The party exits the Winterbole Forest with their prize, anxious to return it to their patron Kuulain, when the first tremors strike. They find the old druid at the edge of the forest, gazing intently at the landscape of the Nentir Vale. He notes several aberrant phenomena which have manifested in the vale recently, including the earthquake and strange avian migratory patterns. At his prompting, an unusually perceptive Sweetlick notices the major ley line of the Nentir Vale above ground.
Kuulain reveals that he was once part of a crack commando unit sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Nentir Vale underground. Still wanted by the government, they survived as soldiers of fortune. Nerath had a problem, no one else could help, so the kingdom hired the K-Team to find and neutralize a powerful artifact used by attacking orcs to corrupt the landscape around the city with twisted energies from a far realm beyond the known planes. Although Kuulain and his comrades were successful in destroying the artifact, the corruption had spread for a hundred miles in every direction and could not be repaired.
Kuulain cites the difficulty in repeating the feat; the K-Team had stolen a spire pregnant with the essence of law from a palace in another plane in order to destroy the chaotic artifact. Such a feat will be difficult now, as the party has no access to planar travel. He notes, however, that an artifact imbued with law exists in the Sword Barrows: a gavel used to seal a vicious lich. Taking the gavel would release her, but the possibility that she may be defeated later is more appealing to the party than the complete destruction of the vale, so they set off toward the Sword Barrows in search of this artifact.
The Sword Barrows themselves are a chilling place, shrouded in mist and filled with crumbling grave monuments and tombs. Sweetlick, Return, Borodin, and Alleya arrive at the entrance to one grave complex and dither over whether or not to advance while a wraith approaches within the mist. As it nears, the wraith commands Chillborn Zombies and Burning Skeletons in its thrall to attack the party.
Return and Sweetlick assault the first Chillborn Zombie to shamble close enough. Alleya marks it and immediately charges off to tie up another Chillborn Zombie and a Burning skeleton by herself, keeping them away from her allies. Borodin attempts to support Return but is flanked by the Seething Wraith. The Wraith attacks his mind and forces him to attack Sweetlick. Return races around the Wraith and deals it a crippling blow. Sweetlick channels Avandra’s grace to heal Return and kill the wraith as Borodin runs off to heal Alleya. As the Seething Wraith falls, the original Chillborn Zombie, now heavily battered, retreats to acquire the support of a Burning Skeleton. Return follows, moving inexorably toward the gate to the cemetery.
Borodin follows, but cannot come to grips with the enemy. Sweetlick incites the warlord’s wrath, and he throws his sword at the Chillborn Zombie, killing it. The Zombie explodes, catching a Burning Skeleton in its blast zone and gravely wounding it. Alleya marks the nearest Zombie and teleports away, forcing her enemy to either follow her or accept the consequences. The Chillborn Zombie and the Burning Skeleton, her former foes, instead engage Borodin and Return. Borodin (using his javelin now), Return, and Sweetlick force back the assault. Return is immobilized, but Borodin advances smartly, retrieves his sword, and slashes at a Zombie in one smooth movement. The Skeleton damaged by its ally’s untimely explosion rushes to engage the isolated Alleya at range. Unfortunately for it, Alleya drags it into melee range far from its own allies. Rearmed, Borodin rushes to Return’s side as Sweetlick tries to remobilize the avenger. The Zombie advances again, but Alleya’s magic ablates its damage, teleports it to her side, and rips into it with her sword. As Return and Borodin lock down one Burning Skeleton, Alleya and Sweetlick wear down the other. Sweetlick downs the Skeleton near Alleya, and she shortly after finishes the last Zombie, avoiding its explosion as she races to assist her comrades. Borodin launches an encirclement maneuver around the last Skeleton. Immobilization does not prevent Return from teleporting to his side and ripping into the last enemy. Alleya arrives and, directed by her brother, fells the final foe.
After a brief rest, the team locates an entrance into the tomb they were sent to investigate. Return scouts the way, finding the path forward clear of traps. The party enters a large room watched over by several statues, two of archers and one of a warrior woman. Sweetlick catches a glimpse of what can only be a magic trinket deep in a flooded shaft, one he identifies as being filled with angry bones. Borodin resolves to secure it, and the group hatches a plan. They prize up a flagstone as a weight to carry the warlord downward. Borodin then strips off his heavy equipment and most of his clothing, borrowing a dagger from Sweetlick as a tool and offensive weapon (should either be required). After the eladrin is secured with ropes held by his allies, he grasps the flagstone and plunges in. After a swift descent, the swimmer retrieves a crown from its resting place and proceeds upward. Alleya, Return, and Sweetlick all pull together to raise their companion out of the water.
After a brief interlude for drying and dressing, the party resumes its recce of the tomb. They examine the only door out of the entryway, finding it sealed with druidic runes and displaying a message that they must use the knowledge of the ancients to find a way through. Upon unsealing the door, the party finds itself in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Again, Return scouts ahead, this time with dire results. At a junction in the passages, he is flanked by two colorful wights. He takes a hit and is immobilized, but manages to damage his attacker and teleport away as Alleya and Sweetlick move in to defend him. Borodin rushes to find a passage that will let him attack the enemy flank. More wights appear, and Alleya gives chase as Borodin stumbles across an ancient coint that weakens the wights. Alleya and Sweetlick immediately dispose of two wights, and the party manages to confine them all in the center of the maze as they collect the treasures littering its floors.
- 800 xp each (cumulative total = 9,360xp ea)
- 60 gp and 1 pp each (i.e. 160gp each) (cumulative total = 1,630gp ea)
- Philosopher’s Crown (Borodin)
- Everlasting Provisions (Sweetlick)