Mourning Has Broken

The adventurers search the mortuary room, noting the vats of embalming fluid and medical tools in the alcoves, and the skull-carved altar and heavy stone font before the locked black metal door which appears to be the only exit. Yuri ingeniously suggests using one of the medical tools to lockpick the door, and Torus sets himself to the task without success. Yuri pushes him out the way and makes an attempt, but his fat Kislevian fingers only succeed in breaking the tool within the lock.

A less subtle approach is suggested, and Torus, Grudge, Yuri and Gottschalk lift the heavy stone font from its base—tipping out the water sacred to Morr—and smash it against the door. The metal buckles and breaks, providing access to a flight of stone stairs leading upwards into the grey daylight. Led by Grudge, the adventurers climb the stairs and find themselves in the Garden of Morr, usually only the province of priests of the Lord of Death and Dreams.

The garden is surrounded by a high wall, the grounds filled with gravestones and the occasional monument, and almost overgrown with bushes of black roses that are beginning to whither. Rain patters against the stones, and the sky is low and overcast. An occasional bolt of lightning hits the roof of the mausoleum, to be dissipated safely by a brass lightning rod. Gottschalk, who has been here before, points out the path ahead, leading through the graveyard leading to a mausoleum against the far wall, and the central tomb of the hero Olaus Stichelm.

The adventurers cautiously advance, keeping an eye in all directions. When they reach the tomb they see that it has split asunder—from inside. Torus attempts to climb to the top of the low tomb to examine an empty niche, but slips and falls on his back in the wet grass. Yuri then climbs up, and is surprised by the sudden appearance of Waltrout, who seems to have entered the garden via a different route. Around the niche are chips of marble indicated that a headstone once here has been removed.

Without warning, a hand shoots up from the ground and grabs Yuri’s leg; then another, then another! Waltrout shrieks as the dead burst forth from the earth in a wave of rotting flesh; a shambling horde of decaying men and women dragging themselves from their graves, groaning with hunger. Undead lunge at Gottschalk from behind a grave statue, and he and Yuri desperately fight off the horrific creatures. Other groups of zombies engage the others, as the entire graveyard seethes with the living dead.

The adventurers fight off the dead; Immolatus firing bolts of flame, Torus rapidly shooting off arrows, Grudge wielding his mighty axe with thunderous blows. Each exerts himself to the maximum to beat off the grasping hands and then sprints towards the relative safety of the mausoleum.

After short and desperate combat they all sprint to the mausoleum door, only Yuri critically wounded with a bite to his left arm. Immolatus opens the door—thankfully unlocked—and the adventures tumble forward into the darkness, slamming the door behind them which soon shudders with the blows and scratching of the undead.

Immolatus brings forth a flame, and looking around them the adventurers see the room is an ossuary; every conceivable place is decorated with human bones. A pyramid of skulls eight feet tall dominates the room, a flight of stone stairs descends beside it. As they take in this macabre scene, a clattering and shifting is heard and bones knit themselves together and fall from the ceiling, forming full skeletons that bare their way to the stairs. Again, battle is joined as the adventurers force their way through to the only exit.

Finally the entire party runs down the stairs and into a crypt, closing a door behind them. They hear the muffled sounds of the zombie horde beating at the mausoleum door, and the terrifying clacking of the skulls above gnashing their teeth. Thankfully, the crypt seems relatively safe. Several curtained alcoves are searched by Torus, who after discovering a larder, well, and wardrobe, is startled by a statue of a skeleton in another alcove.

Grudge carefully peeks around one of the two doors leading of the room, and sees a short corridor leading to a small dark room—behind a large shape on the floor is a dark figure, and some kind of green mist glows between them. Torus investigates the other room and finds a study complete with table, chair and bookshelves. Immolatus casts a spell to cauterise Yuri’s would and temporarily cure him of its effects.

The adventurers prepare themselves to confront the shape in the first room. As they enter, Grudge at the front, followed by Torus, they see an ebony coffin with a still figure dressed in black lying in it; behind the coffin, her hands clutching at the recumbent figure’s head and seemingly drawing out its life force, is the rotting corpse of Madrigal, the woman in Burgomeister Phillip Adler’s dream. She is dressed in a ragged, dirty, purple gown; her cheeks sunken, her eye sockets empty, her pale skin rotten and writhing with maggots. her long black hair hangs lankly over her shoulders. Her mouth seems to leer in a lop-sided grin where her lips have been eaten away. A silver pendant hangs around her withered neck, set with a large, black gem.

Her mouth cracks open and a hoarse voice tells them that the festering corpse is driven by the will of the necromancer Lazarus Mourn … Suddenly, Waltrout, falls to the floor of the corridor, calling Mourn his master, babbling nonsense, and ripping his shirt off to reveal his chest and back scarred with tiny words.

At that moment, from where it was hidden near the door, the huge, armoured skeleton of Olaus Stichlem steps out to block the adventurers’ passage. He wears plate armor green with age and wields a mighty great sword. Lashed to his arm and serving as a shield is his headstone—a marble slab that flickers with blue energy.

Grudge attacks with his axe, Torus fires off his arrows, and Immolatus sends blots of flame towards the ancient skeleton. The battle is hard-fought but eventually, with a groan of relief, it collapses into dust. Mourn casts a spell of Mortification and Immolatus is surrounded with a green mist, sapping his will. But Mourn alone is no match for the adventurers, and the corpse is taken down with two arrows fired by Torus. As it falls, a green mist pours out of its mouth and eye sockets and into the pendant’s gem, and the cacophony of zombies beating against the mausoleum door and the gnashing of skeletal jaws suddenly ceases. There is a moment of horrible recall as the corpse whispers “where’s Phillip?”; and then the remnants of Madriga’s tortured soul return to rest.

The adventurers rest and tend their wounds. Torus searches the bookshelves in the study and finds an old scroll, which unfortunately no one can read. Brother Grabbe, the figure in the coffin, is found to still be alive, but in need of medical attention. After several hours rest the adventurers carry him, still in the coffin, out into the garden—a horrific sight, the ground disturbed and litted with corpses in all stages of decay—and back to Stromdorf.

Waltrout is tied up and led back to town. Gottschalk carries the breastplate and shield of Stichelm, to be placed in the Temple of Sigmar. The occasional lightning bolt seems to follow the marble headstone that the adventurers have identified as another piece of the strange map or code stone they are discovering. Gottschalk remarks that it reminds him of the lightning that often strikes the Temple of Sigmar during his sermons, and Grudge asks him if the temple has a crypt, which it apparently does.

Back in Stromdorf, the adventurers are hailed again as conquering heroes. Brother Grabbe is taken to Dr Schneider for healing, and later Yuri also goes there to be healed of his critical bite wound, though he must stay there several days at a cost of nineteen silver pieces to fully recover. Gottschalk is grateful to the adventurers for the opportunity to ‘get back in the saddle’ as it were, and returns to his Temple. Kessler is informed of Waltrout’s connivance with the necromancer—he supplied him with bodies he ‘borrowed’ from Morr’s Garden—and thrown into gaol. Adler is enormously grateful and very emotional, saying he has dishonoured his predecessors and vowing to immediately return to his duties as burgomeister. The adventurers are paid fifty silver each as a reward.

Back at the Thunderwater Inn, Sebastien Brenner buys the adventurers drinks. Torus tells him that they encountered his dead wife, but that she had been laid again to rest and ‘her last words were of you’. Brenner takes this news in stony silence and walks away. Niklaus Schulmann is eager for news of any ‘lightning stones’, and when told that the stone rests at the Temple of Sigmar, he immediately rushes off to begin his study of it.

The adventurers visit the eccentric Professor Hieronymous Köpfchen, ask him to decifer the old scroll (he cannot; it is in classical Tilean), and tell him of the lightning stone, who accompanies them to the Temple. There, Gottschalk hails them before the congregation as heroes, then leads them down into the crypt where Stichelm’s armour and sword and the stone are being kept. Schulmann and Köpfchen begin working together to decifer the inscriptions, Köpfchen mentioning that the stone reminds him of stories of an ancient Elven seer stone that the temple was supposedly built over, or perhaps moved to make way for the temple. Torus looks around the temple for anything that might indicate the prescence of another stone, but without success.

That night as the adventurers rest, a huge gale sweeps through the town, smashing tiles from roofs, toppling chimneys and breaking windows. The next morning Stromdorf is alive with the news that the granneries have been destroyed, and the harvest stored there ruined.

The next day, the adventurers (except for Yuri) gather some digging tools together and plan to head out of the town towards the lonely haunted hill of Tempest Knap.

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