Editor’s note: Feel free to add commentary in here, but please do not erase or delete existing text. Add comments in italics, beginning and ending with “[” and “]”, and follow the initial [ with your character name and “:”
The Greenbelt Defenders watched in disbelief as the undead monster disappeared into the hole in the floor. While Magda comforted Danell, the party had a quick meeting and came up with a strategy for hunting down the horrid ghouls (for Tad, with his religious training in his monastery, confirmed that they were, indeed, ghouls): First, Tad would take Trixie, and using their darkvision, they would pursue the ghoul that grabbed Danell. Toboe would head down the same hole, but search the tunnel in the opposite direction as Tad and Trixie. Vincze and Jane, meanwhile, would guard the hole where the ghoul had just escaped, and Khrystos would watch the middens “sinkhole” where Magda’s husband had been dragged just a short time ago. Magda and Danell were hurried up onto the Trading Post walls and guarded by Keston Garess and his men.
Before the party split up, Vincze cast Mage Armor on Tad; Khrystos cast Mage Armor on Toboe, and gave his Wand of Magic Missiles to Vincze; and Jane cast Light on Toboe’s armor. Tad then warned everyone of a ghoul’s frightening ability to paralyze with scratches from their claws—and the fact that a person injured or killed by a ghoul has a high probability of becoming a ghoul themselves! Khrystos quickly went and checked where they’d left Magda’s husband’s body in the yard, and they were all relieved to hear that the body hadn’t been moved.
Tad and Trixie crawled through the tunnel after the ghoul who attacked Danell. Toboe headed into the same tunnel, but in the opposite direction as Tad and Trixie. Jane, meanwhile, cast Cure Light Wounds on Danell and restored his health.
Toboe soon discovered, to his surprise, that his part of the tunnel ended abruptly in a somber scene: a large cavern filled with human remains. Tad, meanwhile, reached the “middens”, where Khrystos was standing guard; Khrystos let the girls know of Tad’s whereabouts. After a short detour into a side-tunnel which led beneath the stables, Tad found himself followed by a ghoul (Trixie’s panic alerted him), sneaking up behind him. The rabbit-familiar lent her Diviner’s Fortune to the monk, helping him to rapidly dispense the foul creature with a “Flurry of Blows” delivered with his strong half-orc feet.
Meanwhile, above-ground, another ghoul clambered out of the middens and started straight towards Khrystos! The sorcerer yelled out in terror, prompting Jane to run to the window of the building she was in and land a well-placed arrow into its putrid, rotting flesh. Just then, Vincze—who was already heading to the middens as a result of being alerted by Trixie’s panicked emotional state—let loose a Magic Missile, which put an end to the undead being.
Desperate to reach Tad & Trixie, Vincze descended into the middens and tried to crawl down the tunnel towards them. This proved to be slow-going, however, so she read her Scroll of Reduce Person. At the same time, Trixie alerted Tad to another ghoul, headed straight towards them. Tad let loose with some martial-arts moves, again aided by Trixie’s Diviner’s Fortune. The ghoul, however, kept coming, clawing at the monk’s face and paralyzing him. Just then, the newly reduced Vincze reached Tad and—remembering the wand that Khrystos had lent her—finished off the ghoul with a wand-produced Magic Missile. Vincze pushed aside the defeated ghoul, scooped up Trixie, and (seeing that Tad was overcoming his paralysis) headed back towards the middens. After shaking off the ghoul’s poison, Tad continued down the tunnel, away from the middens and (from what Tad could deduce) out of Oleg’s Trading Post altogether.
Toboe, meanwhile, having been summoned back by Jane, was now exploring the last remaining tunnel: the one leading from the middens, from which a ghoul reached out and scratched Khrystos at the end of last episode. From what Jane could surmise from their empathic link, Toboe soon reached some sort of barrier and seemed confused. Unsuccessful in his attempt to climb over the barrier, the wolf turned back to the middens.
All this time, above-ground, Khrystos was watching intently as Skyduster circled the Trading Post, searching for any additional ghoul-holes from the air. (Luckily, it was a clear night, and the moon was nearly full). After a few minutes: Success!—his keen owl-eyes spotted a hole right in the middle of the field that Oleg Leveton and Tad had recently been plowing. Khrystos quickly alerted Jane and Keston, and then he & Jane headed out the main gate and into the field. Jane, with her low-light elven vision, descended into the hole and crawled along (there were two directions in this tunnel; she followed her instincts and headed away from the Trading Post). After a short time she reached a point where the tunnel opened up a bit, and she was faced with a steep slope that seemed to go up about 30 feet. This made absolutely no sense at all to Jane, since she couldn’t have been more than 5 feet underground! But with a successful Will save, she managed to keep her wits about her and return to the field to give Khrystos the news. A few minutes later, Tad appeared in the tunnel—crawling steadily forward with his monk’s nimbleness, he had indeed left the Trading Post and was now standing in the middle of the field with Khrystos and Jane. Jane relayed what she had found to Tad, and Tad went to see for himself. Easily climbing the 30-foot slope, he heard a woman’s voice coming from the darkness at the top: “Has one of my children returned? What spoils do you have for me, my child?” Could he have found the ghoul’s lair?—Who was this woman? Tad quickly climbed back down to get reinforcements.
Vincze meanwhile discovered Toboe, confused in the middens, staring down the tunnel he had just explored. Curious, she and Trixie headed down the tunnel. She convinced Toboe to follow them. She saw what had confounded the wolf: a tunnel ascending about 50 feet up! Try as she might, Vincze failed her Will save and stood transfixed, temporarily losing two Wisdom points as her mind attempted to grasp the situation. Finally, she was able to compose herself, and she, Trixie and Toboe tried climbing up the slope. Trixie made it to the top first, but didn’t find anything—all Vincze received was a feeling of “suspense” and curiosity from the rabbit. Vincze, still at the bottom of the slope after failing her Climb roll, sensed that her Reduce Person spell was about to end, and made haste to the middens, where she could safely assume her normal stature. At that point, Toboe nearly made it to the top of the slope, but failed his last Climb roll and fell 40 feet, landing on the dirt with a thud! Vincze quickly summoned Trixie back to the middens, and then waited as the seriously-injured wolf slunk his way back to them. After feeding Toboe one of her potions of Cure Light Wounds, she and Trixie climbed out of the middens. Then, after asking Keston where the others were, left the Trading Post and headed into the field to join them.
The Defenders discussed everything they’d seen. It appeared likely that Tad had indeed found the ghouls’ lair, and the voice he’d heard was the voice of their leader. The four entered the tunnels again, intent on reaching the ghoul’s leader and putting an end to the vile, undead infestation of their adopted home. All four reached the top of the slope: Tad first, Jane second, Vincze third and Khrystos last. They were greeted by that eerie, female voice once again! At the top of the slope was a short tunnel that opened (after a short 10-foot drop) into a cavern where Tad was the first to see their opponent: a statuesque female ghoul, dressed in tattered vestments, chanting away to herself… Vincze identified the spell she was casting was Protection from Good. Tad moved to engage the evil hag while his companions, one-by-one, dropped into the cavern. The foul Ghoul Queen reached out and with one finger, opened up a gaping hole in the half-orc’s chest! (was it a Cause Moderate Wounds spell?), and Tad realized that his martial arts moves (Flurry of Blows and Stunning Fist) would be ineffectual against this opponent. Jane fired an arrow at the hag but missed, while Vincze and Khrystos fired Magic Missiles at it, doing some serious damage to it. Next round, Tad switched to his commas[sic] [Chris – kamas], but failed to connect any of his blows against the monster! She began chanting again, and Tad found himself engulfed in flames! He felt his health rapidly fading away. Jane came to his rescue by conjuring a Flaming Sphere, rolling it at the Ghoul Queen, incinerating her in a puff of smoke. Thus fell the evil Ghoul Queen! Victorious, the Defenders searched the ghouls’ lair and found a heap of treasure, including some magic items (detailed below).
Epilogue: Over the next few days, with the elven druid Jane at his side to comfort and heal him, the young boy Danell made a full recovery. Apparently, he had not contracted the dread disease which causes a slow, painful transformation from ‘living person’ to ‘undead ghoul’.
You find the following
27pp, 242gp, 134sp, 947cp, three magical potions, three magical scrolls, an uncut onyx, an uncut zircon, a saltwater pearl, a crystal skull, a polished darkwood kuksa (it’s a drinking cup), a silver comb with an ornate handle that looks like a tree branch, and a silver chalice carved with images of faeries frolicking.