Black Sails over Leudendorf
The Isle of Undeath
You did the impossible. You avoided the magical wards around Daen Danud’s tower, and you used the spyglass of Harrimast to enter his private sanctum without alerting any of his constantly prowling guards. You waited in his study throughout the day, ready to spring your ambush. But when the moment came, you did not expect him to travel in this most private of locations with an entourage of zombie gorillas…
Four minutes ago, Daen Danud fled down the steps his tower, shouting alarums to his sentries, guards and soldiers. Now, you stand in his inner sanctum, surrounded by his fallen bodyguards, still hearing the echoes of his cries as he flees.
What do you do?
Human Druid Barbarian
October 30, 740
Act II, Scene XXXIV: The Flight of Daen Danud
The adventurers stand in the burning, broken wreckage of a half-dozen white gorilla zombies. Their true foe, Daen Danud, has put four minutes of distance between them, putting the entire base on high alert as he went. They break into action, attempting to pursue as quickly as possible but also cautiously aware that the master of the isle could well have slipped through a secret portal and not gone as far as they might assume.
Kari lights the group’s lantern while Ketham, Draya and Jhondal descend to the next level down. Ketham moves farthest, relying on his elfin infravision to make out rough shapes and outlines in the darkness. From his position several feet inside the entrance to the next floor of the tower, he hears the sound of shuffling feet—very faintly—in the distance. The creatures responsible for that sound are beyond the next flight of steps leading further down the tower.
With the lantern lit, the adventurers descend into the study and library below the the observatory where they had lain in wait for Daen. In the light of the lantern, they can see what Ketham, Draya and Jhondal have been navigating. The stairs deposit them in a large, circular room lined with bookcases. There are two main cases, one each on the east and west walls. Each case conforms to the wall’s curvature, and extends from the floor to the ceiling, 15 feet tall in all. They are almost completely filled with books of all shapes, sizes, and ages. An overstuffed chair and a large bookstand with an open book upon it sit near the eastern case
As the others arrive, Ketham continues downward. He descends partway to the next level down, where he uses his infravision to determine that the steps let out on a bare floor, the base of the tower, where it joins a much larger underground complex.
Jhondal and Draya stay at the top of the steps, watching after Ketham while the others follow after with the lantern.
Moments later, Ketham comes back up the steps, saying that there are three or four zombie-like creatures coming up the steps after him.
The adventurers lose another four minutes in battle against a group of four monsters that prove far more resilient than zombies. They are mummies, wrapped in bandages and dropping patches of dried mud on the ground as they move. The adventurers are hard-pressed to battle the creatures, as they prove resistant to all but enchanted weapons. Worse, the mere presence of the creatures is enough to paralyze several of the adventurers in overwhelming dread. Ketham stands, staring, arrow drawn to his ear but unable to loose. Romany and Kari, likewise, stare at the creatures while their friends do battle. Kari’s shaking hand still holds the burning lantern.
The mummies’ weakness I revealed when Jhondal slashes one of the creature with his enchanted scimitar, but that only goes further to discourage the adventurers, who have few magical weapons. Gabriella calls upon Our Guardian in the Mists to smite the creatures, and a rush of divine fire blasts the mummies, incinerating two and badly burning the others.
When Rook joins the fray with his magical cutlass, he and Jhondal are able to finish the remaining creatures in short order, though Jhondal’s flamboyant exclamations during the battle do little to ingratiate him with the others. It seems that Draya’s growing disregard for the warrior has begun to spread through the other members of the party, including Jhondal’s own blood relative, Rook.
In the wake of the battle, injuries must be tended. Gabriella bandages Draya, but when she turns to do the same for Jhondal she finds that the wounds do not respond to her efforts. The adventurers surmise that this could be an example of mummy rot, a disease. But Gabriella knows that her prayer to cure diseases will not be sufficient to overcome mummy rot. Kari agrees, filling in some gaps regarding the nature of mummies and their affliction. Ultimately, Gabriella settles on praying to Ezra to have a curse lifted from Jhondal. The half-elf cannot feel anything happening, but the anchorite senses that her prayer has been answered; something was dissolved that had been afflicting Jhondal.
Jhondal cheers at the news, embracing Gabriella, even attempting—and failing—to lift her in a hug in her full plate armor.
Gabriella prays for greater healing for Draya, and then—healing resolved—she lights a reading lamp from Daen’s desk, using the flame of Kari’s lantern.
While Gabriella offered healing, Romany began looking about the room for a secret door in the walls of the chamber.
Ketham, already moved to the base of the tower another story below, lights a torch to get a better sense of the place where Daen seems to have fled. Thus lit, he moves on cautiously, doing his best to keep the trail from going cold. He no longer hears anything, but there is a single open door, and a single closed one leading from the base of the tower. Ketham moves through the open door, and comes to a massive chamber that is effectively a closet.
Daen has numerous wardrobes on the western side of the room that contain nothing but his usual priestly garb. However, the eastern wardrobes contain more casual, pirate attire.
Ketham continues through the wardrobe to a guard chamber. A single oval table and the four chairs that surround it dominate this 15-foot-long by 15-foot-wide room. Judging by the dust layered on the furniture, the room has not been used in quite a while.
Seeing this, he doubles back. Reuniting with most of the others—Kari is still upstairs providing light for Romany’s search of the library—the adventurers investigate beyond the closed door in the chamber at the base of the tower. Gabriella opens the door, revealing a short passage ending in two more doors. Beyond the first is the loo. The claw-footed tub, sink, and privy make the function of this room obvious the moment she walks in. It is, however, quite a bit larger and more opulent then any of the adventurers are accustomed to. All of the pieces, and the floor itself, are made of polished white stone. And they can all recall sleeping in common rooms smaller than this space.
Draya opens the other door. For a moment, he feels as if he has stepped out of the confines of the dungeon and has been transported to a fine inn. Lush violet, velvet curtains cover every inch of the walls. An immense four-post bed takes up a significant portion of the northeast corner. The room also contains a nightstand, a vanity with a mirror, and an armoire. The room sounds different from the corridor he just exited, due to the thick white carpeting covering the floor from wall to wall. The recipient of all this opulence appears to not currently in attendance.
At first Draya turns to leave. Then he thinks better of the decision. He returns to the bed chamber and begins to search the bedroom; looking for secret doors behind the wall drapes.
Ketham begins to search for secret doors in the empty chamber at the base of the tower.
While the searches go on, Rook goes alone to the dusty guardroom. Through the far door in that room he finds another dusty chamber with no furnishings, and then a stairwell descending to a lit corridor. He returns to the others just as Ketham opens a secret door in the wall of the chamber at the base of the tower. Around this time both Draya and Romany determine that there are no concealed doorways in the rooms where they are searching.
The adventurers are coming to terms with the fact that Daen fled almost twenty minutes earlier. By now, his flight could have carried him almost anywhere in the dungeon. They have lost the trail, and the dungeon below them is almost certainly roaming with alerted undead guards.
Aroth presents a solution. He could summons an invisible stalker to lead the party to Daen. The adventurers know enough of Daen Danud that—even they haven’t seen or met him—they could focus the stalker on him. In a rush of wind, a creature of elemental air forms before Aroth. It listens to his demand—guide the adventurers to Daen Danud and help them destroy him.
The stalker leads the way.
Act II, Scene XXXV: Buckets of Blood
Aroth’s invisiblse stalker leads the party through a winding maze of passages, down multiple levels of Daen’s complex, and beyond countless undead guards.
On the sixth level of the complex, they hit their first obstacle.
A trap door opens in the floor. Gabriella and Ketham leap ahead, escaping a deadly fall. Behind them, the others bunch back, but their movement brings them into peril. A group of undead--wights and a zombie lord—followed them down from the floor above them. What seems at first to be a pitched battle, though, ends after moments as the adventurers quaff remaining potions of flight taken from the ceramic skull fortress of Zoltan Zaska. They fly easily across the yawning pit, while more than one screaming wight plummets into the darkness below.
Only one wight leaps across the pit, and Romany and Draya deftly knock it back over the edge.
The bound invisible stalker waited during the fight, but now it leads deeper into the bottom level of Daen’s lair. It takes them past a side chamber of bare earth. The smell of decay assaults their senses even before the five-foot-high pile of bodies becomes visible. They cannot avoid glimpsing how the stack contains corpses of all sorts: gorillas, goblins, humanoids, and some creatures with some rather disturbing mutations. Creatures taken from the other islands, the adventurers realize, but they do not stop to look farther. The invisible stalkers leads on, and they follow.
The next stop is a doorway that is bound by a powerful necromantic sigil. When the elemental opens the door, the sigil blasts it out of existence, discorporating into the elemental air that comprised it. Beyond, though, awaits Daen Danud. The withered pirate stands confidently in the midst of a half-dozen empties buckets of blood. The blood now pools around him, but it also flows up his robes, coating his flesh in an armor of tacky red gore.
His voice is a low rasp, laced with malice. “You—” he begins, but the adventurers attack.
With Daen are two mohrgs, undead things with powerful, muscled arms and three-foot tongues with paralytic saliva. Jhondal falls to this salive, but Gabriella brings him back into the fray with a well-timed prayer. This proves important because Daen, like the mummies in the tower above, is immune to all but enchanted weapons. What truly brings Daen to the brink of death, though, is Rook and the Pistol of Harrimast. While the other adventurers battle the mohrgs, Rook launches fireballs at Daen, and shoots him with a bullet fired from the great artifact. Daen’s many abjurations prove useless in the face of the divine weapon; he is burned despite his protection from fire dweomer, and he is injured despite his ironguard dweomer.
Daen calls up an unholy storm, but another artifact turns it back on him. Wind whipping her hair about her, Kari uses the sextant to harness the might of the storm and refocus it back on Daen. Though the evil energies of the storm cannot injured Daen, the violent winds make it a challenge for him to cast spells; thus, he must waste time dispelling a dweomer that he originally created.
The mohrgs are nearly defeated by the time Daen can refocus his efforts against the adventurers, and now four lions summoned by Aroth are in the fray. While the lions cannot injure Daen himself, they menace and distract him, and they prove quite capable tearing gobbets from the mohrgs.
Daen resolves to remove the man who has done him the most harm, first. He blasts Rook with a lightning bolt, which strikes the highwayman twice, once on the rebound, nearly killing him. When Daen sees that Rook is still a threat, he releases a barrage of magical missiles that rupture his spleen. Only Gabriella’s timely ministrations keep Rook alive.
Sensing magic hurts Daen, Ketham draws magical elfin katana and Jhondal—freed of paralysis by Gabriella—charges with his enchanted scimitar. Draya, having seen to the demise of the last mohrg, stands against Daen with his staff despite being unable to hurt the undead creature. Draya focuses on disrupting Daen’s spellcasting by striking him about the arms and hands.
Finally, Ketham and Jhondal finish what Rook so nearly did.
But Daen Danud does not go gently. The lich slowly rises off the floor, his arms flung out from his body as if he were being drawn and quartered. His body begins to shake as a sphere of energy envelopes it. His screaming becomes more feverish and high-pitched, and it appears that he cannot possibly open his mouth wide enough to excise all the pain and suffering he is experiencing. Then a torrent of blood and gore erupts from his mouth and shoots across the room. The crackling sphere surrounding him brightens, and the flow of fluid increases. It runs from his nostrils and ears, and then his eyes burst from the pressure, and the gushing continues from his empty sockets. This is much more blood than one human should be capable of holding. Perhaps, at the end of his time on this plane, the lich is being called to task for the hundreds of souls that he had slaughtered, for the thousands of gallons of blood he spilled for his own gain.
Then, it stops. The sphere contracts, folding the now shrunken corpse upon itself as it grows smaller. It grows still smaller until it reaches half its size, a quarter, and then even smaller than that…until only a sparkling circle the size of a gold piece hangs suspended before the adventurers, spinning rapidly. Then, even this minuscule remnant collapses inward, warping the space around it as it disappears.
For a moment, all is silence. And then the world explodes.
The blast of energy sends Rook to Death’s door, and it shatters the ear drums of Aroth and Gabriella both. The shockwave damages the stone foundations of the complex, putting all on a short time frame for collapse.
Act II, Scene XXXVI: The Bell of Harrimast
While Gabriella struggles to provide healing for the others despite her new disability, Ketham and Kari head out to find the bell.
Continuing past the “Buckets of Blood Room,” they find a second chamber piled with corpses. When they move to investigate the chute opening in the ceiling, they spot the secret door blown open by the blast of Daen’s demise. Beyond is a winding, narrow earthen passage that opens into a hidden cavern.
A large, one-foot-high by one-half-foot-wide bell of solid gold sits on an octagonal pedestal in the middle of this room. A number of inscrutable etched runes cover its surface, much like those they have seen on the sextant. A small golden, rune-decorated hammer lies next to the bell, and a barrel sits one foot away from the bell’s pedestal. There is nothing else of note in the room.
Ketham is shocked when he touches the bell, but Kari is not.
No sooner do they place their fingers on the bell’s surface than they both feel as if the air has been suddenly sucked out of the room. There is no noise. In fact, there is no sound whatsoever. Then, seconds later, the feeling is gone, replaced by a rumbling that begins deep within the ground. Then, this too passes
Moving hastily, they take the bell and return to the others. Along the way, Ketham investigates the chute, only to find a chamber where zombies work to stuff corpses down the chute for their master’s research.
Not bothering with these fresh horrors, the two return to gather their companions.
The adventurers retrace their steps taken following the invisible stalker. Near the steps to the fifth floor, though, the many tremors take their toll. They are about to begin their ascent up the stairs and away from this dungeon’s undead master when another bout of rumbling shakes the ground beneath their feet. A large crack opens up in the corridor behind them, and a portion of the staircase crumbles into another rift that is beginning to widen as they watch.
Ketham produces the Spyglass of Harrimast and uses it to open a portal to the surface of the island. From there the adventurers dash towards the northern cove where Lazarre waits, in the boat that will take them to the Sea Lion.
The island they saw when they arrived has undergone a radical transformation. The eastern peninsula has fallen into the sea. Smoke rises from the center of the island, the last remnants of the complex that until recently had lie beneath it. It looks as though those remnants will continue to billow forth for some time to come, which cannot be said of its master, who had, until recently, held its undead minions beneath his sway.
The bell is theirs, but their quest is not yet over. For there is still one more island to visit….