The tension simmered for a few moments between Rage Claw and Long Tom, but eventually things calmed down and the Nar just turned from the captured wizard in disgust.
The players debated on what to do with Otho, and took her gag off to ask her a few questions. She cut to the point thusly:
“What do you guys want to let me walk? You are adventurers, you want money. I know where you can find lots of it. Let’s talk.”
Alfric was all about it, but the other characters wanted her to be dragged back to town to go on trial. She was there, as Long Tom summarized it, to activate a doomsday weapon and destroy the empire. She said that she wasn’t there to activate it at all, just to secure it. She pointed out that had she wanted to activate the weapon, she already would have.
When that didn’t work, she mentioned that there was a threat to the eastern border of the empire that she could tell them about in exchange for her freedom. That didn’t move them, so she shut up.
The players looted the rest of the place, went back to the rats and traded cheese for trinkets. After that, they started heading back. On the journey, Alfric went and asked her what the danger to the border was, and she said that a dragon was involved (which tied up the rumors they’d heard that a dragon was seen to the east). But even that didn’t move the PCs to cut a deal.
Otho had a journal in her bag which shed some light on what was going on, but was unclear. Otho had merely employed the thugs they’d killed, and had made a deal with cultists in the east who told her ‘the location of one of the Lichways.’ That sentence made Anika very concerned.
Back in town, the party handed Otho over to Decius and spent some downtime training and dealing with their loot. Decius rewarded them with some letters of credit, as well as citizenship to Threshold, which allowed them to purchase property. Alfric and Long Tom went in together to buy a nice two story house, which they intend to build a wall around and eventually make into a ‘guild house’ for their adventuring group.
Trying to decide what to do, I reminded them of various leads they could explore, including the fact that Caldwell wanted them to come back and do another mission for him. Long Tom wanted to go back to the Caves of Chaos, but the other two players wanted to do the short mission for Caldwell. So that was what they ended up doing.
Caldwell met them at Raven’s Heart, and told them that though he’d moved into his castle, he kept hearing sounds coming from the basement that he couldn’t get into. So he hired a wizard to dispel the magic on the trap door, but couldn’t get the wizard to explore the basement. He offered them money to explore it and clean it out, or drive off whatever it was that was making the noise.
The party bought some gear and then went into the basement. Overall it was fairly small place (15 rooms) so they went and ran through it pretty quickly. They found some crazy mages who attacked them, some yellow mold that almost killed Long Tom, and a gelatinous cube that taught Rage Claw the painful lesson that not everything should be touched with a bare hand. That was fun, I’d not had the chance to use a ‘Cube in decades. They encountered some barbarian warriors, the leader of which was wielding a sword that actually cut through Rage Claw’s armor and struck him a grievous blow.
And then they found a teleporter that transported them into a room full of sarcophagi. Opening the first one reversed the teleporter and allowed them out of the room, but hey, 9 more giant boxes for the buried dead. There has got to be fun stuff in that, right? So one by one, they opened the boxes. In most they found nothing, in some they found piles of coins. In one, a red mist was released that corroded Cronyn’s spear head (but luckily everyone else avoided it’s effects and no one lost any important metal items.
But two of them held wights. For reasons this DM doesn’t understand, they asked Anika to help lift the lids on the sarcophagi. And, as fate would have it, when the popped the lid on a wight tomb, it reached out and grabbed the young mage, devouring part of her life force (she’d just made level 2 at the beginning of the session…back to level one it was). She fell back and the rest dropped the lid back on the creature. A single mighty blow threw the lid off and out the creature came. Everyone with magic weapons launched into action, but they couldn’t kill it fast enough. It leapt over Rage Claw, going for Lilith, but the nar sliced the undead monster in half before it could touch her.
Needless to say, Anika refused to lift any more lids. This event actually made them consider not opening the rest of the lids, but Long Tom wanted to press on, so…out popped another wight. This time, its grasping hand fell on empty air as Cronyn danced away. He swung the sword they’d taken from the barbarian at the hand, and when it hit, the blade flared with white flames that consumed the wight’s hand. Still, it came, but they put it down with a few strong blows.
After that, they were done. They pulled a decent haul of treasure out of the basement, and took Caldwell’s pay. It wasn’t enough to return Anika’s loss, but it brought her nearly back to level two. She is weaker and paler than normal, but still capable. I’m interested to see if she’ll stick around after leveling.