Five strangers arrive in the town of Ravenhill to attend the funeral of their good friend, Professor Jago Elias. The strangers consist of Nabila, a mysterious cleric; Blondie, a dwarven bounty hunter whose true name is unknown; Sindra, a drow elf wild mage; Ohda, an outcast warrior from distant lands; and Izzy, a one eyed halfling thief.
The strangers are greeted by Corben, the son of Professor Elias. Corben thanks everyone for coming and asks if the party would mind terribly being pallbearers. The professor’s funeral seems to have a low turnout of guests.
The party is stopped halfway down the path to the gravesite by Gibbs, an ugly, toothless farmer – along with a rabble of agitated villagers. The rabble is convinced that the professor was a necromancer. “We don’t want old Elias buried here in the Restlands,” Gibbs says. “Take ‘im out to the bay and bury ’im at sea if ya like. But we ain’t ’avin no necromancer buried in the same place as our kin.”
This doesn’t sit well with Corben or the party. Blondie tries to parley with Gibbs, but never being much of a diplomat, his attempt to soothe the rabble only incites them, and a fight breaks out. The fight is very one-sided, the angry villagers armed only with torches and pitchforks are completely outmatched by a fully equipped group of adventurers. Nabila uses a pair of Command spells to tell two of the villagers to leave immediately. Sindra uses Burning Hands on one, which causes him to instantly surrender. Meanwhile, Ohda decapitates a hapless villager, causing the others to turn and run for the hills.
The funeral then proceeds uninterrupted, though the local priest, Father Isembard, is quite disturbed to learn that some of the villagers are worked up enough to try and prevent the professor’s funeral. Isembard hints that the past couple of weeks have been a trying time for Ravenhill.
After the funeral, Corben invites the party back to his family home. Those present have apparently been named in the professor’s will. The party convenes in the drawing room of the Elias place and tentatively introduces themselves to one another while Corben serves them tea and coffee. (With some opening up about their pasts more than others).
Councilman Ombrecht arrives an hour later to officially read the professor’s will. Professor Elias leaves his home and the majority of his belongings to his son. However, a small trunk filled with tomes of an esoteric variety are willed to the PC’s, to be delivered to the University of Amaranth no sooner than 30 days after the reading of the will. A secondary provision of the will is for the party to stay in Ravenhill and look after young Corben for a short time. For their services, the party will be rewarded with 100 platinum Drakes each from the professor’s savings.
Corben fetches the chest of books for the PC’s, and after a short debate over whether or not the professor intended for the chest to be opened or not, the party ultimately decides to open it, to at least ascertain that the contents are correct. They find several tomes dedicated to the esoteric and supernatural, in addition to the professor’s personal journal. Sindra reads the journal aloud to the group, recounting some of the professor’s experiences with the abandoned Harrowstone prison located just outside Ravenhill and a run-in with a cult known as the Whispering Way. Both Nabila and Sindra, having a little knowledge of the ‘darker’ side of things, have heard some vague tales of the Way and their necromantic habits. The journal also mentions a cache of ‘tools’ hidden in a particular crypt in the town cemetery.
After resting at the Elias estate for the night, the party heads back to the Restlands cemetery to check out the crypt. Finding the lock already broken, the PC’s slip inside and discover every tomb niche is empty. They find their way towards a large sarcophagus at the rear of the crypt. Within is a stockpile of items that could be useful in combating the undead – silver arrows, holy water, healing potions, magical scrolls, and a spirit board with a brass planchette.
On leaving the crypt, the party is surprised by the appearance of two giant boring beetles, who have made the place their subterranean lair. A fight breaks out. Sindra uses another Burning Hands on one of the beetles, but is quickly knocked into unconsciousness by the crushing pincers of the monster. Both Ohda and Blondie use their melee weapons to ward off the beetles, while Nabila uses healing spells and Izzy flings darts (accidentally hitting Ohda on one occasion). The party eventually triumphs and leaves the crypt (with Ohda now covered in black ichor and gore from the beetles).
The PC’s encounter Father Isembard and several acolytes as they exit. Someone must have observed the party breaking into the crypt, for the priest appears quite angry with the group and demands an explanation. Nabila uses some diplomacy skills to verbally turn the tables on the priest, putting him on the defensive. The party questions Isembard on the empty niches in the crypt, and also gets him to admit that last week a recently buried person rose from their grave and attacked a villager before being put down by the sheriff and his deputies. The party requests for Isembard to have one of his acolytes check the church records for more information about the crypt and its ‘missing’ occupants.
After resting to heal wounds suffered at the hands of the giant beetles, the PC’s identify some of the magical scrolls they recovered (Detect Undead, two scrolls of Invisibility to Undead, and a clerical scroll of Protection from Evil). The party also inquires with Corben about the exact manner in which Professor Elias died. Corben informs them that his father had an accident while researching something at the Harrowstone prison outside of town. Some rubble from the ruins apparently collapsed on him, and it wasn’t until much later that a passing patrol found his body.
An amusing aside occurs as Ohda realizes he is ill-equipped for underground exploration and decides to go to Ravenhill’s general store and purchase a torch. One torch. He leaves, but then realizes he has no means of lighting said torch. He returns to the store to buy some flint and steel. On his way out, he overhears some villagers bemoaning the Harrowstone memorial being vandalized. Ohda chides them for gossiping instead of tending to their ‘peasant duties’, then returns to the rest of the group to inform them of the latest development in town.
The party investigates the memorial, a large statue of Warden Hawkran, the former warden of the prison. On the plaque below the statue is a list of names of the guards and the warden’s wife, Vesorianna, who all perished in a fire that destroyed the prison in 4361. On the opposite side of the statue the party sees the vandalism the townsfolk mentioned – the letters ‘V’ and ‘E’ – written in what appeared to be human blood (later confirmed by Nabila).
After conferring with Corben about where exactly the professor died on the prison grounds, the party heads out towards the ruins. They find an ivy covered gate hanging open negligently. The halls of Harrowstone await…