in bronze scale with spears and shields of a decidedly elvish design the skeletons seemingly came to life some ten minutes after the pins had been removed. The undead came into the passage in a regimented fashion in three files of ten ranks. Calling on the power of various deities to rebuke them had dealt with nearly a dozen and a half of the animated corpses, but the remainder came on relentlessly and ancient spears stabbed out in the shadowed murk to make some telling blows on the lead adventurers in the party. Eventually though, all the skeletons were returned to dust and eternal death as the Anti-Paladin bersekerganged his way through two ranks.
By this time a chill, as if some forsaken evil had risen, had descended on the passageway. Those who had encountered the spectre at Takron Galtos recognised this emanation as the presence of incorporeal undead impacting on the material plane. Girding themselves, the Blades strode forth, symbols of divine power at the ready. As they stepped back into the chamber with the Maw pool, they presented their spiritual fervour and drove three of the wraiths off immediately. The remaining wraith sought the warmth and succour of living souls so desperately after centuries of trapped un-life that it immediately attacked. The fight was close, but the Blades prevailed with only the Anti-Paladin once more suffering the chilling touch of the afterlife.
Time was pressing, the rebuke of the other wraiths would eventually be overcome and there was no doubt in the minds of the Ashen Blades that they would return seeking revenge and life energy. The symbol of Dispater was traced, for the last time, using one of the golden pins. This time the unholy lock on the door was released and the party was able to enter a chamber that contained the mummified remains of a monk or priest sitting cross-legged before a significant hoard of treasure.
The mummy uttered a fell curse in Primordial and cast Hold Person on the Bladedancer. All attempts to rebuke the creature failed and the Blades were forced to fight hand to hand. The fight proved somewhat one sided as the rest of the Blades managed to each rain a few blows on the tough, desiccated corpse. Before any further spell casting could take place the mummy was despatched. Recognising that time was no longer on their side the Blades grabbed all the treasure and the Bladedancer and left the mound for the last time.
Counting the cost, and the treasure, the Ashen Blades decided to head back to their Moathouse fastness for some well-earned downtime. Hopefully, the treasures of Maedredhor would maintain the Blades coffers for some time to come.