A Gathering of Tribes

I don’t know, maybe they have an extra ribcage or something

So told by Nanzad the Kordson

It was high noon in the desert and only a fool would travel at such a time. The party found themselves underground so it wasn’t a real problem. Having defeated the insidious leaping, (not hitting, but leaping nonetheless) spiders and their best buddy the acid-spitting column the party turned their attention to unwrapping the cocooned survivor. A few careful dagger slashes revealed him to be a human rogue named (at least for now) “Fader” Flynn. The Fader spun a tale of betrayal by Haarak and Tyran the Tiefling spies, who not only left him to become spider chow, but stiffed him on the balance of his promised fee. The party was so mesmerized by the sagas unfolding that nobody seemed to notice when a jealous Charnel snuck away to investigate a suspicious-looking wall panel only to disappear abruptly in the best Scooby-Doo tradition.

Fader was grudgingly allowed to join the team on a probationary basis in the hope that he might at least soak up some damage from traps. The party moved forward and discovered that the next portal was down at the bottom of a dry well. As Fader was uncoiling a rope to lower it down Tronar suggested he construct one of his famous ladders instead. Unfortunately the party realized that they had nowhere near enough corpses to do the job, so they had to make do with the rope. Sweeping the well for traps, Fader pronounced it safe and the group moved on.

Passing through the portal the party found themselves pressed into a cramped corridor half the size necessary to hold five adventurers in anything approaching comfort. Trading places with Fader, Nanzad moved back away from the door, stomping more than a few toes in the process. It quickly became apparent why the natural habitat of large orc barbarian is the wide open plains and not tiny rooms.

After a quick trap check turned up negative, Nanzad once again elbowed his way to the fore and he and Hendrik bent their mighty strength to forcing open the reluctant doors. The ancient stone portals groaned open and admitted a surge of water that quickly filled the corridor to ankle level and soaked the party to the skin.

The room beyond was pitch black. Wary of an ambush, Hendrik dug into his backpack and produced a sunrod to illuminate the ink-dark chamber. Unprepared for the multi-million candlepower brilliance of the sunrod the team was momentarily blinded. As the massive colored blobs cleared from their eyes, the adventurers peered into the room seeing it was about ankle deep in water.

Moving through the water was a pair of Ocher Jellies, oozing relentlessly towards the party. It was only the trained eagle eyes of Ghostwalker that spotted an odd distortion in the middle of the room. The shaman’s shouted warning was barely in time to warn his comrades to be on their guard against the new menace, a horrifying Gelatinous Cube. Recognizing the danger posed by the Cube Hendrik called for a coordinated assault against it. Joining forces with new ally Fader and his trusted comrade-in-arms Nanzad, the hardened veteran unleashed a furious rain of deadly hammer blows. With a bellow of triumph Kordson hewed the Cube in twain with a mighty blow from his massive axe. From there it was little effort to finish off the Jellies.

Moving ahead the party discovered the next portal and passed through. Waiting on the other side were Skeletons poised to attack. Reacting swiftly Nanzad ducked their blow, but one of them caught Hendrik under his shield. With a guttural cry of “It’s a trap!!!!” Hendrik lead the assault into the room.

Quickly the group dispatched the decrepit skeletons clearing the way for the battle with the far deadlier boneshard skeletons. Though a Burning Skelton who seemed to be the leader of the group was raining fire down on them from a balcony overlooking the battlefield the party thought they were doing well until a massive skull sigil on the floor flared to life instantly regenerating the fallen skeletons. Fader, who had seen these infernal magic at work before knew just what to do to disable them, and tuned away from the battle to do his work as the party covered him. His nimble fingers quickly disabled the sigil, giving the party the edge they needed to defeat the lesser skeletons.

Despite gaining ground the party was dealt a devastating blow as the boneshards began to explode in a hail of fragments but were somehow left completely unharmed by the powerful blasts. “What, they have extra bones or something?” mused Hendrik.

With clever use of his magic Tronar pulled the Burning Skeleton down from his perch, sending it crashing heavily to the ground and right into the sights of a party weary of being bombarded with fireballs. It was looking bad for the heroes as a second sigil located up on the balcony was still healing the undead and the strain of combat was beginning to tell on the whole team. In a moment of tactical brilliance, Ghostwalker unleashed the power of the sinister magic symbiote he had dubbed “Blinky,” and yanked all the skeletons forward, away from the sigil’s regenerative power. Exhausted by the effort, he fell to another devastating boneshard explosion.

The battle turned in the party’s favor when Hendrik called for no one to hold anything back in what his tribe called an “Alpha Strike.” Suiting actions to words Fader unleashed a devastating display of acrobatic blade work that dropped the Burning Skeleton as it tried to also defend itself from Hendrik’s assault. The party finally dispatched the rest of the tenacious boneshards (which fortuitously turned out to be duds) and Nanzad healed Ghostwalker with the holy power of Kord. Rushing the remaining skeleton archers still positioned on the balcony above the party made short work of them and the other deadly sigil. Barricading the portal they rested and tended their wounds.

Further on they discovered the impromptu lair of a necromancer, really just a straw pallet, a chest, and a pile of documents in Imperial Common He had several books explaining the foul ritual he was planning to bind an army of undead using the plentiful remains of the Scarred Earth tribesmen buried in the tomb complex as raw material. He wrote in his journal that he was ready, and he had set the traps and skeletons that the party fought there way through. Hendrik shook his head sadly, having seen a lot of this sort of delusional thinking during his wars against the Ghost King in his native lands. “Everybody thinks they can harness infernal power for their own schemes so easily. This bloke is headed for a bad end, mark my words.”

Hoping to aid Hendrik’s prophecy, Fader rigged up a quick trap in the necromancer’s bed, just in case he happened to make it back…

The next morning, it was high noon in the desert and the sun was beating down. Only a fool would travel at this time, but the party made preparations to pass through the portal. Hendrick lashed together the remains of a skeleton and dubbed him Sir Skelly. When asked what it was for he demonstrated by chucking it though the portal. “Better him than me,” chucked the Imperial veteran Following in the skeleton’s wake, they found Sir Skelly had checked for an ambush and found none. Hendrik dusted him off and brought him along for later.

Moving on they discovered a passageway that had been mostly intentionally collapsed. Mist was sent ahead to investigate and abruptly vanished in a massive gout of flam as he triggered a deadly trap! Instantly the corridor was filled with fire mere inches from their faces. Fader crept ahead and adroitly disarmed the trap with cautious aid from Ghostwalker, but not before accidently triggering the fiendish device into his own face once. “That’s how it goes”, the rogue said philosophically as he beat out the flames still licking at the hem of his cloak. “Sometimes you get the honey, sometimes you get the stinger. You shake it off and move on.” With the trap finally cleared they did just that.

The party arrived at the final room (preceded by Sir Skelly) to discover the remains of a ritual gone horribly wrong. The necromancer had been transformed into a Gibbering Mouther and the skeletons around him attacked the party. Despite the endless droning of the Mouther the party struck like lightning. Especially Tronar. In short order they dispatched the enemies, claming the field of battle.

Cleaning up the desecrated bones of the Scarred Earth tribe Ghostwalker did a ritual to set them to rest again. Moving forward the party found the next portal, wonder what was to come next.

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