Adventure 5 – The City of the Dead
As our adventurers exit the legionnaire chamber they find themselves in a peculiar spot. Having expected to venture further in the labyrinth, they instead find themselves free of the maze and in a shabby run down hovel. The small shack is unoccupied and by the layers of dust scattered across the sparse furnishings it is clear it has been so for some time. Movement outside the barred up window makes the party press themselves against the shadows. Looking out the window, Xylia’s jaw drops agape as she sees a sprawling city like no other.
What once may have been a magnificent city with a massive palace at its heart was now a city of decay filled with undead monsters. Skeletal guards march down the street. Flesh golems not unlike the ones they had encountered in the labyrinth lumber past with heavy loads carried on their backs. A carriage full of ghosts rattles past, pulled by skeletal horses. Floating skulls hovering over empty clothes casually linger in front of store fronts, inspecting their wares. The streets were lined with strange fires and braziers that cast an eerie light on the ever flowing swirls of fog and permanently overcast skies above. Beyond the various shops and dwellings stood a towering skull palace, home of the Lich King and the crown they all sought.
Distracted by the unusual city, a guttural snarl was Xylia’s only warning before a ghoul’s decaying face filled her view. Snapped back to her senses Xylia reeled away from the window and flattened herself against the shadows. Thinking there cover had been blown her hands instinctively drew her bow. Seeing the hunter alert the rest of the party silently drew their weapons. Time passed. Nothing happened. Another moment ticked by before Xylia allowed herself a quick glance again out the window. The ghoul was no longer near the window, having been led further down the street on a leash held by a vampire obliviously enjoying a leisurely stroll. Xylia let out a sigh of relief, not aware she had been holding her breath. Augustine appeared silently next to her. After watching the streets for a moment he turned back to the party and whispered, “There’s no way that we can simply walk down these streets. The entire city would be out to kill us.”
Deneveve recited the code taught to her by the Priestess, finding courage in the mantra. None of them had a background with the Lich King or knowledge of the city’s grid system so they would have to take a different approach. “Then we find a disguise. Fan out, see if this hovel has anything we can use.” Xin-Shan and Ark climbed up the ladder to the second floor landing. It was not long before Ark found several large cloaks in a closet upstairs. Alleric had a good thought to retrieve the armor of the skeletal legionnaires back in the chamber room and carried them to his allies. They divided up the armor and the cloaks to make sure everyone was properly disguised. Augustine helped those that weren’t familiar to wearing heavier plate.
Cautiously, they each stepped out on the streets. Xylia noticed the multitude of winged gargoyles perched on the roofs of every building that diligently watched the citizens go about their business. The ranger nudged each of her companions and pointed out the watchers. She had a bad feeling about this. Carefully trying not to stand out, they made their way down one of the larger streets toward the massive bone palace.
Master of the material arts, but not the undead shuffle Xin-Shan was stopped by a group of legionnaires that noticed her unusual gait. “You there! Where are you going? What business do you have in the city of the dead? Taken off guard, Xin-Shan mumbled a string of incoherent words. One of the legionnaires leaned in closer, not buying it. Ark moved in to quickly diffuse the situation, offering an excuse that Xin-Shan was newly risen undead and was being taken to the barracks for interrogation. The legionnaire nodded, indicating that the nearest guardhouse was two streets to the east. When he had walked far enough away, the party quickly moved to the west.
Xylia’s keen eyes noticed that they had picked up a tail. One of the gargoyles was attempting to discreetly follow them along the rooftops. Seeing an open shop door, Xylia quickly ushered her companions inside. A small vampire greeted them into the shop, stating that they were having a sale on runes in the back. While Xylia and Alleric spoke with the owner about his wares, Ark ducked behind the shelves and towards the back. Out of sight, Ark did what rogues did best and silently pocketed six runes. They would come in handy later.
Augustine noted that the pursuing gargoyle had fled, apparently losing interest in them. Checking again that the coast was clear, they once again got back onto the streets and marched to the palace gates. The gates themselves were guarded by several vampires checking the papers of everyone hoping to get in. Atop the gates spread out in intervals were numerous gargoyles perched and watching for intruders. “We need a way in,” Ark said, “and those guards don’t seem to be all that welcoming.” Spotting a tavern nearby Ark motioned over to it. “I could use a drink and perhaps we could find answers there.”
The Bloody Hart was without a doubt the seediest pub they would ever encounter. Stepping through the grime covered doors they saw the most bizarre collection of patrons. An wolf-headed skeleton manned the bar. A card game was being played at one of the central tables between a half wasp-demon undead human and flesh golem in a maids outfit. Off to the side an elven lich was displaying excellent aim in a game of darts. In the back, a necromancer was reclining while his undead servants fed grapes into his mouth. It was quickly obvious that no mindless undead were welcome here, these were all intelligent undead. Seeing a kindred spirit in the caster, Alleric went to speak to the necromancer in back. “Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help but noticed you’re one of the few living people here. What brings you to the Necropolis?”
A blissful smile on his face, the Necromancer waited to finish his grapes before addressing the sorcerer. “I am Kordell Thayco, a faithful follower of his Highness, and I am here to deliver my regular tribute – Thirty gallons of the freshest blood available. Alas, I must confess that I lost a barrel on my travels here. Hopefully his Highness will be… forgiving.” The Necromancer looked the party over and smiled. “Of course, there’s always new ways to find new blood… Anyone interested in becoming a donor? For a small reward, of course”
Xin-Shan’s face paled at the thought of being drained by this man. “Uh, no thank you sir. We have business with that, um… werewolf…er…skeleton…I mean, the bartender.” She quickly hustled over to the skeleton with the wolf of a head behind the bar. “Listen, we need to get into the Palace. Know a way in? Something that doesn’t require blood donations, preferably.” The werewolf-headed skeleton growled at the wood elf and returned to making drinks.
Ark knew his monk friend wasn’t the smoothest operator when it came to these things and confidently bellied up to the bar. Sliding a few coins across the bar top, the Halfling smiled. “Surely you know of someone -” He looked around the room at his fellow patrons, “Or should I say something that is headed into the palace walls. We could help each other, you and I. What say you, ….?”
The bartender growled again and took the coin. “Andros is the name. Just so happens that I’m scheduled to deliver a shipment of Troll Bile to the palace for an upcoming ceremony. Some celebration among the royal liches.” He looked over the adventurers in front of him. “I could use a few hands to deliver the shipment. Let me watch my bar instead of dealing with them nasty guards.”
“What on earth do they want Troll Bile for?” asked Augustine.
“To drink of course,” the werewolf answered incredulously. “There ain’t nothing as aromatic as a nice frothy mug of troll bile. Jeez, its like you’ve never had a drink before in your whole death. The wagon’s around back, you’ll need this royal writ of invitation in order to enter the gates. Don’t spill any of the shipment.”
Behind the tavern the party found a wagon waiting for them. The wagon was laden with numerous large barrels full of the disgusting brown liquid. Their stomach’s curled at the smell of Troll Bile radiating from their cart. “How could they drink this stuff?” Xylia remarked as she and Tig climbed aboard. The rest clamored about and soon enough they were off to the servant’s entrance near the back of the palace.
The servant’s gate was not far. When the party reached it the guard took a quick look at their writ of invitation and waved them on through. One of the servants mumbled something about the chef needing the shipment immediately and to take it on down below to the kitchens. The hallways were filled with smells of decaying meat and rot, all emanating from the kitchens deep below. At the first fork in the hallways, Augustine nodded his head in the direction of the fork. Taking his sign, they all dropped their shipments of bile and gathered their weapons.
Unlike the deteriorating city outdoors, the halls of the Necropolis were impressively well kept. It was obvious that the Lich King still liked his comforts. The walls were gilded in gold and various different busts and paintings lined the walls. Ark’s hands were twitching in hopes of bagging these priceless artifacts but a sharp look from Deneveve stopped him. There were bigger, better things to steal deeper in.
As they turned a corner, the party walked into line of sight of two hulking skeletal figures down the hall. The party froze. With the weapons drawn and poorly disguised the group was no longer fooling anyone. An unearthly scream filled the hall. The Tomb Guards charged. The first came barreling into Augustine with full force, sinking a black blade into the Paladin’s shoulder before slamming him to the ground. The second charged up to Deneveve but the elf cleric nimbly sidestepped out of his path.
In the tight corridors of the hallway, Augustine and Deneveve had to face the guards toe to toe. They were relentlessly assaulted by sword and fist as the guards pummeled them over and over. Xin-Shan and Ark tried to flank around on Augustine’s right and bring down one of the guards, but the skeletal horror continued to stand. Xylia and Alleric bombarded the two guards hoping to kill them before reinforcements would come.
The adventurers rejoiced when the first guard collapsed but their moment of triumph was short lived. Further down the hall they saw four more of the skeletal guards running to engage the party. They had let the battle go on too long and reinforcements had arrived. The battle that followed was the most brutal that the adventurers had faced yet. Augustine, Ark, Deneveve, and Xin-Shan all nearly perished. If not for Augustine’s protection, Deneveve’s healing prowess and a collection of healing potions they had gathered early on none of them would have survived. Suffering grievous wounds, the party rallied together and pushed back. Slowly the Tomb Guards fell one by one. Xylia’s final shot sent an arrow deep in the spine of the final Tomb Guard, severing his skull.
Heavily wounded and beaten, the adventurers found a small side chamber filled with goods. They snuck in and locked the door behind them. They would have to be careful to successfully gain access to the vaults that held the Lich King’s crown. Another encounter with the guards would surely kill them…
“Another awesome game session. Especially as I was able to stay “at range” for most of the game. I only used one recovery all day. :-D” – Player 1, Alleric
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