It was springtime. Storm season in the Skara Archipelago meant a constant battering from the winds, rains, and roaring waves. The tiniest glimpses outside showed only chaos and destruction surrounding the island of Rigg, which meant the majority of the populace stayed indoors, biding their time until the winds died down.
In a small waterfront tavern, The Heavy Net, a random assembly of locals, sailors, travelers and adventurers gathered to tell tales, share stories, and to drink their time away, one tankard at a time, which Jed the barkeep was more than happy to provide for a silver or two.
As the storm finally broke in the mid-morning, the tavern-goers emerged to witness the storm’s aftermath. Sunken and broken ships, tattered buildings and vegetation scattered all about.
The storm had not been kind to the City of Rigg.
As his citizens emerged, the leader of the town, Sonas, began to take stock of the situation, bellowing orders to begin cleanup and to tend to any wounded.
Amidst the tumult was an older man, a baker by the name of Verne Timsun, looking for his boy, Timothy. Certainly an odd choice of name for the boy, to be sure.
Soon after, though, the boy appeared, running from the rocky coast of the bay, up and towards his father. For a moment, it seemed as if everything would quickly get back to normal.
But on closer inspection, it was discovered that the younger Timsun had been bitten – several times, in fact. A couple of the adventurers mentioned that those bites looked similar to those inflicted by the ghouls of the undead.
Gulliver, a half-elf paladin healer, offered her services, but though she was able to confirm that the bites were, in fact, made by the undead, there was nothing that either she, nor one of the more experienced local clerics, could do to help the boy except make him comfortable.
The boy, in a feverish state, mentioned that he’d run from his boat, leaving it in a cave about an hour’s walk down the coast. An expedition was formed to investigate, consisting of Gulliver the Half-Elf Paladin, Erial the Drow Druid, Stumbleduck the Gnome Warlock, and a reluctant pirate, the Human Ranger Thomas Rackham.
The four strangers set out towards where the boy had come from, relying on Thomas and Erial’s tracking skills to make their way to the mentioned cave. It was noted that Thomas was rather liberal in taking swigs from his hip flask of grog regularly. As well, the different personalities of the adventurers quickly came in sync – some to their benefit, and some to their mutual chagrin.
Eventually, the group came across the cave – A small pocket cut out of the rock by a cliff face that had fallen, likely made bare by the storm. As they entered to investigate, they noticed a rather unusual sight – That of a skeleton dancing merrily in the middle of the cave.
Thomas quickly fired his crossbow at the bouncing skull, but despite a direct shot between the eyes, the bolt passed through the bones, shattering against a cave wall. He stood, perplexed, until the giggle of Stumbleduck made him realize that it nothing but an illusion.
While the the warlock and paladin seemed quite amused, The pirate grumbled and moved towards the back of the cave.
The group entered into the deeper chamber, cut purposefully into the rock, until they found what looked to be a catacomb, along with several expired bodies which looked to be rather more sprightly than a deceased creature should be.
The four strangers battled the undead with sword, shield, crossbow and magic, making short work of the creatures, and returning the still of the dead to the catacomb chamber. A quick search of the place discovered nothing of value, except for a large, locked door, which none of the four could properly open.
They elected to return to the town, patching the ship up quickly and sailing it back to the city. Thomas was adamant about returning to the baker, Verne Timsun, and informing him of the return of his son’s craft, explaining to the others, “I’ve no reason to steal another man’s boat – especially if there’s nothing of value in it.”
The party returned to the tavern, asking the barkeep, Jed, if he knew of anyone who might be handy with locks. They were approached rather quickly by a rather shabbily-dressed halfling cleric, Isla Knotwise, and a burly human fighter who introduced herself as Gerda Bodenschatz.
The group agreed to take these two newcomers along, unaware that they were being followed.
Upon returning to the cave, the newcomers tried their hands at the lock, but Thomas was rather disappointed at their lack of success. Instead, the group was startled by the appearance of yet another new face, a Rogue named Brig Silvermane, who offered his services.
The time ticked by as the three took turns trying to either unlock the door, or break through it, though eventually it was the rogue who prevailed, swinging the gate open.
The motley crew made their way upwards into the tunnel beyond, until arriving at what looked to be a rather ancient torture chamber, with brown and blackened bloodstains all throughout the room.
There were several scrolls – Some readable, and others not, but the warlock mentioned that the place looked as if it were used to extract the living brains out of individuals.
This did not fill the group with confidence.
Stumbleduck eventually said what all were thinking, even if they had only the smallest inkling of what may lay in store for them.