The Dragonbusters little knew what awaited them in the catacombs leading to the city of Dunholme. Certainly, they expected some sort of undead critters to get in their way, but with a Cleric of Lathander, a Paladin of Torm, and a Ranger of Mielikki with special training against undead, they were understandably confident. Indeed, as they breached the tomb of the last high priest, they encountered a group of pathetic mummies that crumbled beneath their might. As they entered into the large central chamber of the catacombs, they were riding high.
An evil laugh greeted them. The evil laugh of an Antipaladin! He and his drow followers mocked the Dragonbusters for believing that the evil necromancer Cordalaya would not have watched all approaches. His arrogance must have masked an underlying sense of inadequacy, however, as he was easily offended by Gargantuon’s insulting armor. All strategy flew away as he rushed the half-orc barbarian.
The rest of the Busters had to deal with several drow archers and a nasty drow wizard, all as they navigated around a lethal spinning blade trap known as the Boneslicer. In typical drow fashion, however, their disregard for each other would be their undoing. The wizard laid down area spells that hindered his allies along with the Busters, and allowed the adventurers to eventually gain the upper hand. Gargantuon and Zephus defeated the Antipaladin, causing him to topple out of his oversized boots and into the Boneslicer!
The cowardly wizard, seeing he was the last of his troupe, cackled madly and teleported away. After swearing vengeance the Dragonbusters searched the nearby chambers.
Gargantuon and Zephus explored a seemingly empty chamber, but their curiosity nearly ended them. Foiling an illusionary pit, they boldly walked into the room…only to find themselves falling into the real pit! Initially thankful for the soft landing, when they realized they had landed on a giant Gelatinous Cube they made haste to climb out. Less weighed down by armor, Gargantuon hauled himself out of the pit first and reached down to lift his friend out after him. Had they been less nimble, they may have ended up being slowly digested over a thousand years!
Meanwhile, Elsbeth, Kiba, and Dave explored a different chamber. This one had a pedestal in the center, and two desiccated husks in the far corners. Reading the book that was on the pedestal provided some insight into the final days of the High Priest, where he had apparently helped fight off an army of drow and demons. However, the fight had alerted a pair of Bebiliths who had come to feast on the demons. The Priest had defeated them, but the unexpected arrival of two Ingersols made things much worse. They inhabited the corpses of the Bebiliths, turning them into undead monstrosities! Luckily the priest was amply prepared to handle undead, and drove the Ingersols away. He then sealed the Bebiliths in the catacombs so they would not be inhabited again.
Armed with this new knowledge, the Ranger and the Cleric made to leave the chamber. The door slammed shut in front of them, and two ghostly, glowing figures floated into the room through the back wall. Ingersols! They fused with the Beblith corpses, rising again as giant spider-like beasts. Kiba suppressed his arachnophobia just long enough to assist Elsbeth with exterminating the undead demons before he fell unconscious from fright. Dave escorted his master back to the nearby forest while the rest of the group went into the final chamber.
Here they found a dragon mural on the wall, several display cases, and a strange wireframe sculpture in the center of the room. After finding a pair of wings on an antique drinking vessel that clearly didn’t belong, the three Busters deduced that the wireframe was actually the skeleton of a dragon statue! They affixed the wings to the frame and saw the dragon mural glow, and a line from a verse appeared in fancy draconic letters. Smashing everything in the room looking for more pieces, Elsbeth and Gargantuon located the dragon’s torso. Zephus found the head hiding in a painting of Tiamat. Finally they discovered the tail masquerading as a branch on a potted plant. With the full statue completed, they had the entire rhyme, which seemed to be about an undead dragon. With one last act of vandalism, they knocked over the statue, revealing a star shaped gem.
This gem fit into the pedestal out in the central chamber, and upon turning it, the Boneslicer ceased spinning and turned into a spiral staircase! A touch apprehensive, the Dragonbusters descended the stairs. They found themselves in a dark chamber with a floor of loose bones. Elsbeth enacted a light spell, and they saw several exits to the large room. One was protected by a force field, while four others led into stone corridors.
In each corridor they found a trap and a switch. Gargantuon and Zephus had mixed success trying to dodge their traps, while Elsbeth simply used a pair of Spider Slippers she had taken from one of the drow they had defeated earlier to bypass the traps. Once they had thrown all four switches in a timely manner, they made to return to the central room. Elsbeth, however, clumsily disturbed some fungus and inhaled their spores, momentarily becoming confused. Luckily Zephus knew well the signs of confusion and quickly removed the effect with the help of his holy sword.
Now all together in the head, Elsbeth and the group looked to see what the effects of the switches had been. Indeed they had lowered the force field on the exit, but also on a small alcove housing two treasure chests. They decided to investigate the chests first, but as they touched one the entire chamber rumbled! A gigantic form rose up out of the bones: a Ravener! The undead dragon politely asked the group of their purpose, but had no intent of letting them leave alive. Fight!
The battle began poorly for the adventurers, with the dragon unleashing its horrible frigid breath upon them. Elsbeth evened the score by blinding the Ravener with light! It might not have been able to see them any longer, but the Ravener could still smell them! It utilized its superior reach and magic to keep them on their toes, nearly felling the party numerous times, but their healing abilities kept them in the fight. Just as they thought they were gaining the upper hand, previously innocuous statues shattered and revealed undead giants underneath!
Working furiously to destroy the dragon before its allies could close the gap, Elsbeth, Gargantuon, and Zephus formed a defensive line at the entrance to the treasure alcove. Through their might of arms and with a little help from Lathander, they managed to down the undead beast and even blind most of the approaching giants to boot! But the day was not yet theirs.
Seized by a holy fury after seeing the blasphemous Ravener fall, Zephus charged the nearby skeleton. Ignoring the cries of ‘stick with the plan!’ from the cleric, he delivered a mighty blow to the undead giant. But it was not enough to destroy the skeleton, and even while blind the monster was far from helpless. It connected with two boneshattering hits with its massive greatsword, and the Paladin crumpled.
Not to be dismayed by the defeat of their comrade, Gargantuon and Elsbeth worked together to clear the battlefield of foes. Once the final skeleton had fallen, Elsbeth made her way to her fallen friend. Taking the opportunity, she slapped the still warm corpse, as if to say ‘what an idiot’. Then she kindly used her Staff of Resurrection to return Zephus to Toril. “I told you to stick to the plan!” She chided him. Zephus, too bewildered from his recent death, merely stumbled along into the final chamber, where a hatch in the ceiling above would lead to Cordalaya’s tower. The group decided to rest and allow Kiba and Dave to catch up with them, not knowing what manner of foe lay ahead. If the Ravener was merely the warm up act, they had their work cut out for them…