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Grave Secrets: Chapter I

"It's not the destination so much as the journey"- Captain Jack Sparrow

Dungeons and Dragons revolves around everybody playing their own character (much like many popular video games).  Unlike video games, the characters here aren't limited to programming, but to the player's own minds.  These character concepts are all their own, with a few things borrowed here and there.

Nizumo Misoka - A elven pirate (rogue in game terms), Niz is a tonfa wielding ex-slave who took to life on the high seas.  His charm and optimism (along with his thievery skills) make him a valuable asset to any party.

Chainer - A human shadow mage (nethermancer in game terms), Chainer spent most of his life battling in the gladiatorial arenas, seeking for a prize that would give him even greater power.  He speaks to few, and even fewer speak to him, on account of the giant spiked chain he wields with extreme skill.

Frenzy Forgestoker - A dwarf mercenary (knight in game terms), Frenzy sells his weapon to the highest bidder, hoping to earn enough profit that he might finally be able to buy some answers as to what happened to his family.  His willpower and strength make him a formidable enemy.

Now that our heroes (or anti-heroes) have been introduced, I would like to explain a little bit about where our adventure begins.  The heroes are starting off on Bloodsand Isle, in the only city, a large, coastal port called Rathbane.  There are a few important things to know about Rathbane:
  • It is virtually lawless.  Rebels seized the old barony and made it their own.  Though it is ruled by a powerful Queen, she takes little interest in the subjects.  As such, chaos ensues.
  • Many groups and guilds are constantly trying to gain more power or other goals, moving through the shadows and other hidden means.  Knowing who to trust can be difficult.
  • Rathbane lies with the coast to the south, and a large fortified wall to the north.  This keeps out the wild tribes and beasts.  A large volcano stands on the horizon in the north.
 With this knowledge, we can now begin the adventure.

The three characters have each been contacted by a woman named Ellustra to journey to the Fallen Cathedral to retrieve a crystal known as the Necroshard.  Ellustra also makes a request that they gather a large amount of dirt from the catacombs below the Cathedral as well.  While Chainer and Frenzy have no idea who Ellustra is (at least, not by name), Niz has made her acquaintance numerous times, and can't help but wonder what she has in store for him this time.  And so, the characters, not knowing each other at all, meet at dawn at the Siren's Dock, where they must work together if they wish to claim their reward.  A potion maker named Elric passes by and gives them a few potions of healing, telling them to come find him if they are able to make it back alive.

The party is taken along the coast of Bloodsand on a skiff, paddled by a grim, silent figure known as The Sculler.  Niz recognizes the telltale signs that mark him as being owned by Ellustra, which infuriates him.  The Sculler stops the skiff at the destination, and points up to the top of steep hills.  The Fallen Cathedral lies atop, overlooking the water. a charred black husk of a building.

Climbing the hill, the group sees a large, dead, gnarled tree.  Hanging from the dead branches, tied in chains, are three blackened skeletons.  They sway ominously, despite the air being still.  Chainer says nothing, and walks on.

The inside of the Cathedral is worse than the outside.  What used to be a temple to the Raven Queen (the goddess of fate and death), has now been desecrated into a shrine to Asmodeus, the most powerful devil in the Nine Hells.  Bookshelves hold burned books, religious murals have been vandalized, and a crude statue of Asmodeus stands at the front of the temple, dried blood pooled around the base.  The rafters are in danger of collapse, and a large open dirt pit stands in the center of the floor.  Niz examines it, and can only conclude that something climbed up the pit through the ground.  He climbs out as Frenzy discovers the hidden staircase that leads into the catacombs.

The party descends the staircase into pitch blackness.  As they reach the bottom, Chainer lights a lantern, only to discover the zombified remains of Rathbane soldiers.  They scramble at the party, seeking the fresh humanoids.  As the characters fight, other strange, bloodsucking wood creatures join the fray.  The party has no idea what they are.  Niz recognizes their tongue as elven as they scream "Blood!".
Frenzy takes care of the zombies, while Niz wonders what these new strange creatures are.  Chainer stands at the back of the room, ready to unleash his arsenal of spells.
Startled, but still determined to find the Necroshard, the group pushes onwards towards the direction where the wood creatures emerged from.  They find a few magic items from a bygone day, and they also find some ancient writings that seem to be the writings from one of the last four survivors of the original city before the rebels took over.

The catacombs are eventually discovered after fighting through a hoard of skeletons, although they are not empty, as one would have hoped.  An imp sits on a large pile of debris, muttering to himself while rummaging around.  Three zombies are magically frozen in place by the imp's magic.  Chainer tries to speak to the imp, who mutters and cackles what appears to be his name: M'haarck.  Niz tries to trick the creature into revealing where the Necroshard is, but the imp sees through his bluff and releases the zombies.  Niz, attempts to strike the imp down, but M'haarck vanishes with a mad cackle.  The doors of the catacombs suddenly shut, and Frenzy realizes they've been locked in.  At this time, Chainer notices that these zombies still bear the insignia of Rathbane, but that their appear to have had their fluids drained from their bodies, giving them a sunken appearance.

Once victorious, the party had a chance to explore the catacombs and gather up some of the dirt, as was requested of them.  More diary entries were found, though they it became clear that these were separate entries from the four remaining survivors.  Of the four coffins in the room, three were empty and appeared unused, while one had been broken open.

The journal entries appeared to be from these four people:
  • A knight who perished against the initial onslaught from the rebels while the other three were hidden in the catacombs
  • Zanarth, the baron's son, who perishes trying to defend his bride to be
  • Peleva, Zanarth's bride to be.  It is revealed that she gave the rebels the information they needed to being their rebellion.  The rebels leader, the Blood Rose, sent messengers telling Peleva she would be spared.  In the cathedral, she rushes to the army, only to be cut down.
  • Taloa, a servant girl.  She is the last to survive, and writes her last entry with bitterness, wishing her fate could be avoided

Running in the other direction, in an attempt to find the imp, the group instead found their way into a room with a large brazier filled with oil in the middle.  Two smaller braziers sat in the corners, already lit.  Niz, always one to prefer action, lit the middle brazier.  Instantly, three fire elementals rose from the flames.
Chainer's extreme frustration came through at this point, as he informed Niz that if he had just thought for a moment, the entire fiasco could have been avoided.  The trick was to extinguish the flames, not create more.

Beyond the doors, another set of graves lay.  Using his knowledge of magic, Chainer was able to open a secret door.  In a small room, a statue of the Raven Queen held a spinning purple crystal between her hands.  Chainer studied it for a moment, deemed it was safe, and then took it.  The party had retrieved the Necroshard.
The Necroshard, held by Chainer.  A great use of my artistic abilities, if I do say so myself.

Climbing back up the stairs to the main part of the Cathedral, the sun was beginning to sink.  As the last of the day's light fell below the horizon, the Necroshard pulsed with a sickly purple glow.  Outside, the ground shook, and noise erupted from all over.  Niz rushed to the window, followed by Frenzy.  In the dim light they could make out one thing: a zombie army had awakened.

"I thought you said that thing was safe!" Niz yelled at Chainer.  Frenzy drew his warhammer, ready for the oncoming assault.


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