The party awoke after resting the night outside of town. This included Xana (Ranger), Glaark (Barbarian), Marie (Wizard), Mort (Druid/Bard), and Watcher (Fighter/Warblade). It was a cool, overcast morning that was barely lighter than the night. A slow rain of large drops started to fall as the party moved toward town.
Description of the Fortress and Town of Crag:
As you approach on the dirt path along the stream, it rounds a large hill and you see the fortress. It sits on a low plateau on the west side of a mountain. Below the fortress is a modest sized town. The town is a mish-mash of buildings seemingly dropped in random order in front of the fortress. The streets are narrow and most buildings are wood with a few stone first floor, wood second floor. There is no order to anything and there is quite a bit of dirt and garbage. The fortress overlooks the entire valley. There is a set of outer and inner walls, each about 25’ tall with round towers evenly spaced. Smoke slowly drifts out of a chimney about 75’ up the side of the cliff. About 60’ up on the cliff face behind the fortress there appear to be large wooden doors.
There are several distict features in the town:
1. A large stone building that is clearly a massive Inn.
2. On a small hill at the edge of town there is a graveyard with a stone building near it. The fence around the graveyard is short and in poor repair.
3. A maze of small booths making up a bustling, chaotic market.
4. Near the edge of the market, a clean, distinct stone building.
There is no wall of any kind around the town itself.
As the party approaches the town, where the dirt trail turns to cobblestone, there is a single guard tower. Two rough looking men with some sort of official “uniform” (actually more of a cloth neck piece). They looked the party over and demanded 5 gp each to enter. An innocent question by Watcher, which came out as somewhat obnoxious, resulted in: “Ten gp for the metal freak.”
Mort stepped up and negotiated the price down to 2 gp each and then paid it. The guards seemed happy with this and wandered back into the shelter of the tower happily splitting their spoils.
The party wandered the market listening for information and trying to make some contacts. Glaark realized that he had a fair amount of gear taken from previous battles and with help managed to get it sold for a decent price. The group also found out some various rumors:
The mayor had a big arguement with the Duke and soon after disappeared.
The Duke’s second in command, and former best friend, was put to death.
The Executioner was overheard saying: “Another 8 today! If the Duke doesn’t slow down there won’t be nobody left pretty soon!”
“After dark don’t go near that darn cemetary. Folks disappear up there and don’t never come back!”
The Duke has replaced most of the high-ranking advisors, captains, and officials with nasty “creatures” recently. Except the captain of the guard.
Don’t go near the graveyard at night – the dead get up and walk around despite Kruum’s best efforts.
The Duke’s wife used to come down to town on a regular basis to shop. She has not been seen for weeks.
The captain of the guard has always been self-serving and devious.
The group eventually enters the large Inn (Stone Tower Inn) and has some food and drink. As they sat in the slightly dirty main room a large mean-looking hobgoblin came down the stairs and yelled at the staff then proceeded out the door. A few questions to the abused staff revealed that the inn is owned by a trio of hobgoblin brothers who recently acquired it when the previous owners left town.
Refreshed and ready to go the group decided to head to the mortuary near the graveyard to see if they could meet the mysterious figure. The day had gone from cold and drizzly to cold and rainy. On their way they noticed a group of four clearly drunk town guard. Rather than trying to avoid them, the party confronted the guards and a brief arguement ensued. As often happens, a fight ensued. Watcher (the Warforged) struck the nearest guard, breaking his nose and leaving him realing. Marie followed with a sleep spell and dropped the other three. Not wanting to be left out Glaark (barbarian) decided to join in…with his AXE! The guard with the broken nose was cut from shoulder belly and fell, very dead. The rest of the party was a bit shocked as the hope had been to subdue the guards, not kill them.
The group looked around and were lucky that the street was deserted. They dodged off the street, hoping that they weren’t seen, and quickly moved to the mortuary.
Knocking on the door they were greated by a tall robed figure who indicated he was Kruum, the caretaker of the graveyard. Inside were stone slabs with dead bodies in various states of preparation for burial.
Discussion with Kruum revealed that he had been here, doing this job, for a long, long time and that the graveyard (and perhaps he himself) was cursed.
He agreed to lead them into the graveyard and allow them into the small burial chambers that allowed entry into the dungeon.