Rise of the Runelords

The Desecrated Vault

Sheriff Hemlock requests the party investigate possible vandalism at the Boneyard

The chapel of Concordance Hall was consecrated early the next morning in a much more subdued indoor ceremony. The Haeralm contingent from Magnimar departed soon afterwards, taking the remains of the slain priest and guards with them. Izukdul Shadowaxe, a hobgoblin lieutenant of the Crimson Star, remained behind with a handful of soldiers, tasked with keeping a watchful eye on the town for signs of heresy and sedition.

The Sheriff’s Request

Not long after the Haeralm contingent departed, Sheriff Belor Hemlock entered the Rusty Dragon where the four new friends were nursing their hangovers. He approached the group and asked in a hushed tone if they could assist him with a task. Intrigued, the four agreed and grabbed their gear before joining him. As the sheriff led the group to the Sandpoint Boneyard, he first thanked them for their aid during the goblin assault and then explained the nature of his request – the Boneyard caretaker, Naffer Vosk, had discovered the stone door to a burial vault ajar earlier that morning. Sheriff Hemlock didn’t expect much,

“Worst case, once of those damn goblins got himself trapped inside.”

Still, the vault in question was the one reserved for former caretakers, priests, and acolytes of the Haeralm. This made Father Zantus anxious for the matter be handled without the hobgoblin, Izukdul’s, involvement.

As they walked from the Rusty Dragon to the Boneyard, the sheriff also tried to get to know a bit about Shar’el’s new comrades, asking them from where they hailed, what had brought them to Sandpoint, and what plans, if any, they had for the future. Although small talk was not his strong suite, Belor managed to come across as genuinely interested, rather than interrogating. Upon reaching the Boneyard, the group was immediately met by the caretaker, Naffer Vosk, who expressed his displeasure with the sheriff’s plan.

“That vault should be inspected by the Crimson Star, not some band of mercenaries!”

Sheriff Hemlock cooly informed Vosk that Father Zantus had decided this was a matter for the garrison, not the Crimson Star, but he would be joining the priest and hobgoblin lieutenant shortly. As for the four heroes,

“I have deputized Shar’el and her comrades. In this matter they represent me, and you will not interfere with their task!”

Grumbling, Naffer hobbled away and Sheriff Hemlock took his leave. As the party approached the vault, they could clearly see the surrounding grounds churned from recent activity and its stone door slightly ajar. Shar’el identified signs of goblin tracks, guessing half a dozen, along with a single larger set of boot tracks. Although it was apparent the tracks led both in and out of the stone door, she lost the trail not far from the vault. Walking to the stone door, Craiuk grunted,

“Well no use putting this off. Let me make sure these goblins haven’t left us any nasty surprises.”

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Investigating the Vault

A quick inspection convinced the dwarf that the vault was safe to enter. The main chamber was dark but empty. Merrik cast a light spell on the top of his quarterstaff before the foursome proceeded down the stairs into the main crypt, the dwarf in front keeping a wary eye out for traps. The bottom of the stairs opened into a large burial chamber. As Craiuk stepped into the chamber, a pair of human skeletons wielding ancient scimitars lurched from the shadows and attacked.

Desecrated vault skeleton

At the dwarf’s first shout of alarm, Shar’el leapt past him into the chamber. Stabbing at the nearest skeleton, her short sword unfortunately got caught between its ribs and was wrenched from her grasp as skeleton struck back, badly slicing her now empty sword arm. Merrik blasted the other skeleton that was closing on the dwarf with a magic missile. Undeterred, the skeleton slashed at the dwarf, but Craiuk dodged its swing and countered with a blow from his waraxe. Stepping into the chamber, Tenauc pulled out her holy symbol and called out to Gorum. A wave of divine energy unleashed from her, destroying one skeleton and badly damaging the other. As Shar’el, now on the defensive, dodged the skeleton’s scimitar swings, Merrik charged to her aid and smashed it with a blow from his quarterstaff.

Desecrated vault sarcophagus

Craiuk and Merrik investigated the vault while Tenauc healed Shar’el’s wounded arm. The dwarf found a discarded black robe with some torn stitching, like patches had been pulled off. He tucked the robe away for a more thorough study later. More importantly, Merrik discovered that one of the sarcophagi was open and empty. Shar’el immediately recognized the name on the sarcophagus, Ezakien Tobyn, as Father Zantus’ predecessor who was killed in the Great Fire. Why the priest’s remains were taken remained a mystery, but the party realized that the evidence of the desecration needed to be hidden or Sandpoint would risk a “cleansing” by the Haeralm.

After dumping the destroyed skeletons into the sarcophagus and closing the lid, the four adventurers returned to the Boneyard. Merrik managed to mollify the cantankerous caretaker and allayed his concerns of any mischief in the vault. The group then proceeded into Concordance Hall to give their report to Sheriff Hemlock and Father Zantus, where they encountered Izukdul having just departed his meeting with the sheriff and priest. He pushed passed the party sneering,

“Deputies, bah! Mercenary trash more like it.”

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A Revelation

Ignoring the jibe, the party continued, Father Zantus ushered the party into his office where Sheriff Hemlock was already seated. After listening intently to the group’s report, both were very disturbed at the desecration and impressed upon the group the need to keep it under wraps. Father Zantus concurred with Tenauc’s assessment that the skeletons encountered were placed there and not animated from remains. As to Father Tobyn’s stolen remains, everyone was puzzled, but Father Zantus was especially concerned, stating,

“I now fear the goblin raid was merely a distraction for this theft, but for what sinister purpose I’m afraid that I haven’t a clue.”

Sheriff Hemlock thanked the group for their assistance in the matter, but as everyone prepared to leave, Father Zantus requested that Tenauc remain behind for a private discussion. Alone, he first thanked the half-orc for healing him at the Jubilee, but then questioned what diety she worships because she was obviously no cleric of Ogard. When Tenauc attempted to evade the question, he smiled and asked her to follow him to the Reflection Garden. The garden area was empty, and the priest turned to Tenauc,

“Concordance Hall is far more than what has been shared with the Haeralm, or the townsfolk for that matter. Reach out with your divine energy, and its secrets may be revealed.”

Upon doing so a hidden emblem of Gorum glowed warmly, much to her surprise. Father Zantus then reached out himself revealing that he was not truly devoted to Ogard, but rather the ancient diety travelers and dreams, Desna.

“Although the old gods have been forgotten and abandoned by many of the peoples of these lands, their power endures. I am part of the Iskadurn Disciples, a group committed to restore their teachings and worship. Our numbers are few, but growing. I would be honored to welcome you, a chosen of Gorum, into our brethren if you are willing to help our cause.”

Tenauc accepted the priest’s offer of working together; she posing as a temple guard, while secretly studying the abandoned gods.

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