Cast of characters thus far:
- Skiven, a dwarven thief
- Graina, a warrior women with a frighteningly sharp-looking poleaxe
- Bhishma, a dwarven cleric of Vulcan.
The moors and an ancient collection of burial mounds, cairns and standing stones infamously known as the Barrowmaze lay half a day’s march south of Lychgate, a trading town along the great eastern road. Lured by tales of plunder, our heroes arrived in town and formed a confederation to see for themselves what riches could be gained. Bhishma hired a young man named Pelric to tend his pack mule and, if necessary, carry torches or equipment into any complex they found.
The party found the moors without difficulty and considered the collection of barrows and stones. Skiven had heard rumors that the central mound held an entrance to a labyrinthine network of underground tunnels. He suggested that a less “picked over” ingress would be preferable and the others agreed. So the adventurers started to search some of the smaller, less central mounds. B could feel that there was an evil air to the place, but the sun was high and they had not come this far just to turn back because the barrows weren’t cheerful.
The first mound they came to was covered in turf, but Skiven found the outlines of a buried lintel. Some scraping away revealed a stone slab as a door, but no handle or mechanism was apparent. The group decided to check some of the other mounds before exerting the effort to open this one.
The next mound was similar, except for a broken standing stone lying nearby. As Skiven searched the perimeter of the hill, the ground under a nearby cairn boiled and tattered skeletons crawled forth!
Bhishma tried to turn them, but his holy power seemed weakened in this evil place, and the undead advanced.
The party fought bravely and, with relatively little trouble, managed to destroy the foul things. A brief search around the cairn revealed nothing else threatening. It appeared to be a pauper’s mass grave.
Returning to the barrow, they eventually decided to break in by smashing the stone slab with spike and sledge. It took several minutes, but eventually it cracked and the door fell with a crash. Inside, Skiven could see a small landing and carved steps going down. As the dwarf inspected the entrance for traps, a half-dozen foot-long centipedes dropped from the ceiling onto him. His friends rushed to his aid, but he was bitten and the venom wracked his bowels with pain before the invertebrates were slain or driven off.
Bhishma set up a simple brush screen in the doorway, hoping that anything passing the branches, etc. would disturb them and thus leave signs of passing. Graine and B then slung Skiven on the mule and took him back to town to recover.
Bhishma had taken some of the dead centipede bodies and went to an apothecary to try and sell them as ingredients. The alchemist offered to discount the cost of a centipede anti-venom in exchange. B took the deal but it was decided that Skiven could let this poisoning run its course and the potion would be saved for another time.
A week later, the crew was back at Barrowmaze. Nothing seemed to have been disturbed in their absence, so the group decided to explore the stairs going down. This time Skiven was particularly cautious. After checking the steps, he descended and saw a round chamber ahead with four stone sarcophagi. His infravision also detected movement on the ceiling: more centipedes. Retreating to the surface, the party decided to smoke the creatures out.
They cut three fagots’ worth of brush and sticks, then doused them with oil. Skiven lit them one by one and tossed them down the steps into the chamber. Then the three stepped back and watch the door as smoked seeped out. A few minutes later, a couple centipedes came running out onto the mound, but the party’s missile attacks missed them and they disappeared into the grass.
Once the smoke died down, the trio re-entered the tomb. The chamber did not seem to connect to any other passages, but there were the four sarcophagi to investigate. Each had an effigy carved on the lid and they appeared to belong to a family (parents and offspring). Skiven checked each one by one and pried the lids off. The first two contained ancient bones, tattered clothes and a few trinkets of jewelry. The third corpse leapt up when released and attacked!
Once again, Bhishma’s turning attempt failed and the creature managed to inflict a few small wounds with its bony claws before it was felled. However, as the party looked back into the coffin, the beast jumped up again!
This time, Graina’s magical halberd scored deep wound in the thing and dropped it again. Skiven beheaded it and it seemed to stay dead. They found some jewelry on it as well. B removed it quickly, afraid that one of the trinkets might contain magical properties that allowed the thing to rise after being slain.
The last sarcophagus contained nothing surprising, but the body did hold a dagger with an nicely carved bone hilt. Altogether, Skiven estimated they had found a couple hundred gold pieces worth of jewelry. Hardly a king’s ransom, but certainly better than working in a shop!