- Adil Nadhi. Knight sailor, captain of a small ship.
- Cedvik Nightingale. Wizard criminal. Sight magic.
- Elden. Wizard scholar. Travel magic.
- James Thorne. Scoundrel criminal.
- Kan Vazaz. Scoundrel criminal.
The volcanic island of Pallspreader is studded with deathbrittle, impossible to settle because of the restless dead. The Pillar of Flame is an underground fortress from which the Ashlord, an undead warlord, ruled a modest seafaring territory with emberdead aboard blackened ships.
Urli, a scholar from Tecnica, believes she has found the location of the Pillar of Flame. The fortress was buried in stone and warded by a Tecnican warlord to assure none of the slain Ashlord’s lore or artifacts would escape the site to cause further trouble. Urli offered the scoundrels 200 gp, talismans called Amulets of the Six Sages that would help protect them from the emberdead, and a Simmerbrew healing potion each to come along. Also, she knows of the way in, and has studied. All she wants is the Emberstaff, and the scoundrels can keep anything else they find.
Enter the Pillar of Flame
The ship dropped anchor off the coast, and the scoundrels (along with Urli) sloshed ashore and headed through the jungle to the stone temple built to cap and restrain the Pillar of Flame. Urli conducted a ritual to disarm the entry, and they pushed their way through the big stone door. They sensed their intrusion reverberating through the place, and the emberdead began to pull together to assault them.
They passed a big portrait frieze of the Emberlord by the entrance. Further in, they found a balcony overlooking a massive 120 foot drop, a vertical shaft that appeared to only be accessible from the balcony at the top and entry at the bottom. In the center, a dome of embers radiated a heat mirage up the center of the shaft, and at the center of the mirage at the bottom hung what appeared to be the Emberstaff.
Depictions of Treasure
The heat was daunting, so they decided to look for another way down. Continuing on, they passed three works of art on the wall depicting the Emberstaff, the Master of the Pack’s Sundering Blade, and the Amulets of the Lovely Three. Urli gave them a little background on each, delighted to show off her research.
She told them the Lovely Three were undead consorts to the Ashlord who were slain beyond recall by the Witherfeather Archers, then entombed somewhere in the Pillar of Flame along with the Emberheart amulets the Ashlord crafted for them. Apparently one of the craftsmen forced to work on the Pillar of Flame escaped, and before he died of madness and injury, he whispered something about the access to the tomb of the Lovely Three being guarded by the burning blood of the slain monarchs.
Emberdead managed to shamble towards them. The slow-moving and suffering manifestations were easily dispatched.
Behind the Door
The raiders reached an intersection with two doors and stairs leading further down. The door appeared to have a chunk of polished deathbrittle in the center. They hauled it open and cautiously went inside, discovering two pillars made of bones as well as two artistic frames. The frames contained crowns on skulls embedded in the artwork; perhaps these were the slain monarchs.
As the raiders puzzled over these elements, more emberdead arrived. The raiders closed the stone door, but the emberdead were able to transport through the deathbrittle at the center of the door, entering the room and taking them by surprise. Cedvik concentrated his magic through the amulet, boosting its effect on the emberdead to damage several at once with a single burst rather than repelling them. In the fierce fighting, Adill struck one of the bone pillars, attempting to shatter it and possibly disrupt the undead.
The Tarry Hound
A horrible tarry hound slid out of the pillar’s center and assaulted the raiders, putting them in desperate peril. The wavering energies of the emberdead gave out, and they collapsed into heaps of ash as the raiders finished off the tarry hound–but before the battle was over, Cedvik lashed out at the other pillar–and another tarry hound emerged.
The horrific monsters occasionally concentrated their energies and regenerated their vitality, and also in the heat of combat they burst into flame, causing further damage. The raiders struck them with weapons, only to have those weapons tugged out of their grip by the tarry substance of the bodies. (They recovered most of their weapons.)
Battered and keenly feeling their mortality, the raiders struggled with whether to retreat or double down. As they pulled back to the hallway, Thorne tried to open another stone door, but the rest of the raiders pulled him along as they retreated down the stairs, deeper into the Pillar of Flame rather than heading for the exit.
The surviving tarry hound gave harrowing chase. They threw canteens of water at it, but the flame was only dimmed and not extinguished. Cedvik attempted to concentrate power through his amulet again and it burst, overloaded.
Despairing of outrunning the beast, they turned on it and managed to slay the foul thing. Breathless and harried, they had a rapid conference on next moves, and decided to head back towards the surface.
Returning to the skulls and crowns, Thorne and Vazaz broke the skulls and pulled the crowns free; a nice payday. Reluctant to retreat, they pushed open the other stone door and discovered a chamber with another portrait of the Ashlord–and stairs up. They discovered the interior side of a secret door built on the exterior, a way to enter and exit without disrupting the seal that was supposed to hold the Pillar of Flame inert below.
The scuffed-up raiders retreated to Adill’s ship to rest, refill their sheaths for weapons lost, and then put together a block and tackle. Using that and the tarred rope, and maybe some quenching magic to keep the rope and frame from setting fire, perhaps they could get down to the Emberstaff first thing on the next expedition…
- Thorne gave his amulet to Cedvik, so he could tune to it overnight and use it on the next expedition.
- They got 2 crowns worth 500 gp each.
- They build a block and tackle, and pull together about 150 feet of tarred rope.
- 3 experience each.