We being in media res, with Metzli standing before the adventurers on the road leaving Dwarfmount. She has ominous words to relay and promises that what she has to tell them will rock the adventurers to their very core. As she speaks, though, the sky around them suddenly darkens. Wind howls. The temperature plunges. Metzli looks as startled as the adventurers and murmurs under her breath, “Damn her black heart. She’s found me!” She steps toward the closest of the adventurers – Alain – and adds “You must-”
But a terrific bolt of lightning stabbing down from the heavens interrupts her! The lightning envelops the tiefling and the adventurers hear the briefest of screams before an explosion of immense power robs them of both sight and hearing. Long moments pass as they recover and when they finally blink the spots out of their vision, there is no sign of Metzli and Alain is some yards distant, his armor a smoking ruin. Bruno springs forward to lend aid – he uses his healing belt to restore Alain to consciousness but they quickly realize that their fighter friend is both blinded and deafened.
As the elf tends to their friend, Úzi firmly declares that the storm brewing overhead is far from natural and Maia casts detect magic whereupon she discovers a powerful lingering aura of conjuration clinging to the spot where Metzli stood moments before, an aura that brings to mind teleportation magicks though she has never heard of anything on this magnitude.
With the storm intensifying and Alain virtually incapacitated, the adventurers decide that seeking shelter and medical attention is the only course of action. Úzi, being the most traveled of their number, suggests heading toward Falcon’s Hollow, a mostly human logging town closer to them than Dwarfmount, and they quickly set off. Around them, the rain continues to fall but with increasing intensity. It is bitter cold.
They reach Falcon’s Hollow shortly after dusk and, after a quick exchange with town guards, are allowed entrance and are directed to the temple. There they meet Sister Jenya, the sole member of the clergy in the town, and upon seeing their need, she ushers them into the dark and still temple. Alain will need some additional time to tend to, she reveals, as she had not prepared the spells necessary to cure blindness and deafness and there is a curious enchantment lingering around him she would also like to dispel. Maia is tended to (for the appropriate donation, of course, though seeing the Spartan surroundings of the small church, the adventurers are able to deduce that there are few of the Faithful in Falcon’s Hollow.) Leaving Alain under the sister’s care, the adventurer’s head to the Sitting Duck, the sole inn in the Hollow where they arrange for lodgings and stabling for their animals. Walen tries his hand at performing before the night crowd but mostly bombs – he blames it on being rusty at performing before a crowd and, indeed, in his last performance, he has certainly improved.
The following morning, the adventurers head toward the small temple where they discover Sister Jenya in conversation with two desperate locals, a beautiful half-elf woman and a thickset man wearing a butcher’s smock. Curiosity prompts Maia to listen in and she quickly learns that these two locals are greatly concerned over their respective missing children. Sensing an opportunity, Maia volunteers the aid of the adventurers and Sister Jenya gladly accepts. In fact, the priestess says, she will ask for no donations from them to cure Alain if they investigate. Thinking this to be little more than half a day’s work of poking in corners until they find the children playing somewhere, the adventurers agree.
As it turns out, though, they quickly realize that it isn’t that simple. A description of the children from their efforts at gathering information paints an excellent picture of the five missing.
According to other children asked, this group is something of a tight knit bunch and had accepted a dare to spend a night in the burned out husk of an abandoned orphanage several miles from the town. Further investigation uncovers the history of that orphanage and how its headmistress took in orphans from the Goblinblood Wars nearly a decade earlier. The fire that destroyed the orphanage some months back was unexpected and consumed everyone. Rumors that the orphanage is haunted are rampant among the children, especially when linked to a nearby dwarven monastery long abandoned. This monastery is said to have watched over an ancient tomb that Úzi vaguely recalls hearing tales of, and when Walen recalls tale of a dwarven hero called Glintaxe, Úzi recalls that his great-grandfather, Búzi, bore that appellation before he vanished centuries ago.
Thus armed with knowledge, the adventurers set out from the Hollow and make good time to the orphanage where they quickly locate the missing children’s camp … and signs of a struggle! Further investigation uncovers hints that kobolds were responsible and the adventurers follow the trail left by the kobolds directly to the ruined monastery and the tomb carved into the rock. Leaving behind their steeds, they creep into the darkness…
And quite quickly, find themselves engaged in a bitter struggle with several kobolds warrior who prove to be surprisingly resilient for such small beasts. These creatures were monitoring an even number of unarmored and smaller members of their race tearing down an obsidian obelisk, and these lesser cousins flee in terror at the first signs of bloodshed. As the fight draws to a close with the fall of the last warrior kobold, the adventurers hear bloodcurdling cries that end abruptly with sizzles. Curious, they investigate, with Maia sending her faithful (but scared) familiar forward to scout; the raven returns quickly, warning of an approaching ghost! Úzi creeps forward, followed by Bruno, and indeed, he sees what appears to be a ghost floating forward – a breastplate embossed with Úzi’s family crest hovers in the air with a battleaxe gripped tightly in one gauntlet…
But it isn’t a ghost. Instead, the adventurers realize that it is a gelatinous cube and Úzi’s great-grandfather suffered and ignominious death so long ago. With a cry of mingled anger and fear (though he’d never admit to the latter), Bruno charged the cube and smote it harshly with his scythe. To everyone’s shock and horror, it continues forward and envelops the elf barbarian, but the damage he has dealt badly injured it. The cube’s acid burns away his clothes but a well aimed rock hurled by Úzi strikes the cube in its sole remaining strong point and the ooze collapses, unable to hold itself together any longer.
Gasping with relief at the close call – for only now do the adventurers realize that Bruno could have easily been slain by the unnatural ooze – the heroes take stock of their situation. As they turn to discuss their next course of action, they hear the shouts and clash of arms from deeper within the tomb. Someone is alive and fighting! They rush forward where they see…