Alone in the EXAMINATION ROOM of the TEMPLE OF WANJO, Lightfingers the Elf Rogue and Shelby the Rakshasa Sorcerer listened pensively as the deathknell tolled thirteen. Those in the LIBRARY also heard the bells toll, but only Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly and Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin had any indication what it truly meant. Both clerics felt a sickening sensation in their spirits that they only felt when they dealt with the dead who do not sleep. Lightfingers stared at the book the deathknell had sounded from and tossed it away in panic.
A thick mist lit with an unnatural green hue began filtering down from the hole in the ceiling where the GUARDROOM had once been. As it seeped down into the EXAMINATION ROOM in a parody of a waterfall, the rakshasa shrewdly made himself invisible. Unearthly, hollow voices emanated from the mists. Amid the shrieks, groans, chittering and warbles. The words of a familiar song, distorted and unsettling, could be heard from within the mists, but the words weren’t quite right.
"Our hero's here. Deddumlir.
Want those monsters dead? Wedd is dead.
Stand in fear. Deddumlir.
Put this whole quest to bed. Send in the Dedd!"
Lightfingers licked his lips and drew his dagger instinctively. He’d didn’t know much about the undead. He’d heard stories around the watchfires, but who knew how much of what was said was true? He did know they were scary, unnatural and prone to bite.
A figure emerged in the mangled doorway to the PRISON CELLS above. At first just a shadow within the glowing fog, it revealed itself by degrees to be a scarecrow. The scarecrow peered down upon the EXAMINATION ROOM, its head darting to look here and there with quick bird-like movements. Its movements were quick like an insect. Lightfingers realized that it was likely much faster than he was.
Spying the thief, the scarecrow coiled itself into a crouch and asked, “What have we here?”
The thief took a deep breath. “Hi. My name is Lightfingers,” he babbled. “I just kind of woke up here. Don’t know what I’m doing.”
The scarecrow leapt down from its perch with ease and landed on a stone examination table a mere ten feet from the thief. “Do you know who I am?”
Lightfingers licked his lips, realizing for the first time that the scarecrow had wicked sharp teeth. “Is it Joe… Bitin'”?
The scarecrow’s hollow gaze held his without humor. Suddenly, it clicked into place. Lightfingers remember the tales of powerful scarecrows called Harbingers who served as the mouthpieces of Thanatar, Lord of the Undead, former avatar of Shettebrek. Like Thanatar, the Harbingers were once servants of Shettebrek, god of fear, but they joined Thanatar when he made his bid for deity apart from his dread master. Most of the scarecrows’ abilities were still tied to fear, though they themselves weren’t afraid of anything; however, the biggest reason they were feared weren’t their own dread abilities: it was the fact that Harbingers usually showed up at the fore of large armies of the undead. Without another moment’s hesitation, Lightfingers fled. The scarecrow was genuinely surprised at the sudden move.
Lightfingers fled through the door and darted left toward the LIBRARY. Seeing Pigsnot the Elf Fighter in his way and having no time to slow down or explain, Lightfingers drew his dagger and sliced at Pigsnot to get him out of his path. Pigsnot avoided the attack and while he couldn’t understand the reason for the attack, neither was he willing to die. Pigsnot threw a hasty punch which was very impressive, but was enough to stop the attack.
At the end of the hallway, Nathan Garney witnessed this altercation with growing alarm, especially when he noticed a flowing green mist forming at the far end of the hallway, illuminating a flight of stairs leading up to the TEMPLE PRISONS. “Um, guys,” Nathan said. “I think we need to get out of here.”
The Thing in the Mists
He pointed at the glowing mists beyond them. Lightfingers barely registered that the entry to the EXAMINATION ROOM was now sealed up. His attention was on a figure emerging from the fog, a dwarf with glowing eyes.
Nathan immediately fled to the LIBRARY. Lightfingers and Pigsnot glanced at each other, came to an unspoken truce and ran after him. Seeing his comrades in the LIBRARY, Nathan shouted, “Run!”
Back in the hallway, Lightfingers tried to blend in with the shadows, hoping to hide, but the undead dwarf peered directly at him. The thief noted a giant shadowy presence behind the dwarf. As he was calculating his odds of survival, ghouls began bursting out of the mists. Lightfingers immediately resumed his retreat into the LIBRARY.
Acindor the Human Fighter, Nellson Williams the red Tiefling Artificer with a robotic left arm and his steel defender gorilla Cupcake, Eondul the Human Wizard, and Kudac were instantly alert, peering in the direction the cleric had come from.
“What are we up against?” Acindor asked.
“I think I know,” Kudac said. He’d received a vision from a magical book called The Tale of Acindor. In that book, he’d read the future. Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Shield Knight of Baldnoggin, recently fallen in a battle with the Red Circle in Obscurus‘ LIBRARY, had been a big part of Acindor’s journey. In fact, Acindor had agreed to become Hero‘s Champion in the imminent Gotternacht Games at the ROSE COLISEUM when Wedd broke his oath to the outsider god in order to become Baldnoggin’s Champion. In the future vision, Kudac had seen the poster of Baldnoggin’s Champion fall at the ROSE COLISEUM. An undead version of Weddumlir then appeared on the posters of Thanatar, announcing the Lord of the Undead’s new Champion as Deddumlir. Kudac had also read a passage where an army of the dead with glowing eyes marched out of the PRISONS in pursuit of Acindor and the others who desecrated the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION at SMUGGLER SPEAK.
Immediately after reading these words, Kudac received a vision from Baldnoggin of a god in chains. Baldnoggin spoke to him, his voice grim. “Wanjo. The TEMPLE OF WANJO is a god trap. I cannot intervene.”
As the vision ended, Kudac decided he’d had enough of this particular book. He asked Nell if Cupcake could sit on the tome to keep it shut. After quickly relating what he’d learned from both the book and the vision, Kudac and the others hastily explored the LIBRARY to get a lay of the land and any possible exits. They found a tall mirror to the south with writing that appeared to be some version of Celestial along the frame, but no one could read it.
An Infernal Aside
Back in the EXAMINATION ROOM, the scarecrow glanced at the stone wall that had replaced the open doorway to the east and then locked its gaze upon the invisible rakshasa. “Who are you?”
“Who are you to ask?”
“I know what you are.”
The rakshasa shrugged and then leaned toward the scarecrow. “So what game are we playing today?”
“Are you familiar with those who desecrated the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION at SMUGGLER SPEAK?” the scarecrow asked.
“I’m not familiar with this CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION,” the rakshasa replied.
“Yet the ones I speak of travel with you.”
“Let’s play a game with them, shall we?” Shelby offered.
“You think I’m foolish enough to agree to anything with your kind?”
“We’re not making any agreements. No agreements are necessary.”
The scarecrow stared at him implacably. “Those who desecrated our CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION are about to find out what happens to those who slight Thanatar.”
“Do as you will. They will miss me if I’m gone for long.”
“I will give you a head start as a professional courtesy.”
“As you wish,” Shelby said with a slight nod. He magically listened for the thoughts of the adventurers and then discovering that they were in the LIBRARY pondering a mirror with strange writing around the frame, he teleported away.
Shelby appeared near the mirror and quickly resumed his disguise as an elderly librarian. Casting a spell to understand the writing around the mirror, he discerned that it was a mirror that allowed one to see 60 seconds into the future. Looking into the mirror, he saw some of the adventurers gathered around the mirror while others remained in other parts of the LIBRARY. The ghostly green mist entered the room. When it touched the dead bodies of Katnip Everdeen and Bofril Greybender, they sprang to life as zombies. To complicate things further, ghouls leapt out of the mists. What happened next was a bloodbath. Those nearest the mists, Lightfingers, Pigsnot and Nathan Garney, felt the necrotic power of the unholy shroud hampering their wits and movement once it touched them. They were overwhelmed within thirty seconds. Once slain, they quickly rose again under the mists power to fight against their friends as zombies.
Shelby quickly relayed the mirror’s power and what dread and imminent portent it had shown him. “We need a way out of this place,” the old librarian added when he’d finished.
“Maybe the mist is flammable,” Eondul suggested. “Maybe we can destroy it with a fireball.”
“In a room full of flammable books?” Acindor asked. “Maybe something less likely to hurt the rest of us,” he suggested pointedly.
Nells cast grease into the doorway where the green mists were coming from. It also covered the body of Bofril Greybender.
Acindor recalled that to the west of the LIBRARY there was a STORAGE CLOSET. A tunnel had been dug into the back of the STORAGE ROOM that led into the WAR’TODE TUNNELS. At present, it appeared to be their only path to escape.
The green mist caught up to Lightfingers. Even in his terror, he managed to have the presence of mind to hold his breath as he dashed out of its influence. Startled by his sudden eruption from the mists, Eondul cast a fireball at him. Lightfingers dove to the floor and found himself sliding further into the LIBRARY upon the greased floor. The fireball singed his hair but he managed to get away as the grease was set afire behind him. They were dismayed to see that fire had no effect on the unholy green mist, though it did stop Bofril Greybender, who was being animated by the mists as the fireball hit, turning him into a funeral pyre.
Having had enough of the mists, Shelby cast a bit of wind at it, but the mists continued to creep forward as if there were no breeze at all. “We need to keep moving,” he urged.
“There’s a way out through the STORAGE ROOM,” Acindor announced. “A tunnel.”
Ghouls in the Library
A ghoul’s arm reached out of the mists and made a grab for Lightfingers but it immediately slipped and fell in the grease. Another ghoul came through and also found itself slipping and scrambling about. A third ghoul leapt over the others’ heads.
Enroute to the STORAGE ROOM, the old librarian quickly realized that they were about to experience a bottleneck in their escape plan at the STORAGE ROOM door that would leave them vulnerable to the ghouls. Shelby hastily cast a spell to seal off the doorway the mists and ghouls were coming through with stone; however, being unfamiliar with the LIBRARY, he didn’t realize the hallway he’d sealed off also connected to the LIBRARIAN’S OFFICE, a room directly to the north of the LIBRARY accessible through double doors which were flung wide open.
Nells commanded Cupcake to set up a defensive position between them and the ghouls one the right side of the library shelves. Nathan Garney took up a position further down the row on the left side of the bookshelves, hoping to cast turn undead on as many ghouls as possible. Running from the ghouls, Lightfingers and Pigsnot were in the way of his line of sight.
Dumplin Ages the Barabarian Halfling and her devil dogs unexpectedly arrived through the STORAGE ROOM door. Unaware of what was happening, she greeted a startled Kudac cheerfully. He nodded distractedly at her stream of consciousness. Her sudden appearance in the exit made the bottleneck at the exit worse.
One of the ghouls attacked Cupcake. The gorilla steel defender took slashing damage from the ghoul’s claws, but remained unmoved. Another ghoul attempted to attack Lightfingers but again slipped from the grease covering it and completely missed. Lightfingers took advantage of the ghoul’s prone position but the creature’s mad scrambling made it too difficult to effectively attack it. He opted instead to flee.
Eondul cast a firebolt at the ghoul nearest him, killing it.
Unnoticed by the adventurers, the undead forces had discovered the LIBRARIAN’S OFFICE through another hallway door and were prepared to send in another wave of ghouls.
Nellson aimed his crossbow at a ghoul, but it whizzed by the creature’s ear, missing it. Cupcake used his steel fists to crush another ghoul’s head in.
Kudac urgently but politely asked Dumplin to remove herself from the exit. She cheerfully leapt atop a death dog and bounded further into the LIBRARY. Moving quickly into the LIBRARY STORAGE ROOM, Kudac saw that it was a small room with a few supplies and an unopened chest. Rubble from a tunnel dug into the back of the room had been shoved off to the right side. The tunnel curved around to the left, but he could see a dim light shining from around the bend. He went down the tunnel apiece and confirmed that it led to a larger cave.
Shelby followed Kudac into the STORAGE ROOM and noticed the chest.
Meanwhile, Pigsnot asked Dumplin if she could use her death dogs to deal with the next wave of ghouls; however, she didn’t see any ghouls and told him so with a shrug. Perplexed at her ambivalence, Pigsnot decided to keep company with Nathan Garney in the south wing of the LIBRARY.
The mist crept forward from the LIBRARIAN’S OFFICE. Eondul and Lightfingers found themselves suddenly assaulted by ghouls. The ghoul attacking Eondul missed, being confounded by the raised platform upon which the body of Katnip Everdeen rested. Lightfingers was taken completely by surprise. The ghoul bit him hard. The thief swooned as the ghoul’s poison set in, threatening to paralyze him. He rallied, his adrenaline staving off the paralysis.
Eondul took the opportunity to flee toward the STORAGE ROOM. Nellson took a shot at a ghoul with his crossbow. The crossbow bolt ricocheted off a bookshelf and hit Nells instead! Cupcake made up for the miss by punching the same ghoul with its metal ape fist, squashing its head like an overripe cantaloupe.
Kudac ventured deeper into the cave he’d discovered and noticed a campfire that had been tended to recently but had been left smoldering. He could see no one else in the cave. he noticed a couple bedrolls, a weapons rack holding some crudely made spears, and two exits, leading away to the southeast and southwest, respectively. From the southeast, he heard the sound of voices indicative of a settlement of some sort.
Shelby cast knock on the chest. The incredibly loud magical knock sounded, audible from far beyond the LIBRARY STORAGE ROOM. It had no effect on the chest, but it draw the attention of the army of undead to their intended exit. Realizing the error he’d made out of greed, Shelby made his way into the tunnel at the back of the STORAGE ROOM.
Nathan Garney cast sacred flame at a ghoul. It hit the ghoul with such force that its head was knocked into another’s head, destroying both at once. Dumplin walked into the STORAGE ROOM with her dogs and noticed the chest. She immediately wondered if it contained something shiny.
Acindor also stuffed himself into the STORAGE ROOM. Seeing that the death dogs and the barbarian halfling had formed an roadblock, he turned around to defend the door. Pigsnot moved closer to the exit but was frustrated to find the door blocked.
Lightfingers once again found himself under attack by ghouls. As the ghoul clawed at him with its talons, he felt its poison seeping into his bones. He found himself truly paralyzed this time. Cupcake also found himself under attack, taking damage from the ghouls’ sharp claws.
At this point, Nathan Garney got a good look at the dwarven figure standing in the midst of the green fog in the LIBRARIAN’S OFFICE. He was horrified to realize that the undead figure sending ghouls against them was none other than their former comrade, Weddumlir Aleshield!
At this moment, Kudac noticed a dragonborn coming down out of the southeast tunnel into his cave. It was Nikolas the Brass Dragonborn. As Kudac turned back to rejoin the others, Nellson Williams passed by him to check out things for himself.