Lev, Julea, Alaria, Mickel, and
-— slurped coppery ale in the dimly lit Rusty Bucket. This was the bottom of the barrel, they knew, where all the would-be’s and has-been’s came to share tall tales and hope for a job offer. Every once in a while they came, but rarely were they worthwhile and within their realm of expertise.
Today, however, a note was passed around the taproom which piqued their interest. Fifty pieces of gold to any and all who could help return a family heirloom for one of the noble houses. Simple enough, they all thought. So they met with the young lad, a member of House Leiyraghon, outside his manor.
He told them that an old Leiyraghon homestead sat on the edge of Thar, northwest of town, which may house some items dear to him. If they could return the warhorn and a set of silver goblets to him, he’d pay them nicely. He even afforded them an adventuring charter, giving them certain freedoms and safeties in and around the town of Melvaunt. The charter—which he claimed was written by an incompetent scribe of his—was in an indecipherable tongue, but he affixed his seal and dubbed them The Company of the Bright Sun and sent them on their way.
They left soon after, around highsun, and set out north from the walled city, then turned west as the Glister Road turned east toward its namesake town. Soon they passed through an old grove where the trees bore poor fruit. There was not even enough ruffage here for Alaria to sustain her appetite.
The old homestead, it seemed, was just beyond the trees, as they emerged at dusk. Dilapitated wooden buildings were horizontal. The only structure remaining was a stone chapel with a graveyard in front. Driven by their desire for fame and fortune, they pressed onward. Inside the graveyard it was evident that three graves were robbed, the skeletons of the poor souls lying under the open sky. Mickel snuck ahead and inspected them, hearing rattling which set him on edge. The group joined him, and found black stones in the eye sockets of all three corpses. This, they knew, was the sign of necromancy. The onyx was a required component in the animation of their corpses.
They collected the onyx and set for the chapel. Mickel searched the outer door and found nothing troubling, so he opened it. Thin twine which was bound to the inside of the doors let loose and dropped a purple stone into a cup in the foyer, and a purple pulse radiated from it. Looking out to the skeletons, they saw no motion. It seemed the removal of the onyx negated the effect.
Inside they noticed a cold, stripped chapel with an idol on the far wall. Walking in slowly, they heard scratching on wood. Alaria noticed a pale hand on the far pew. Three corpses—flesh still on—arose and slinked towards the heroes. Before a single blade struck the dead bodies, however, Julea raised her brightly painted holy symbol and commanded the creatures to flee. Lathander’s holy light nearly blinded the heroes as it filled the room. Dead flesh flaked from bone, and soon the only thing left of the zombies was dust.
The ladies inspected the shrine, and saw that the idol was that of Bane, the Strifelord, a truly evil deity. A few coins were in its midst, minted in both Zhentil Keep and Melvaunt. Where the Zhents involved here? There was nothing else of value in the room.
Stone stairs led to a basement floor. At their bottom, Mickel stepped out first. He turned to motion the others down and was struck speechless with fear. He somersaulted backwards and was covered in two nets on the far wall downstairs. The others joined the fray and saw that the nets were webs from monstrous spiders nearly the halfling’s size! They dispatched the spiders, but not before one infected
-—’s arm with its venom, sapping his strength.
They chose a direction next and Mickel ensured no traps were before them. He, however, must not have looked hard enough, as the floor soon gave way and saw him at the bottom of a pit 20 feet deep. Bones broken, out of breath, he lie there nearly dead. Julea dropped down to see to his wounds and they found another poor soul who did not survive. Under him was some rope, which they used to get out and haul out his gear, including a fine sword and suit of armor.
After some time, they were able to jump the pit and head to a room with a dark tapestry depicting demons subjugating people. After much discussion, Julea lifted the gigantic tapestry to reveal a spider the size of a horse! It bit her and she fell lifeless, along with the tapestry. Alaria’s blades struck through the tapestry and the spider and scissored open to reveal the beast to all. It dropped her as well with its venomous bite. Soon the men killed it.
A small rest allowed the women to regain their strength, and Julea prayed for more healing spells from Lathander, which she used to ensure all were healthy. Their food and water gone, they decided to find the heirlooms before leaving.
A hallway with a trail of food morsels seemed trapped, and they skipped it, opting to head down a long flight of stairs even further underground. From the room below glowed a green light. Hovering in front of the light was a silent suit of armor, slightly obscured by a hazy blur. A ghost, they figured, but they couldn’t leave without the horn and goblets, which they figured were beyond. Moving in, Mickel kept a distance from the ghost but searched the empty room.
The ghost lurched silently toward him, and caught him in some aura of burning silence. The others, fearing for his safety, engaged. Soon others were engulfed as well. They noticed translucent shimmering walls surrounding the ‘ghost’ and his captors, and chose to attack the firmaments. Soon they realized this was a creature with a cube-like shape, which had eaten the armor suit and some of their members. Thanks to fortune and skill, the creature was destroyed and their friends saved. The suit of armor needed repairs, but was worth a pretty penny. They even found a horn on its belt, and the source of the glow was an everburning torch, which they kept.
Exhausted, cold, and hungry, they ascended the stairs, muttering about the odd fellow who sent them on such a deadly errand…