Shorn 21st, 1048 TR : In the morning, the group gathered around the food-heaped table and discussed matters. No one seemed to know much about the gnomes, except for Squirrel, who mentioned the Basalt Clan were rumored to be from the Feywild, and not what you might call “locals”.
Word quickly spread through the town, that the knight was approaching. Everyone made their way out into the market, to watch Sir Turigarth Fomirian and his two hands of cavalry ride towards the inn. He and his troops dismounted, and to the gathered notables, he quickly announced:
“Due to the absence of other authority here, I shall relay the thoughts of our Lord on this matter. I have heard of brigands in the region for some time – perhaps they are these gnomish brigands, or perhaps not – I cannot say. But I have come to ensure that the ownership of these lands in question, are in the grasp of the Lord of Sabre River.”
“I, vested with the authority of the Lord Rainford, am well-suited to take charge of this matter. It is known to me that your village founder was one Ver’Kusi, and I have seen the legal documentation in the HErald’s College that show this land was legally purchased by him. For lack of an heir, however, the lands resorted back to the Lord of Sabre River. All local citizens will remain on their designated lands, and working them, submit their legally bound obligations, including their taxes and moneys-in-kind. Foreigners in residence who will not submit to these terms will be given the grace period of three days to vacate their claims on the lands or face expulsion.
After a slight wave to the gathered notables, he entered the inn, and spying the large, food-covered table headed towards it. Fangrik swiftly took the largest chair at the table, and growled at the interloper, chasing him off to another table nearby. He then sat down, ordered ale and waited on food to be brought. The local town counselors gathered into a line, and awaited his pleasure.
Squirrel, however, took the chance to approach Edensor the Merchant, and offered to move to the head of the line and speak with the knight. She boldly confronted the knight, and in broad words gained his attention and deflected it to Edensor. Edensor sheepily offered the services of the adventurers to resolve this matter of the gnomes promptly, to which the knight responded, wiht a cloth covering his mouth;
“Very well, I seek this matter resolved quickly, and while I refuse to make concessions with MONSTERS <<odd>> you may attempt to resolve this matter in the best way possible, or let the gnomes submit their grievance to me in writing and the courts can resolve it.”
Taking their leave (and cheek-pouches filled with food), the group gathered their supplies and equipment, and spoke with Edensor outside the inn. He said, that;
“The council doesn’t care about the matter, really, they just want the bandits to go away. Take the matter into your own judgement on how to proceed…”
Following the recently discovered tracks leading about an hour north-east along the river, the adventurers found a temporary camp of tents, a pen of pack ponies and a couple guards. The group made their presence known (not intentionally so), and soon a large group of gnomes gathered to menace the adventurers. Among the leaders they spied a young female and male, and an elder one who seemed in charge. The female was familiar to them, as they had met her among the second group of gnomes in the village, the one who had threatened (but not actually hurt) some hostages.
The adventurers identified themselves as having been sent by the village to negotiate, and after the gnomes reminded they had a handful of hostages with them, the adventurers tried to get some released (something Fangrik was rather “doggedly” persistent about), they refused. They claimed one Ver’Kusi had stolen their belongings and taken their lands from them. During the conversation, it was apparent the gnomes had a different view of “time”, seeing Ver’Kusi as still living, even though it was probable that he was dead. The exact item in question turned-out to be a large bronze cog; The Gnomish Cog. If the adventurers bring them this “key”, the prisoners would be let go, and the gnomes would leave. They accepted, and headed back to the village.
Returning to the village, the adventurers began searching for answers, eventually finding-out that Ver’Kusi was the village founder many generations ago, and that he was died and interned in a “Fey Tomb” about an hour to the south, next to the mountains. They were warned that the site had some sort of fey protections… Reporting to Edensor regarding the situation, they then headed south across the plains.
After four-and-a-half miles of following the trail, the group found what appeared to be a maze painstakingly formed from a hedge of thick brambles. The hedge was brown, dead, and quite forboding. A path had been hacked (?) through it, winding off towards the forest and what they hoped was the Mausoleum of Ver’Kusi.
Following the ages-old tradition of “Left Hand Rule”, they quickly made their way through the maze, passing several stretches of white cobblestone, a carved wooden bench, and eventually were ambushed by giant rats. Although Kruck took ill with Filth Fever. Eventually they found an exit being watched by a pair of crows, and entered a small wooded glade at the foot of the mountains. In the center was a one-story stone building partially shrouded in darkness, a drab and unattractive, but solidly built with a black slate roof. Its single door was blacked oak and bound in cold iron.
The group noticed movement in the shadows above, and were not surprised when three large spiders leaped from the trees to engage them. The battle was over quickly, and after a short rest, they approached the entrance, finding the door and all the cracks chinked with black tar. Assuming it was meant to keep something in, they opened the inset lock carefully to reveal a dark tomb.
The first chamber was a small foyer with engravings of a hearth on either side. The room’s corners were filled with 2’-tall bronze urns etched with images of running deer. They appeared half-filled with sand or ash. The floor was tightly packed earth. Proceeding carefully through the chamber, the group identified the “Hearth” symbol as being one of the older images associated with Larani – The Celestial Paladin, as the founder of civilization.
The next chamber was larger, and featureless, with a dozen 3’-tall clay statues scattered about. Half were soldiers, the other half performing household chores. The group carefully moved the statues against the walls, so as not to damage them, noticing they were fair carved images of gnomes…
The last chamber was wide, and had three alcoves against the far wall. The two on the sides were carved with images of deer and dogs running together, each with three wooden coffers sitting side-by-side, none large enough to hold a grown man. The central one bore a large stone sarcophagus with a bronze lid. A humanoid image had been carved into the bronze, but either by design or lack of skill, it was both vague and unrecognizable.
Carefully moving around the coffin, the group found the lid pried open easily enough (except for Kruck who kept pulling…), pushing it away from the entrance. Inside, they found a slowly decaying human corpse. Carved into the sarcophagus above the head of the body, was the words “May the Gods forgive me”, in Common. Around the body was draped a gold-embroidered tunic (still intact), a set of carved wooden chess pieces and a matching board, and a bronze decanter. There was a set of silver bracers, broach and pin, and a collection of gemstones opposite. Lastly, the arms of the corpse were crossed over a scabbard holding a short sword.
Ash Cogward took no time in reaching-out and grasping the short sword. Immediately after, the dim lights went-out, leaving only Squirrel with a light, and everyone else blinded. A hideous howling erupted all around, and a sense of dread and impossible cold swept the chamber. Everyone beat a sudden retreat back through the hall towards the entrance.
Kruck was swarmed by a host of rotting zombie hunting dogs, taking severe damage before making the relative safety of the rest of the group near the exit. The gibbering shadow struck from the darkness, approaching Ash with dogged determination. Ash managed to get a glowrod active, that barely let him see the monster attack, as Lord Taumus of House Daure managed to get off a vast flash of burning fire that slew most of the zombie hounds. Very quickly, the group surrounded the shadowy wraith, and using all the powers at their disposal, dispatched the creature, with Taumus reducing its insubstantial abilities with her powers, and Fangrik giving the final killing blow.
Taking a short rest to heal themselves, the group returned inside the catacomb, and retrieved the gemstones, silver jewels and other items that seemed valuable. Ash identified the sword as being Brightflame, though there was nothing else known about it. Examining the tomb, the group found that there were three bronze cogs locked into place under the bronze lid, and using Squirrel’s ability to shrink things, dragged the door out of the tomb. The group then encamped near the entrance to the maze, keeping an eye on the creepy tomb’s entrance….