After the destruction of the Vermin Temple and rescuing the abducted children from the the claws of the Vermin Cult, the PCs ascend from the dank environs of Nodensgate’s sewer-system and make their way back to the Headless Harpy Inn. Rollo, the innkeeper, warmly welcomes them back and prepares a handsome feast before they turn in for the night.

Nodensgate

The next morning the party was served a large breakfast before meeting with the agent from the Nodensgate Watch, Osmund Murks. They are told that while they were fighting the wererats and the BroodMother of the Vermin Cult below the city, the Watch was moving in on the cult leader and wealthy merchant, Nemmus Gorla. Unfortunately, Gorla managed to escape from the city before he could be apprehended.

Murks thanked the party for all that they had done, paid them their reward, and promised them in the name of the Watch Commander, Jonas Hurst, that they were always welcome in Nodensgate and would have the full protection of the Watch. The PCs thanked Rollo for his hospitality and made their way to the House of Tranquility to meet with the wizard, Emeric the Silent.

Emeric used his powerful magics to send the party across time and space, safely returning them in an instant to the tower of Symond the Sorcerer in Croakmire, many leagues away. Symond, as always, greeted them in his odd manner and began to inform them of all that had transpired in the the town since their departure weeks before. The party learned that the Lord of Croakmire, Baron Edgard Scathwyn, had fallen ill and was in a comatose state. Meanwhile, his troublesome son, Holt Scathwyn, was ruling in his father’s stead with the aid of their castellan, Ollis Blackfell, member of the infamous Blackfell family of Nodensgate.

Croakmire Town

Symond went on to explain that there was now another adventuring group active in town who seem to have appeared right around the time that the Baron fell ill. This mysterious group allegedly destroyed the only known entrance to the Barrowmaze used by our player characters, meaning that they needed to find another way to access the dungeon. It was Symond’s opinion that this other adventuring party was also out to find the fabled Rune Tablet. Symond recommended that the player characters return to the Brazen Strumpet Tavern and speak to the proprietor, Bollo.

The party was greeted by Bollo who plied them with drink while answering their questions about what he knew about the recent events in and around Croakmire. When the subject of Alastar came up, Bollo explained that if they wanted to speak with the hopelessly insane Alastar, they had the chance the next night to do so as his sanity temporarily returned for a few hours during the night of a full moon. They rested up that night in their cottage known as “Strumpet Manor” located behind the tavern and awaited Alastar.

The Brazen Strumpet Tavern

The night of the full moon arrived and Bollo brought Alastar to Strumpet Manor. Somewhat lucid, Alastar told the party the story about how he was a powefrul mage who along with Bollo and Bollo’s youngest brother, Bram, were part of an adventuring party exploring the Barrowmaze before being attacked and most of the party killed except for Bollo, who escaped, and Bram and Alastar being taken captive. Alastar also eventually escaped, but not with his mind intact. However, before the adventuring group was destroyed, they had been using Strumpet Manor as a safe place to store their loot and were using a secret subterranean tunnel and cave system to move back and forth from the Barrowmaze. The tunnel entrance was located in the cellar of the cottage, but was sealed with a magical ward that could be disabled only using the Lich Tongue, an esoteric language used to speak with the dead and other underworld beings. Luckily for the party, Alastar had a magical amulet that he gave to the characters and would allow them to understand and speak the Lich Tongue once per day.

Using the amulet and the secret passphrase, the party dissolved the magical ward and traveled through the tunnels and caves for many miles until they reached another tunnel cut deep with a high-ceiling into black Woldstone and ending at a black iron door etched with eldritch symbols. The ground near the door was littered with bone and metal debris, ostensibly left from the massacre of Alastar’s party. Just as the player characters shown a light up into the darkness above them they were attacked by two horrific Ghoul Skulkers.

Ghoul Skulkers

The battle was short and bloody with the party wholly defeating the creatures with fire and steel. Now they stand before the black iron door and prepare themselves to enter once more into the shadowy confines of the Barrowmaze.