Trail of the Broken Spear

Plight of the Creeping Death

The journal’s first entries on the subject of the Creeping Death mention the border town of Malakh, on the northern edge of Khalass. Kranz was not the best of note keeper’s and much of his text is in dwarven, but he obviously thought something of interest was there, but does not seem to have been able to investigate it yet.

"Turin Barrow" "The Jagged Spear"
The skeletal champion of the necromancer lay strewn about the embalming chamber within the barrow. The Companions and the few remaining members of the Jagged Spear were exhausted and wary, the energy sustaining the champion as had fled through a secret passageway leading directly to the barrow’s entrance. They did not follow for several minutes, discovering the passage only when they returned to the entrance themselves. The necromancer was gone, the feminine laugh all that remained in their minds in the aftermath. Meriss, the tiniest member of the Jagged Spear teetered, on the verge of collapse, her skin pale and cool, her lustrous pink hair faded to almost gray. A sure sign of the Bleaching, but none knew what it meant. They fled through the swamp only to stumble upon the most feared denizen of any swamp. It struck them by surprise, it was young, but still incredibly stealthy, it’s slick black scaled head breaking the water of the swamp, spewing a line of acid at the first set in the line of weary adventurers. it circled back into the waters as Xander and Maliky surged forward, it struck at Xander, it’s fangs rending his armor and sinking deeply into him. Maliky leapt into the air, driving his glaive deeply into the beast’s side as it attacked them both, leaving them bloody and torn, both Joelle and Antius were forced to keep their front line healed, unable to assist in other ways, lest they fall.
The Black dragon's whelp, only 8 feet long, was winded from the fighting, however, and fled swiftly, losing more than a few scales in the process. They hurried from the swamp, loading the injured into their untouched cart, Xander and Maliky lifting the yoke, pulling it back to Tir Anassi. There they sold Xander's supply of shoddy weaponry, and their cast offs they'd retained from switching to their mentor's gear. Antius and Meriss were put into the care of a Temple of Tymora, the Goddess of Luck, for swift healing. Antius was fitted with a finely crafted dwarven prosthetic leg and Meriss, while seeming better still seemed worn and without joy...
The Turin Barrow
"Turin Barrow"

The companions entered the swamp, bringing their beast of burden, a mule named Arrold, in the swamps. His reluctance slowed them greatly, making only a third of the way through their planned route on the first day. The swamp was filled with many horrible creatures and the were accosted by a surprised Green Hag, catching it unawares, losing many resources in driving it off. Their mule got injured in the fight and seemed weakened. Arrold, alas, did not survive the day as a great, many headed beast barred their path, foraging along the slight path in the swap. It tore the mule apart and severely injuring the group, leaving them wondering how they were going to survive the night. As luck would have it, they stumbled across an old traveler’s shrine with a bit of magic left in it. They stayed there in safety, their Paladin finding a medallion of healing, with the markings of the goddess of luck herself emblazoned upon it. The group set off again and again the swamp struggled to hold them from their intended goal, The Turin Barrow. A large beast rose from the swamps, seemingly made of the swamp itself, and lumbered towards them. The fight was swift and brutal, the Companions bloody and weary, completely unable to heal any more of there wounds, they found there was no place to rest, save for their destination and the shrine they left hours earlier. They traveled on, the muted light of day seemingly unchanging through the hours until they saw the form of a large hill break through the mists, stone outcroppings placed in non-random locations marking the small humps of barrows showed them they had found their destination, the Turin Barrow. The Turin Barrow was the largest of the group, with a vast man-made chasm before it, cutting deeply into the rock of the hill, it had filled, partially, with murky water, rank and stagnant with swarms of stinging insect floating noisily above it.
The Companions sought the shelter of on of the larger outcropping of rocks, as far from the main barrow as possible to set a camp and rest. Before they could do so, Francesca and Maliky heard the distant sounds of combat, and had a quick discussion over whether they should interfere in their condition or wait and recuperate. Loyalty to the Jagged Spear won out and the two stealthiest went to investigate, finding Dayna, surrounded by undead fighting to defend the entrance of the barrow, neither Meriss nor Antius were to be seen. Piles of bones and bodies gave testament to Dayna’s combat prowess, though she was badly injured, a femur of some humanoid jammed into her abdomen like a spear pinned her to the doorway, giving her no room to maneuver and quickly sapping her strength.

The Companions fought bravely to rescue their beloved mentor, and somehow won out over the waves of undead… for now.

The Apprentice's Letter
More clues to the Trail

Ulchim, my apprentice,
The members of the Jagged Spear are harrowing my work as you well know, but I have just recently learned they’ve been training others in Westcrown. Keep about your business of ensuring the elven caravans do not reach Westcrown, but be wary for the Spear’s prodigies. I do not want them following their heroes and aiding them against me. As for the Spear itself, I shall await them within the Turin Barrow, they will not be able to stand before me there.

~ V

The Turin Barrow is a long-forgotten burial site in the now swampy land surrounding the mouth of the river that lies surprising within a day or so’s ride from Tir Anassi. That is, if such a thing were possible. The terrain of the swamp makes bringing mounts through it a perilous prospect as they risk broken legs, not mentioning the dangerous denizens of the swamp themselves.

To Know of Turin Barrow:

  • Knowledge: Local check – DC 23
  • Knowledge: History check – DC 25

Turin Barrow was once the burial place for ancient noble lords of the land, before the unification of Pellanon until a shift of the river flooded the land, causing the barrow to be abandoned and eventually the sodden surrounding lands became the [[Swamp of Khal’tur]], the name borrowed from the old barrow itself.

The party can go back to town to resupply, sell off the extra supplies or even buy storage from them and to get more info. A few people they may speak to to find out about the Turin Barrow are:

Through the forest

The trip to the edge of the swamp will take upwards of a week. The road will be fast, but not head in the right direction, while trying to beeline straight for it will get them physically closer, but will go slower and there will be encounters each day. People stick to the roads for a reason. Standard fare for forest encounters, but the first night has Grelk try to sneak into the camp for food. He has control of his urges, unlike most goblins, and knows the common tongue, but he still likes to eat, despite not needing to. He will run away if confronted, and fight if cornered. He is fine with talking if coaxed.
No straggling undead. except for a 20% each day to stumble upon a small battleground (not cumulative, unique encounter) There are burnt out pyres with the bodies of the dead, and a small cairn made with some interesting items laid beside it.

The Cairn is for Kranz Leadbelly, next to it are his

  • Masterwork Breastplate
  • Masterwork Battle Axe
  • Masterwork Heavy Steel Shield

Swamp of Khal’tur

An old road made of overgrown, broken cobblestones comes to a gradual, waning end as the ground dampened and standing water became more prevalent. The bright, cheerful colors of the forest muted, then faded away to be replaced with the dull grays of the Swamp of Khal’tur. According to the ancient information you’d received, the Turin Barrow was still a quarter of a days ride in under the best of conditions.

  • DC 17 Survival check to figure out that slogging to the Barrow will likely take a day, if not more.

As you enter the swamp, the murky surroundings get more dank and the road disappears completely, leaving you with only a vague sense of direction. A haze covers the area, choking of the sunlight and leaving you with just a vague sense of the direction of the sun. The foul stench of rotting vegetation, and who knows what else fills the air as you pick your way through the highest ground, trying to keep to just ankle deep muck, each step sucking on your boots as they lift out of it, threatening to pull your boots off without even being deep yet.

The first random encounter should be rolled after an hour of making their way into the swamp. If they are foolish enough to bring a horse, go for it first as it will smell tastier than the humans.

The Mule brought in survived the attack by the Green Hag, but was eaten quickly by the Hydra the group stumbled upon next. Both denizens were defeated, but the party was weary, drained and exhausted in a swamp that grew more and more deadly. As Tymora, the lady of luck, would have it, they stumbled upon an ancient traveler’s shrine to her honor, granting them some needed respite for the night, having only made it a third of the way through during the day. They slept safely and soundly and Joelle discovered a hidden catch within the shrine as she knelt and prayed before it the next morning. Within was an Amulet of Healing.

The Start of a Trail

The Companions continue to follow the tracks, which lead off the trail and into the forest. Luckily the trail is fairly easy to follow…

To follow the Zombie Rat Swarm’s trail is a DC 15 survival check, the party can take a 10 and still make headway as the rodents are not moving at a very swift pace. If they stay on the trail, they’ll encounter the rats swarming over a writhing lump, that ceases moving just before the party can act. The lump is Stitch, one of their mentors. He’d stayed behind and got caught unaware while catching a swift nap after lunch.

Normal corpse rat swarm Joelle leapt forward, sparking a torch to life, intent on burning the rats with the torch she brandished while Xander drew his mace, thinking that the tale of bludgeoning undead would prove effective against the swarm. Lucia plucked rats off of Joelle as they swarmed her while little Francesca shivered in terror, seeing her mentor lying bloody on the ground. Maliky roared, charging the undead vermin, cleaving into them with his mighty glaive. Several seconds of fighting later and it was done. The rats and Stitch lay very dead. Stitch’s gear was recovered and a pyre made for him, the rats were burned in a separate bonfire. The weary party left the clearing and camped for the night, only to be attacked the next morning by freshly made human skeletons. They defeated the new batch of undead and followed their trail to a small, humble looking hut.

Francesca, swallowing her fear, snuck out and scouted around the hut, finding unmoving skeletons laying under several of the bushes in the area, unnoticed. She also noticed a tall, gaunt man within the hut, Apprentice Ulchim, then came back, informing the others of what she saw. They made plans and assumed the skeletons within the bushes were active guards hidden in the brush. Xander told Francesca to gather her courage and hide beside the hut’s door and wait for the man to come out and offer her his back before striking out and sinking her blades into his vital spots, they’d do the rest.

Once she was in position, they advanced upon the hut, but were not expecting the blinding speed of the skeletons as they leapt to attack. The fight was furious, these skeletons being made of a more durable set of bones, and the group had only felled on of them before the dread necromancer’s apprentice exited the hut, his body protected by powerful magic, but even his preparations had not accounted for the lucky blade of Francesca as it navigated it’s way past the armor made of force and plunged deeply into his back, he screamed, the spell on his lips forgotten and the dagger found it’s way to his flesh once more time before the halfling’s courage broke. Francesca bolted around the hut, cowering by the wall, only barely registering the hands of a zombie breaking through the earthen garden. Two more of the skeletal warriors fell, leaving a single one to fight the Companions. Maliky roared in anger, sprinting past the skeleton to strike at the injured mage, his glaive coming down in a hard arc, only to stop an inch short of even tousling the mage’s robes. Ulchim laughed loudly, his eyes crackling with a black and purplish flame as he spoke a quick enchantment, his hand covered in the same crackling negative energy which he touched to himself, healing one of the wounds in his back. As he did so, one of Lucia’s arrows found his withered heart, silencing the mage permanently. The companions quickly slew the weakened undead that were left without casualty.

Caravan Attack
First Battle

The note was fairly accurate in the location of the caravan.
It’s late afternoon when the Companions find the caravan. The wide earthen path is littered with remnants of the caravan’s equipment, the wagon lies on it’s side of the path, the two horses lay dead in the yokes, stripped nearly bare of any meat. Several bodies lie strewn on the path, also similarly skeletonized. After much searching, an odd trail was found moving away from the site of the attack.

The party burned the bodies they found, earning them a hidden 2k xp for disposing of a threat that would have attacked that night, but still got attacked, and injured badly by a roving pack of skeletal wolves.

Skeletal wolf

In the morning they still have the odd trail leading away from the pyre they made of the caravan…


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