The journey out of the cave had been long and arduous for the Glorious Four – Dorn, Braxus, Iangold, and Cheondra – but finally they began to see daylight. Being cooped up in such tight confines had inevitable bred subtle tensions between the party members, and this led to a prank. Braxus picked out a special gold piece from his satchel and threw outside as they emerged from a grave.
Immediately, Iangold ran outside to retrieve the gold piece. It was the perfect prank, because Iangold could not stand the potential loss of even one gold piece. Braxus of course had tied the gold piece to a silk string and pulled it back into his hand before Iangold noticed. As the remaining party laughed as Iangold aimlessly ran out of the cave in pursuit of the gold piece, the laughter quickly subsided when they realized what lay outside the cave for the party.
It was a graveyard with a crypt and the taiga forests in the background. However, what drew their attention was a wily old mage standing not more than forty feet in front of them. The Mage was a scary figure indeed, but was even more scary was what he beheld in his right hand – a heart that was spewing blood from a recent victim. In his left hand, the Mage held a wizards book, flipping the pages with his eyes, and looking for the right passage.
Finally, the Mage found the words he was searching for, and started speaking in some ancient unholy tongue that even Cheondra couldn’t interpret a word of. At first, the Mage appeared to not even notice the party’s intrusion, so intent upon his task. At that moment, the undead victim came out of the crypt and appeared before the Mage, inexplicably walking about missing his heart like nothing had happened. It was a ghoul!
As the mage kept speaking skeletons started rising from their gaves. The skeletons understood their master’s wishes and confronted the adventurers menacingly. Of course, the first person they attacked was Braxus. It is a mystery why Braxus is always attacked first (Divine intervention shifty eyes). It is Dorn that looks the more powerful and dangerous of the party and as Iangold would say “Orc like”.
Iangold was not interested in talking to a wizard holding a hovering beating heart of a ghoul. He charged and attacked the wizard. As he was attacking the wizard he noticed a vile stench coming from the ghoul. The gould attacked him and put him in a daze. This allowed the wizard to step back and continue to speak in his unholy cantation. Iangold could only watch as black vines came out of the wizrds book and held him to the ground. As the black vines entered the ground bones and skulls started to rise to the surface of the ground causing everyone to rethink their steps. Iangold knew that he just needed to keep the ghoul and wizard busy until Braxus or Dorn was bale to circle around and help him take down this wizard.
Cheondra thought to himself ‘I hope Dorn doesn’t kill the wizard before I can question him about the orb.’ He was about to relay his thought when he was attacked from behind by a skeleton clawing at him. He countered with a stab from his longsword and then backed up to summon his spirit to help fight the mage. Cheondra feared he would be even more powerful than the woman they encountered in the mosh pit at the gladiator bout, when they were tested by Kranos. Or as powerful as “The Famous One” who had the birds circling him. Dorn turned to circle around and was met by two skeletons. He quickly took them down and turned to attack the wizard with hairtrigger, his crossbow.
Braxus had already made his path through the bone garden to reach the wizard. He was greeted with some black flames coming out of the wizards book, but that only made him angry. Like a lion stalking it’s prey Braxus tormented the wizrd until he was near death and then… a shout from Cheondra, “No. Not yet” when a single shot from hairtrigger hit the mage through the eye killing him instantly. Now I’ll never know what the message in the orb says, Cheondra thought to himself. Braxus dropped the mage and went to help Cheondra with the skeletons. He would have helped Iangold but if he could handle his girlfriend, Mortha Earthfriend, he could handle a little ghoul. Plus he was just healed by Cheondra’s sprit and Dorn was already there.
Iangold saw that it would only be a matter of time before Braxus and Cheondra took down the final skeletons still standing. So, not wanting to have Braxus kill every evil creature in the graveyard he turned to Dorn and said “set it to mulch!”. Then he pushed the powerful and ghastly ghoul into the path of Dorn’s slicing blades. Braxus had already taken down the skeletons and was using them as hand puppets when he walked up to Dorn and Iangold, “Who’s the Boss” one skull said, “Braxus is the Boss” the other skull answered. Then he noticed the horrid smell of the dead ghoul and stepped back thinking that Dorn smelled like a summer’s eve compared to that smell.
Iangold immediately checked the skulls on Braxus’s hands to see if any had gold teeth and quickly checked the remaining skulls on the ground. Braxus and Dorn checked the area for any more undead things that needed to become dead again but didn’t find any. Cheondra examined the mage to make sure he didn’t have any magical aura’s that could hurt anyone who tried to steal from him after death. They all met back at the mage and circled him. Cheondra said he was fine to check for gold and any thing of value. Iangold checked his pockets while Dorn did a more thorough search and both of them found a scroll that was imbued with a ritual. Braxus checked out the mages book and noticed that it had rituals and spells he said to the group. “I know these are rituals from seeing them at the temple but it’s written in elven. But none of us can perform rituals.” “I can.” Cheondra stated shifty eyes “I picked up a ritual book the last time we were in Artum.” Then Braxus replied calmly “YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO CAST RITUALS THIS WHOLE TIME!!!” shifty eyes
Cheondra looked at one of the scrolls and said “What luck! This can bring back the spirit of the mage and if we perform it correctly we can get up to three questions answered” Cheondra took his time to get the ingreedients on the scroll needed to perform the ritual and told the other party members that he betted that the Sorceress they had just slain was the wife or lover of the Mage. That led to Braxus betting Dorn and Iangold, twenty gold pieces to ten, that the Mage was just a coincidence both Iangold and Dorn took the bet.
Cheondra then told the party that they needed a hot coal from a fire, a rare flower from the forest, and some bone dust. Braxus searched the forest and found such a flower and brought it to the crypt they were performing the ritual. Cheondra dragged the mage into position on the floor to ask the questions they had prepared. Dorn used his bare hands to bring in fiery hot coals in the middle of the room. Iangold was left with the bone dust task and was upset that he was left with such a repetitive and boring task, so he went out to prove himself the best bone dust maker. He grabbed a bone and started rubbing it against a rock vigorously until he had a pile of bone dust. Cheondra walked by and sayed “Missing Mortha are we?”
When they were ready to perform the ritual they had a pan of water that was heated by the hot coals underneath and the red and blue flower was floating in the water with bone dust on it. Then Cheondra started to speak in elven and from the bone dust a purple smoke came to fill the room like a fog making everything seem dimmer and as the party inhaled the fog they started to feel like they were transcending their mortal bodies into the spiritual plane. When the fog entered the body of the mage on the floor the mage’s eyes opened and he started to speek with the help of the fog. “Speak!” the mage said. Cheondra didn’t miss this opportunity wanting to take advantage of every moment, holding out the orb he said “Tell us about the message in the orb!” The mage responded “I have read this before, it’s message iludes me, I would have been able to find out more from it’s makers.” This time it was Dorn’s turn “Where was it made?” The mage replied “It was made in the Royal University of Traore.” Then Braxus went to ask his question, “What is your relationship with the drow sorceress?” The mage replied, “She was a powerful sorceress who I wish I had met but we had our seprate tasks from our master.” Iangold was getting ready to ask his question but the coals suddenly when cool and the purple smoke dissipated and flew back into the flower and light crept back into the room and the lifeless wizard returned.
The party decided to rest and recover just outside the graveyard. There wasn’t much reason to expedite their search to them it didn’t seem time sensitive…