Alodia Vilad had escaped the battle with the undead warriors with her life, and some hard-won treasure. Now she needed the expertise of a magic-user to identify the various vials and arcane scrolls retrieved from the crypt.
On the advice of the innkeeper Arlent Bene, Alodia sought the help of Ironthorpe’s resident wizard. The wizard’s run down wooden hut stood facing the inn, separated from it by the dusty, dry earth of the coach road. Knocking on the boards of the flimsy door produced no response, and it was only after Alodia opened the hut’s side window that the lone occupant took notice of her. After brief introductions, the impatient young man in tarnished robes confessed that he could not aid Alodia in identifying her eldritch trinkets, as he had lost his spellbook in the last, and most dire, of a series of ill-advised bets made with Bene, the innkeeper. In order for him to be able to offer his services, he would need to repossess his spellbook – a daunting task considering that he lacked the coin to settle the debt. Alodia struck a bargain with the wizard, offering to intervene with her friend the innkeeper on the wizard’s behalf. Desperate for a solution, the wizard agreed.
Retrieving the spellbook proved easier than expected. Arlent Bene was in a state of distress, convinced that some evil lay behind the black oak door in the tomb beneath the inn. In return for Alodia’s promise to investigate, Bene returned the wizard’s spellbook.
The wizard was delighted to retake ownership of the spellbook, and identified the magic items in short order. Upon learning of the quest on which Alodia had agreed to embark in exchange for the return of his spellbook, the wizard offered to accompanying her into the tomb.
To bolster their chances of success in the event of further dangers, the pair visited the temple of Erastil next door, seeking out the acolyte Silvain. They found her ministering to her new patient, the injured warrior, Saxon. Alodia inquired as to his condition, and Sylvain affirmed that the mercenary would make a full, if slow recovery. Alodia informed Sylvain of the dangerous investigation the half-elf intended to carry out, and the young acolyte was quick to offer her services.
Sitting by Saxon’s bedside during all this talk was the lumbering form of his mercenary comrade. The hulking giant, introducing himself as Grognac, spoke of his remorse in allowing Saxon to enter the crypt without him, and insisted he be allowed to accompany the party.
It was at this time that Alodia realised she had never thought to ask the wizard for his name. “Ragastus Doyne,” was the reply to her belated inquiry.
The party now assembled, all four would be tomb raiders returned to the Beggar’s Cellar, and made straight for the kitchen, and the cellar and crypt below.
The tomb was much as it had been when Alodia has last seen it; bone fragments littered the smooth stone floor, shapes in the dust of the central platform showed where Alodia had collected her treasure, and there, at the back of the chamber, stood the black oak door.
Magical analysis by Ragastus revealed the door to be made of mundane, if antique, wood. With long centuries, the fibres of the door had warped and twisted, and now it was stuck fast in its portal. With crowbars and brute strength, Alodia and Grognac forced the door open. Opening the door did not reveal the expected grand hall, but rather a small space ending abruptly in a smooth stone wall. Before any of the party could investigate, they were taken off guard as two ghastly creeping hands dropped from the ceiling and attacked.
The two rotting appendages moved with spiderlike quickness, darting across the floor, and leaping for the exposed throats of the nearest living creatures. While Alodia and Grognac attempted to skewer one hand, the other found purchase around the throat of Ragastus, choking the wizard, and preventing him from casting a spell to defend himself. A slash from Alodia’s greatsword split the evasive hand in two, and the warriors turned their attention to their distressed comrade, carefully dispatching the decayed gripping his windpipe.
The danger past, the party took the time to inspect the revealed space, and noticed an odd pattern of blood on the rear wall. Closer investigation revealed that the rear wall was in fact a concealed door or panel. Again, Alodia and Grognac set to work, this time working much harder to pry open the stone door. Inch by the inch the barrier moved aside, until with one final push the pair forced it aside. In reward for their feat of incredible strength, a mob of zombies poured in from the chamber that had been revealed.
Lead by a curious zombie lacking hands, the swarm of rotting flesh threatened to engulf the unprepared company. Entering into a combat rage, Grongac drew his heavy flail and forced the zombies back into the room behind them. Swinging his heavy metal polearm, Grognac obliterated the undead amputee, and tore into his companions, before being overcome by the beating pressure of fiendish blows.
With Grognac lying unconscious, it was up to Alodia and her other adventuring partners to defeat the zombies. Struggling with the cramped architecture, the wizard and acolyte were unable to effectively contribute, and if not for the steady hand of the half-elf ranger, all might have been lost. Cleaving through rotten flesh, Alodia fought her way to Grognac’s prone form, and quickly administered a curative potion, pulling the barbarian back from Death’s precipice.
While she was tending to the barbarian, the wizard and acolyte fared less well, both succumbing to the advances of the shambling wrecks, not before Sylvain, in a panic, threw Alchemist’s Fire at the creatures, accidentally injuring Grognac in the process.
Her companions disabled, Alodia was alone against the two remaining zombies. Calling upon her last reserves of strength, she backed into the corner of the room, preparing to mount her final defense. With astonishing power, her greatsword rent through the advancing monsters, averting catastrophe at the very last moment.
With the creatures dispatched, Alodia worked quickly to save her dying companions, administering potions and first aid to staunch the bleeding, heal the terrible wounds they had suffered.
Her new friends were stabilized, and so Alodia sought the help of the inn’s occupants to haul them to safety. Whatever lay further into the tomb, it was well guarded.