“Still no information in regards to the location of the haunted keep.”
Anika sipped her herbal tea. It was early morning in Red Larch. The Swinging Sword Inn was almost empty with most of the villagers out working in the fields or at the quarry. There were a couple of other tieflings in the inn, which was unusual in itself in a village this size. One was juggling daggers in prominent display by the fireplace, he looked to have some kind of instrument near him.
“Must be a travelling Bard, I should talk to him later he may of discovered something that may help finding the keep” Anika thought to herself.
The other tiefling was sitting at an empty table in the corner deep in thought. It seemed as if she might of had some trouble on the road, her metal armour had more than just road dust covering it. She was paying the Bard no mind while she dutifully cleaned her flail.
Just then the door to the inn opened. Not odd in itself but as Anika was near the windows she had not noticed anyone approaching. Anika glanced towards the door and the reason as to why was immediately apparent. A three foot gnome strolled in looking as chipper as a songbird.
“Must be another traveller. I haven’t seen any gnomes here yet.”
The gnome looked around the room, empty other then the three tieflings and Kaylesa the proprietor. She settled her gaze on the bard and marched up to him, ignoring the daggers he was juggling.
“Hey there, I’m Nyx. I don’t suppose you have seen an elf travelling through here recently? Really tall, pointy ears, long hair, may of looked like a tiger?”
The Bard chuckled.
“Alas I have not. However you should be most excited to learn that you have come across the legendary hero Art! I, who have beaten bandits single handed, rescued fair damsels in distress and battled a mud sorcerer and lived to tell the tale! Please, please no need for applause.”
“Ri-ight. Ok then. How about you?”
Anika thought for a moment, savouring the taste of the tea.
“Sorry no I haven’t. I have been asking around for a particular haunted keep, but I have not seen or heard of an Elf of that description. Oh, my name is Anika.”
Nyx sighs and pouts.
“I would be careful on those roads if you are looking to head out. The caravan I was with was attacked by riders on hippogriff on our way into town”
Anika turns to look at the tiefling as she lays her flail on the table.
“Dekkarian.” She nods in greeting.
“I couldn’t help overhearing, but I may be able to assist you fine folks.”
All four turn to look at Kaylesa, who had given up the pretence of cleaning the same section of the bar.
“Only thing is I want you to do me a favour. There is some strange happenings in the south west at Lance Rock. There is talk of some construction taking place there, a door in a wall apparently, not to mention that the wildlife in the area seems to be disappearing. Our constable, Harburk, while being a good man is much too focused on the town to go and see about it. A bit short sighted if you ask me but it is what it is I suppose.” She pauses, "In fact not too long ago we had an elf fellow matching that description saying that he was going to check it out, saying something about the natural balance being out of order. What was his name? I think it began with a v?
“Varis?” Nyx asks eagerly.
“Yes! I that was it. Varis. I haven’t seen him since though. Mind you I wouldn’t go alone if I were you, bound to be something dangerous there. I tell you what, you do this for me and I will make some enquiries and see if I can’t get the information that you are after. And just to sweeten the deal I will throw in a 50 gold if you sort it out.”
The three tieflings and the gnome travel across town to the Red Larch bath house.
“There is someone here who may be able to give us more information” Nyx tells the group.
They open the door and enter. Inside mannequins stand against the wall in various states of dress. Dekkarian takes a closer look at one of the dresses, with what appears to be an almost wistful look on her face. The owner of the bath house is sitting behind a counter, sewing what appears to be a tunic.
“Come in, come in. I’ll be with you in just a moment.”
She pins the fabric together and places it to one side.
“Now what can I do for you?”
Before Nyx can speak Art interrupts.
“My fair woman, we were told that you may have some interesting information that could be useful to us. We would appreciate it if you would be willing to divulge the particulars.”
“Me? I’m just a simple bath house operator and seamstress good sir. What could I possibly know?”
Nyx frowns at Art and pushes him to one side. She makes a nondescript gesture.
“I think you know what I mean.”
The woman’s eyes widen slightly and she nods.
“Ah yes I see. Of course. I am Haeleeya, how can I help you?”
“We are looking for information in regards to Lance Rock and my mentor Varis.”
“Varis was here, but he did not stay long, just enough to drop off some… Correspondence. He too was going to Lance Rock. The journey is about two days on foot. The wildlife in the area has been reported to be declining, I assume that’s your purpose there. There doesn’t seem to be any particularly unusual predators in the area. Other than that not much else I can say.”
“There has also been attacks by hippogriff raiders, and a mud sorcerer have you heard anything about that?”
“I know there are some hippogriff riders around, but this is the first I have heard of any attacks. In regards to the sorcerer, no, nothing that I know of either.”
Anika speaks up.
“How about a madman in a haunted keep?”
“Well there some castles around in the Sumberhills, but I haven’t heard of any madmen. I will keep my ear out for you though.”
Nyx thanked Haeleeya, and the the four set off for their journey to Lance rock.
The journey to Lance Rock is uneventful and the group makes good time. Along the way they discuss their abilities. Dekkarian a war priest who worships a God of thunder, though she does not reveal their name and the group does not press her. Art with some minor ability in magic through bardic arts and skill with a rapier and throwing daggers. Anika turns out to be a spell caster of the dark arts who reveals that she had is searching for a lost relic of her order, though she doesn’t give any particulars when pressed. And Nyx who is a Druid with the ability to shift into animals and command the elements to some degree.
Soon the Rock looms above them, jutting out forming a natural cover. A narrow ravine leads down to the base of the rock at a steep angle littered with granite and limestone rock formations. Approaching the base they see a natural cave in front of them. There is a sign in front of the cave which reads;
“Come no closer lest you catch the disfiguring plague that afflicts me – The Lord of Lance Rock.”
Ignoring the sign the group enters the cave where a second sign read the same. Art gives it a solid kick and it spins around and falls to the ground. Scrawled on the back in white chalk are the words “Necromancer’s Cave”. Looking ahead further into the cave the see a body lying on the ground.
“I’ve a bad feeling about this, something isn’t right.” Anika says as she hangs back.
“It’s fine. Look. Your dead aren’t you?” Art pokes the corpse with his rapier.
With a moan the corpse rises to its feet and takes a swing at Art.
The group quickly descends upon the zombie and finishes it off.
“We should be careful, there are bound to be more undead here.” Anika states.