- Adil Nadhi. Knight sailor, captain of a small ship.
- Cedvik Nightingale. Wizard criminal. Sight magic.
- Elden. Wizard scholar. Travel magic.
- James Thorne. Scoundrel criminal.
- Robin. Elven Scout, Woodscraft.
Kan Vazaz. Scoundrel criminal. Remained on the boat for this one.
The Way In
As the scoundrels were gathering wood to build their miniature crane, they encountered Robin. The elf had his own boat and had made landfall on the island to refresh his water supply. He agreed to join them on their expedition, defeating the undead was a worthy goal. He waved off the idea of a share of treasure. Vazaz elected to remain with the ship and make sure their exit plan was secure in case they riled up something and had to leave in a hurry.
Hefting the big pulley repurposed from the ship rigging, and the support posts and parts, the scoundrels hiked back to the stone temple over the Pillar of Flame. They entered cautiously through the secret door.
The emberdead milled around in the entry chamber. The raiders cleared them out quickly, knocking a pile down before the energies destabilized and the rest fell apart. Cedvik once again focused his magical energies through his amulet; since his had been destroyed, he had borrowed Thorn’s amulet the day before. (Vazaz also loaned out his Simmerbrew to the active adventurers.) Once again, Cedvik miscalculated the energies, and detonated the overtaxed charm.
Moving on to the doorway, they saw another big batch in the hallway. Cedvik threw up an illusion to deflect their attention, and the raiders considered how best to proceed. Another battle, or wait for them to lose interest and discorporate or wander off? They withdrew to the jungle outside and rested for a while, recovering from incidental injuries from the fight.
When they returned, the hallway was fairly clear. They hustled to the balcony without further incident, building the crane while posting guard to get warning if another wave of emberdead closed in.
Thorn was the lucky raider who got to ride the slowly swaying tarred rope down into the heat mirage to retrieve the Emberstaff suspended in its magic, about a hundred feet below. Adil and Robin handled the windlass, and Elden used his travel magic to steady the swinging rope, while Cedvik posted lookout.
Shrugging off the rippling waves of heat that dried out the soaked and tarred rope, Thorn endured the long trip down. He managed to get the rope swinging enough for him to snatch the staff without being thoroughly cooked himself. As the tar began to melt on the rope, causing sticky problems, he struggled to climb while also holding the staff. His training as an acrobat thief were invaluable as he hauled himself up the rope, keeping the momentum going even as the windlass crew dealt with jams and delays as the makeshift equipment got gummed up by wet and tarry rope exposed to heat.
Thorn reached the balcony with the prize, only lightly toasted. Lady Urli, the scholar who funded the expedition, was eager to claim the Emberstaff on the spot. Adil hesitated, considering they were still in danger (and he was unclear on the difference between a scholar and wizard, so the stakes of her getting the staff were certainly unknown.) The rest of the raiders shrugged, and Urli insisted, so she got the staff and demanded they escort her out.
The Pillar of Flame was sluggishly rousing defenses, but the raiders got clear. They carried the Emberstaff, the pulley, and enough of the steaming rope to have some insurance in case rough weather or disaster complicated their voyage home. (They abandoned the rest of the equipment used to make the crane.)
Reaching the ship, they planned their next move. Urli was done going into the Pillar of Flame, she got the Emberstaff and was keen to get to work studying it. Cedvik asked the other scoundrels to give him one of the enchanted amulets to repel the undead, but no one else was willing to give theirs up. Urli offered Cedvik her fancier, sturdier amulet in exchange for a chunk of deathbrittle the size of her head. He took the offer under consideration, accepting a bag of the proper size (but a bag made of leather only, with no protective properties; just to give him a sense of the size.)
The raiders remained interested in recovering the Ashlord’s amulets and solving the mystery of the resting place of the Lovely Three.
Scouting the Pillar of Flame
In the morning, the raiders returned through the secret passage. This time, Cedvik had a different plan. Rather than chopping their way down through the Pillar of Flame’s many dangers, he would use a ritual to project his point of consciousness. The ritual rendered him insensible to the waking world, requiring all his concentration, but he could skim through solid matter. He would not be able to see magical energies, but he could see in the dark, and pick up visual information for about ten minutes moving at high speeds. Once the raiders entered the Pillar of Flame, he arranged himself and sent his magical vision through the stone corridors.
He reported his findings with a sing-song tune; he could sing, but not hear the other raiders’ responses.
- He found a sacrificial table and shrine with expensive knives and jewelry, guarded by creepy statues.
- Also, a strange table with spikes on it. A kneeling shrine for priests to prepare themselves.
- A long hall, supported by bone pillars, where cultists could ritually complete the journey from life to death. At the end, a reflective black plate of Deathbrittle, the end of the road.
- The blocky corridor in the center wound down around the central shaft, leading to the third level.
- A statue of the Ashlord overlooked a large chamber deep with crematorium dust where emberdead uneasily slumbered, forming and crumbling. To one side, a crystal chamber deeply crusted with deathbrittle.
- Off to the other side, there was an audience hall of sorts, where someone could stand at a podium and address the gathered followers. Behind curtains, a long chamber with more reflective deathbrittle plates mounted on the wall.
- Through an ornate door connected to that chamber, Cedvik found what appeared to be a tomb kennel for the tarry hounds, and through a connected door, the burial chamber for the Master of the Hunt. Quiescent, the undead monster was buried with a blade matching the depiction of the Sundering Blade on the first level.
- On the far side of the level, a wide and crooked hall housed thousands of corpses stacked in standing position, waiting for the necromancers to wake them and summon an army. Another of the black wall-mounted plates was in this chamber, flanked by braziers.
The duration of the spell was running out, so Cedvik withdrew hastily to his body and awoke.
Sobered by the dangers and treasures below, the raiders withdrew to form a plan of attack for their next expedition.
3 experience for the humans, 0 for the elf.