Three mercenaries-An Elven ranger suited for dungeon crawling; an Eladrin warmage; and a human warrior with a tactical eye-show up at the mouth of ancient Netheril (black elves that lived hundreds of years ago, but vanished mysteriously) ruins which intelligence suggests has been infested by undead. Each one has their own mission from a specific faction in the nearby city.
The instant they get inside, they are ambushed by zombies swarming into the room, and are forced to cooperate with each other to defeat them. When the swarms stop, they agree to stick together to head to the basement, where their missions lie. The warlord decides to stay in the room to heal his wounds.
When they get to the bottom, the unique architecture of the ancient ruins throws them off, but before they can figure out where they need to go, a Dragonborn with a large flail rushes down the stairs. Before they can discuss anything, they are swarmed by rats, some of which are obviously zombified. They fight the rats together out of necessity, and after the rat swarm dies down, they follow the source of the infestation through some pipe-shaped corridors and come across a wererat sorceress named J’Nah. They quickly dispatch of her and her minions, and, still wary of each others’ presence, the elf cuts off J’Nah’s head, and begins to walk away.
The others follow, wondering what he’s up to, and, through discussion realize that both Maelius, the warmage, and Cade, the ranger have been sent on the same mission by the same faction. After an argument emerges, they decide that they will split the money for the mission, and Bakok, the warrior abandons his quest to follow the others. On their way out, the human warlord they entered with is mysteriously missing from where they departed him. They continue anyways.
When they get to the city, another argument between Maelius and Cade leads to a separation of the group. Maelius and Bakok split the money that they received from a load of ancient Netheril books that Maelius was able to recover from the basement of the ruins, while Cade heads off to complete his contract with the Asagatong Assassin’s Guild alone.
While Cade is at the guild, he overhears a contract being discussed that would require at least three people, but could be worth a lot of money. He returns to the city to find Maelius and Bakok, and tells them about the opportunity. They decide to set aside their differences and return to the Asagatong guild to pick up this mission.
The contract stems from multiple reports of attacks from goblins and other barbaric creatures on The Great Road (the only travelable road from the elven city through The Great Forest and ending up at a mile-long bridge which is the only connection from the Elven continent to the island of The Feywild). The trio is sent to the source of the incursion to investigate and stop the attacks.
When the group gets to the reported area of the attacks, about ten miles into the forest on The Great Road, they find a small footpath leading into the forest. They follow it and come upon a series of clearings in the forest, swarming with goblins and undead, fighting together. They come across multiple magical doors, but discover that the secret to unlocking them is bringing specific keystones within proximity of the gates. They find five of these keystones in heavily guarded chests scattered through the clearings. After going through all the doors, they reach the center of the clearings, and find a large tree with a door in it, and are attacked by zombified hobgoblins.
After dispatching these beasts, they go through the door, and descend a ladder into a subterranean facility. After walking around, they discover a mining rail. Before they can investigate further, a horde of goblins runs in fear of something and run past the group, who is too slow to catch them. Instead of following them, they follow the railroad the opposite direction towards the source of the scare, and are attacked by a large group of undead goblins.
Continuing down the railway, they find the human warlord that they fought in the ruins with, tied up. They untie him on the condition that he helps them fight their way through the dungeon. They eventually find the end of the rail which stops in a large room with one narrow mining shaft straight ahead. Defending the shaft is a crazed hobgoblin and four orcs. The presence of orcs in the goblin hideout puzzles the group, but they don’t have enough time for questions, and defend themselves against the attackers.
They destroy all of them, but in the battle, Chris, the human, gets tackled by the hobgoblin and nearly choked to death. Things get worse when Bakok attempts to hit the hobgoblin off of Chris and ends up hitting both the hobgoblin and Chris, causing Chris to pass out.
After the fight Chris wakes up, but is in extreme pain. Cade helps him patch himself up enough, and they go through the narrow shaft.
The shaft is unstructured, and twists off in many directions. At a four-way juncture, they decide to split up, Cade and Maelius, and Chris and Bakok, in opposite directions.
Chris and Bakok go their way and find a shoddily-built barrier in their way about fifty feet down their shaft. Bakok takes a large swing and knocks down the barrier with his flail. They hear an enormous rumbling from down the shaft, and Maelius and Cade, only 100 feet down the other hallway, hear the rumbling, and turn around to help fight. Before they get there, though, from the darkness, a huge rock flies and hits Chris and Bakok, injuring them. They soon see the source of the assault, a rock monster who barely fits in the tunnels. Cade and Maelius quickly take a handle of the situation, and retreat back towards the juncture, where they figure they might be able to gain a tactical advantage, and to protect Chris and Bakok from sustaining more injury.
But instead of following them down the tunnel, they watch as the rock monster burrows into the side of the tunnel next to him. The group decides to run down the shaft and hope to lure the rock monster into the big room where they fought the orcs, in hopes that they might move the encounter to a larger area where they have space to fight the beast.
While they’re running down the shaft, however, the rock monster emerges from the wall of the tunnel, and resumes his assault. Seeing no other option, they decide to fight in the narrow tunnel. After all sustaining multiple wounds, they finally destroy the monster who crumbles into a pile of rocks, blocking them from going back out to the mines.
They go back to investigate where the rock monster came from, but only found a big room with lots of dead goblins. They go back to the four-way juncture and continue in Maelius and Cade’s direction.
The narrow shaft eventually opens up to structured stone corridors. Continuing, they find themself at a portcullis that is locked with heavy chain and padlock. But there are two ways that they can go. They decide to go to their right, and encounter an orc and a vampiric minion talking in an unrecognizable tongue. They try to sneak into the room, but the vampire hears and they both attack. After destroying the minions, they find a key on the vampire’s body, which they take with them.
Instead of immediately going through the portcullis, they investigate the other direction as well. They come across a goblin, and a cage with two crazed cave bears inside. The goblin, upon seeing the invaders, opens the cage and releases the bears. Chris runs ahead and tries to kill the goblin, but a bear pounces on him and wounds him. Bakok bravely jumps into the cage with the other bear, and attacks it, while Maelius and Cade are working on killing the bear on top of Chris before Chris is fatally wounded by the ravenous beast. Eventually, they kill all three assailants, but Chris is badly hurt. They take some time of rest in the room, and allow Chris to bandage himself, and then continue through the portcullis.
The portcullis takes them down a tunnel and into a big room, where a man in robes has an orc warrior kneeling in front of him. Neither of them pay attention to the invading group when they run in, but before the group can cross the room, the man in robes slits the orc’s throat and then retreats into a false wall. The group watches as dark shadows coalesce into a hideous-looking wraith, who begins attacking them.
Bakok, taking the lead begins to attack the shadow, but the wraith attacks him psychologically, causing him to attack Chris. Luckily, Chris ducks in the knick of time. The wraith, after messing with everybody’s head is finally destroyed, and on the orc’s body, they find a medallion with the symbol of The Raven Queen on it. They also noticed that the priest wore the same medallion. Maelius is concerned by the fact that these supposed followers of The Raven Queen-
who usually despises undead-are using undeath as a tool for their purposes.
They end up pushing the wall where the priest had done the same, and find that the wall easily slides. Behind the false wall, they find a magical portal. Cade ties himself to a rope and enters the portal stealthily. He finds himself in a much larger stone tunnel with large stone doors guarded by an orc. Cade tugs on his rope, signaling the others to come through, which they do. The orc attacks them, but they quickly destroy him.
Pushing open the stone doors, two orcs in dark robes with The Raven Queen medallion are standing by the door. The room is a large foyer for what looks like some kind of underground church.
The orcs ask how they got through the stone doors, and comment that they hadn’t heard of new recruits. Maelius makes up a story, and the orcs ask where Rufus was. Maelius tells them that they just talked to Rufus, who sent them in, but he had to check on some security issues elsewhere. The orcs seem to take the story, but insist that all initiates must don robes and go through the initiation ceremony.
They are handed robes and Raven Queen medallions and are led into another chamber, with an altar. Behind the altar is a priest with haunting facial deformities and two more orcs in robes. The group is instructed to stand in front of the altar, and they line up.
After some ceremonial words, and swearing their mortal and immortal life to The Raven Queen (Maelius is happy to do so, being a loyal follower of The Raven Queen; the others are wary of doing so, but bluff so as not to upset the ceremony), two more orcs bring in a tied-up, wounded paladin, and tie him to the altar, then stand in the back by the hallway. One of the orcs behind the altar gives Cade a ceremonial knife, and instructs him to make the sacrifice. Without a second thought, Cade slits the paladin’s throat.
The priest then tells Cade to make his own sacrifice now. He decides he’ll kill the orc in front of him instead, and stabs the orc with the knife. The priest yells, and the group is assaulted by all of the orcs in the room. When the battle breaks out, the priest uses the scepter he’s holding to turn the sacrificed paladin into a zombie, but before the zombie can even get up, Bakok slams him against the altar with his flail, and he is destroyed. After taking heavy damage from their attackers- especially the deformed priest-the group finally destroys all of them. Maelius blasts the priest with a flaming sphere, which makes him drop to the ground. The instant he hits the ground, though, he rises again as a zombie. Chris quickly strikes the zombie, and Cade picks him off from the other side of the room.
Exhausted, they investigate the bodies for more information about the cult’s activity and then head back through the stone doors and barricade them so that they can have some time to rest before they continue their trek through the church.
To be continued…