After an extended break, our 'heroes' are back. Props to the commenter who described them as 'The Master Bastards', the group loved it. I'll have to link the dungeon used once the group has run entirely through it. With no further introduction, we continue our adventure.
Having rested after the previous night's revelries (theft, fighting, hanky-panky and some more theft) the group discussed plans for the near future. Having been hired to raid a tomb about two days out, they decided to give Tesco ample time to copy across some spells as well as ensuring that Pepper's plate would be completed. Despite the generous time given (10 days), Tesco only managed to copy a single spell across - Sleep. During this time, Abraham Von Gutchensmark refused to eat the standard pub fare, dining only at the most expensive eateries about town. Meanwhile, the rest of our group got friendly with a fellow group of adventurers heading in the same direction. They decided to journey together, seeking safety in numbers - or so they claimed. Other notable events include Milk paying a bitter old lady a significant sum for tuition in the art of poison making whilst Gutch acquired his first retainer - an apprentice tailor (A Von Gutchensmark must always look his best!) With this done, our group set out.
The other group of adventurers had sent an advance party ahead of the group, claiming they would 'prepare the ground' for their next job. However, the group refused to share any details regarding this job, saying that the nature of the 'snatch job' made it impossible. Oddly, our group decided to respect this professionalism. The first day of travel passed without incident, the area around the town being relatively civilized and hospitable. Our group set up in a small clearing, obviously intended for travellers in the woodland of this country. In order to ease any possible hostility, both groups agreed to post a guard, reducing the chances of treachery.
The first watch was taken by Pepper and Doug, one of the other group. Doug attempted to have a friendly conversation with Pepper, which went something like this -
"So, you be the fightin' man of yer outfit?"
*Pepper nods completely silently*
At which point he moved to the other side of the clearing. At this point, Tesco arose, speaking his words of power, ensnaring the other group in a enchanted sleep. Following this, Pepper charged and slew the posted guard whilst the rest of the group set about murdering the sleeping adventurers. James (the apprentice tailor) watched on in horror as this happened, and continued to stare on aghast as our brave champions searched through their pockets. They gathered up the signature heavy crossbows of the group, and positioned the bodies to appear as though they had been ambushed, shooting one of the bodies multiple times. They performed a similar procedure on one of their horses before saddling up the rest and riding away.
They travelled through the dark for a couple of hours before coming across the next clearing, electing to make camp there. This time, they decided to post Milk and Gutch as guards. During Milk's watch, he spotted something most unusual - a pair of thin, branch-like protrusions in the road. They twitched at him when he moved. Taking this as a sign of friendliness, he waved his fingers back. Eventually, the protrusions retracted and there was a low bass rumble from the ground. When the watch switched over, Milk informed Gutch of this oddity. Gutch resolved to watch the road for the most part, only occasionally checking elsewhere.
So it was for several hours, until he performed his routine perimeter check - they were back, but this time on the forested side. Gutch quickly lost patience with the game that had so amused Milk, and matched to his tent to kick him awake. Upon this rapid movement, a terrible and great insect tore out of the ground where the antenna were, a clicking of it's mandibles filling the air and it's strange stink infected the air. The rest of the party were shocked awake by this, but not Gutch. Channelling the true spirit of a Von Gutchensmark, he bravely threw his sword at the beast. Though this attempt missed horribly, he did give a tree a solid lesson in swordsmanship.
Ignoring this, the insectile aberration snatched up one of their freshly stolen horses in its jaws, before dragging the unfortunate equine back into it's subterranean lair. The sound of terrible crunching and the screaming of the horse echoed forth, finally cut off by the collapsing of the temporary tunnel. At this point, the group agreed 'getting the fuck out of there' was the best bet.
Dawn found the party somewhat more rested, although on the move - they had slept in the cart whilst riding through the night, giving the casters plenty of time to prepare spells. The plan for the day was to search out the burial mound the tomb was located under, which should be located in a clearing somewhere in the forest. Thankfully, it was not long before they managed this. Hiding in the tree line, they saw a long approach to the large, narrow earth-work. Stone slabs made up the entrance at the front, leading into the interior of the tomb. They also noticed a cluster a trees crowning the mound, with what appeared to be a large sheet stretched between them, forming a crude roof.
Gutch decided to flank the mound, using the tree line as cover whilst the main group would march forwards towards the mound. The plan was to give Gutch a head-start, allowing him time to scout out the top of the mound from cover. Upon reaching his vantage point, he could make out three large humanoid figures atop the hill. At this point, Milk and Pepper set out, shields raised whilst Tesco flitted about behind them, clutching a heavy crossbow. The figures atop the hill spotted our adventurers, and a hunting horn rang out. In response, Gutch fired off his crossbow, scoring an early kill on one of the creatures, which were now charging down-hill towards our group.
They were 9 foot furred humanoids, with features somewhere between dog and hyena. The remaining two clutched two-handed weapons and were clad in rough leather armour. As they closed on our party, they were subject to two missile attacks - Tesco let fly a crossbow bolt, severely weakening one. Milk followed this up with a tossed spear at the last possible second, which lodged in the throat of the injured beast, finishing it off. The halberd-wielding Gnoll swung hard at Pepper, who none-the-less fought off the blows. However, our merry band had not noticed a flanking group of two, who slammed straight into the group, swinging their weapons - whilst Tesco avoided harm, Milk was struck down. Only unconscious, but out of the fight. To worsen the situation, another two of the creatures crested the mound.
The situation looked dire, and Tesco knew what he had to do. He spoke the words that tore asunder reality, allowing the denizens of Chaos itself to slip through and make merry hell upon our world. A terrible Demon-Snake poured forth, a stinking smoke rising from it's body. It leapt upon one of the beasts atop the mound, coiling him over and over in it's terrible folds. Luckily, the stinking fumes were enough to leave the victim and it's companion retching, unable to fight back. The Gnolls doom was sealed.
Seeing Milk go down, Gutch realised that the time for derring-do and brave deeds was upon him. He charged the creature responsible, stabbing his foe in the back with his short sword, dealing a terrible injury upon it. Despite this, the foe stood yet, malice clear in its eyes. Pepper dispatched the creature attacking Tesco, but remained mindful of the original halberd armed foe, who took the chance to swing for him - yet still he failed to get to grips with Peppers new plate. Unluckily, the grievously injured Gnoll repaid Gutch in kind, spinning on the spot and downing him in a single blow. The Snake-Demon's chosen victim was helpless, the life being crushed out of him every moment. His companion stumbled out of the smoke, and tried to engage the snake at range with his spear, but failed to loosen it's grip.
Tesco downed the grievously injured foe responsible for dropping Gutch and Milk, whilst Pepper began laying about the foe who had troubled him since the beginning. The snake finished it's first victim and sprung after the second, successfully constricting him. The terrible squeezing began. The remaining Gnoll made a hail-mary attempt on Pepper to no avail. The remaining party members made quick work of the unfortunate individual, and Tesco released the Snake of it's binding, allowing it to return from whence it came.
At this point our group set about looking after their injured companions. Most self-sacrificingly, Milk used his healing spell on Gutch, bringing him back up to full health, at which point he finished the previous sentence "A Von Gutchensmark never goes ... DOWN!" The party, at this point, decided to rest the day, allowing Milk to heal up before they headed into the barrows below. Pepper agreed to guard the slumbering Milk and the cart whilst Gutch and Tesco did some investigating. They first looted the bodies, grabbing a pair of keys and some pocket change. They then checked out a strange depression in the side of the hill Gutch had spotted earlier. It appeared there was a solid structure under the earth and grass, but they decided to leave it for now. Their final destination was the top of the mound, what they correctly assumed to be the Gnoll camp.
Once there, they discovered a locked chest amongst the filthy furs and scraps of material which seemed for form bedding. Tesco attempted to open the chest with his looted key, and was rewarded with the satisfying thunk of a lock opening. Inside the chest was a great deal of mixed coinage, which they approximated at 2000 silver. They shared a look. That look said 'We earned this.' They quickly distributed the coins into four pouches 'evenly', with Milk and Pepper receiving 400 silver whilst the other two walked away with 600 each. That is, if Gutch hadn't scooped 10 silver from each pot without Tesco noticing. With their trustworthy distribution of wealth completed, they dragged the loot downhill to share their find with the group.
Besides this, nothing of note happened on their 'off-day' besides Tesco attempting to copy down another spell. Surprisingly, he managed this in only two days, giving the party time to recuperate and have a full spell selection for the crawl ahead. To add to this, Milk felt his connection to his deity grow stronger, infusing him with an extra spell a day. They sought out a sturdy branch to serve as a torch, and began their delve through the front entrance. Milk brought up the front, wielding torch and spear, followed closely by the inimitable Abraham Von Gutchensmark. Third was Tesco, carrying a mace looted from their erstwhile companions whilst Pepper defended the rear with shield and a similarly looted mace.
They came to the first T junction, surrounded by the old old stonework of the place. Milk stuck his head around to corner, fortuitously looking left first - this gave him enough time to move his head away from the swung blade! An ancient reinforced skeleton rattled to life, obviously prepared in a combat stance. Milk failed to strike back, and shuffled back into the opposite turning on the T junction. This freed up room for Gutch to take a swing with his 10 foot pole, attempting to smash the undead foe into the wall. Sadly, his clumsy improvised weapon was blocked by the iron-bound dead. Tesco rolled into position under the swung pole, swinging for the legs with his mace. This both damaged and tripped the skeleton, leading directly to Pepper finishing the beast with a full-plate axe-kick.
Certain that they would face traps and enemies at this point, our party began the tried and tested method of tapping EVERYTHING with a long implement. The right hand turn led to another turn to their left, which featured a small set of stairs leading to a longer passage, broken by a doorway or turn about half-way down. Moving slowly down the stairs, Milk activated a pressure-plate with his spear. The tell-tale click of a mechanism was all the group needed- the front two members leapt back, crushing Tesco between their combined weight and the full-plated figure of Pepper. A ludicrous saw blade flashed before them, perfectly positioned to eviscerate a less-wise adventurer. Milk laid out a scrap of fabric to mark the trapped plate, and the party cautiously advanced into the passage.
The depression on the left side revealed itself to indeed be a doorway. The stone door was left slightly open - just enough to reveal a tiny slit of the room inside. Our brave adventurers argued over what to do at this before a plan was reached - Pepper pushed the door open. A blinding flash filled the underground space, blinding Milk for a good 20 seconds whilst the rest simply lost their limited night adaptation. Sight slowly restored, they found an empty room. Tesco told you so.
This distraction complete, they made the decision to move on, advancing as before. They met yet another T junction, although this one was lacking in skeletal foes. Instead, they saw a small font atop a dais to their right, and a passage to their left. Tesco set about inspecting this font, noting several things about it - there was no drainage, and a small metal tube set into the wall. Milk resolved to test the steps of the dais. The first step - nothing. The second step - a spray of black liquid spewed forth from the font, which ignited on the torch, the resulting detonation causing damage group-wide, knocking them all flat and extinguishing their source of light. Milk yelled about being struck blind whilst Tesco fumbled for his hooded lantern. The self-lighting mechanism saved them from a grisly, oily but mostly scorchingly hot death. Using this light source, they carefully picked their way out of the mound, resolving to give it another day perhaps.
James had several oily sets of clothes thrown at him as Gutch changed into a fresh set. Once again, another day and night passed without event. Whilst the morning was fresh, the group set once more into the unchanged-tomb, quickly reaching the point they had achieved before. They now investigated the newly found passage, which ended in a set of stair spiralling down and to the right. Moving down cautiously, they noted how the passage opened up, allowing for them to stand two-abreast, but also allowing for the use of larger weapons. At the foot of the stairs was an immediate doorway to the left, whilst the main passage continued forwards. Once again, Milk had a peek around the corner. He was met with the sight of no less than a dozen skeletons, clad in chain and armed with magnificent greatswords. As he ducked back round to inform his party, they audibly snapped for face him. Milk and Pepper formed a shield wall at the base of the stairs, allowing Gutch and Tesco to fight over the top of them. By the time this was set up, the terrible creatures were upon them. Wave after wave beat themselves against the defensive wall, until a single blow was landed on Pepper.
Once of the long-dead marched towards Pepper, as the previous three had. Rather than swing at him mindlessly, something possessed this one to strike over the top of the shield, punching straight through the plate armour. The blade was driven through his insides, unwinding his innards and punching out the other side. Pepper collapsed, seemingly mortally injured. Milk leapt over, and spoke his healing words quickly, snatching Pepper back from the brink of death. He stood back up, and fought with redoubled vigour. After this point, they were fighting a winning battle, and made work of the remaining foes without incident, though they were all thoroughly exhausted by the number of opponents.