Grout Pebblekin and Devlin had only met each other a few days back. When the official delivered their calls to service, they were in close enough proximity to each other that he introduced them. They were able to prepare for the journey together and make the journey south from the Maerthwatch to Elbulder.
After a week of relatively uneventful travel, the weather has turned unmistakably dangerous. The wind and rain drive so hard that you’ve had to leave the safety of the road to be able to walk at all, lightning cracks frequently, and sporadic hail threatens injury. Fortunately you were able to spy some rock outcroppings in a hill from a high tree branch. Upon closer inspection you recognize it as the ruins of a building of some sort. The light of a fire flickers from the barely-open entryway to the structure.
“STORM-PEACE!” Grout calls out, observing the ancient custom of peace (even among the lawless) during great storms. “storm peace!” they hear repeated back to them, barely audible over the storm. They enter cautiously.
Inside they find a female gnome in heavy white and gold robes and armor. Clearly a cleric of Garl. She greets them and they dry off by the fire. The storm only seems to be intensifying. After a short rest, their visiting is interrupted by a call from outside. “STRM-PIZZ!” They respond as quickly as they can, readying their weapons all the same, as a fourth gnome wearing a heavy cloak and carrying a longbow makes his way in.
It turns out that Grah is on the same journey as Devlin and Grout, summoned by the council. Ellywick is also on her way to Elbulder, having returned from a dispatch by her order. With four now present, they are able to maintain a good fire, and share in rations. Grout takes time to examine the building they are in, and it seems to be of ancient design. There are writings along the walls in a language nobody can decipher. Large doors are visible on each of the three intact walls. Having settled over the aeons, the doors bear the weight of the doorway sagging down onto it.
Eventually sleep and a night watch begins.
A blinding flash of light is followed immediately by a shockwave that nearly extinguishes the travelers’ campfire. All are rousted from sleep and prepare for the worst as the foundation of their sanctuary continues to shudder. At once, stone shatters out of the 3 doorways, providing rough entries into the passages beyond. Before an investigation can be launched though, dire rats begin streaming out of the passages.
A hammer swing, an axe slash, an arrow’s sting. The rats fall.
Exploring first to the room to the leftof the entrance, the heroes find a statue resembling the sarcophagus of a giant humanoid. As they approach a strange evil creature shrieks out and flys at them. Swat, smash, plunk, pop, it lays on the ground oozing a green luminescent goo.
Before anyone can do more than turn their nose in disgust, Grah drops down and starts scooping some up, seemingly knowledgeable in some alchemy unknown to the others. … or not, he lets out a yelp as it burns most of the way through his gloves and singes his fingers. “…ok, yea, bad stuff”. “Has anyone ever seen something like that before?” asks the inquisitive Grout, poking at it with a recovered crossbow bolt. A round of negative gestures spreads across the rest like a wave. Something glints out of the goo.
Poking more carefully, Grout fishes it out with the bolt and rubs the polished stone ring clean revealing ancient writing. As he does it begins to shrink down, reducing by half, then half again, until it could slip right onto a gnomish finger. The writing morphs before his eyes, and he can read it as though it were gnomish: “Ring of Understanding”.
The opposing hallway beckons to them and the rush in to find a chest on a low altar. Darts fly out as it is flipped open, deftly dodged by our heroes. Within, stray coins and precious gems. Nothing overly worthwhile, but in the traditional style it is noted for sharing afterward.
“Only one way left” Devlin points out. After a long hallway, they find themselves toe to toe with some just-roused Orcs that they valiantly slay. “They should have said storm-peace” muses Devlin, fitting himself with some leather belt strapping off one of the Orcs. Search of the room indicates that they entered this area of the ruins through the tower above.
Some time is spent making a climb up the ruins into the tower to explore. Grah makes it up and finds more evidence of orcish habitation. He makes haste back in as the the storm makes its presence more well-known in this exposed area.
Continuing down the hall, a narrow sidepassage is visible. Once a full hall, partially crumbled to barely allow an orc to pass through. Webs occlude further vision down the passage. Fear gives way to curiosity (as it usually will) and webs are cut down clearing the passageway. A monstrous spider blocks their way, but not very well. Bodies covered in web seem to have been orcs or hobgoblins in the past. Some minor treasure was found on them.
The final room at the end of the hall is dominated by a large stone table, on it a large body. About 8ft tall, and undoubtedly humanoid, it’s not similar to any race known to the gnomes. Gold glints and sparkles on the floor and adorning the corpse. After some ransacking, a rumbling is heard and the stone table breaks flinging the body to the floor… to its feet. Ellywick calls upon her training and blasts out with divine positive energy, causing the undead creature to flee. Arrows and bolts fly at it, and Devlin makes a smiting charge.
Armed, and possessing great fortitude, the creature was clearly not a warrior in life or unlife. Once it falls, Ellywick performs some rites “It’s safe now, this thing won’t be animated again.” Grout finds a strange weapon scabbarded on the creature’s side. It seems completely unaffected by the passage of time. Triangular and engraved on most of its length, it comes to a fine thrusting point at the end. It feels masterfully balanced in his hand. ‘Toothpick’ is written on the side in the language of the ancients.
“It looks like we’ve secured all the rooms.” Ellywick says, sounding relieved and tired. “Yup, but we should probably barricade the entrance to this area in case any orcs decide to come in from the top” Grah pitches in. Less than an hour later, they’re back to resting, ever more wary of the dangers the world has to offer. Is this the life of an adventurer?
For those curious, this adventure was based off the premade ’A Dark and Stormy Knight’ available free from Wizards on their website. It was rethemed for the setting, with encounters and treasures being different. To get an idea of my workings, you might be interested to look it up and see how it differs from what you remember.