Dinner Party, Skeleton Style

The party waited a few minutes after the encounter with the carrion crawler to catch its breath and redistribute the armor and shields.  Liligar’s move silently plan had worked to perfection and, with the exception of some bloody bandages and a dented shield or two, it would be hard to tell that the party had already fought its way through two encounters. Ahead of the group, faintly visible in the lantern light, was another door.

The party moved aside as the small halfling padded his way to the door. He put his ear up to the wood and waited. The look on his face communicated to the rest of the characters that he could hear nothing. Reaching under his jerkin, Liligar removed a small thieves’ tools kit, opened it, and selected a slender piece of metal. He deftly moved the pick in and out of the keyhole, occasionally jiggling it. For a couple rounds, the party did nothing but watch as the nimble halfling picked the lock. A small smile crossed his face, and he waved the party forward.

Dorengar and Rordricke took their usual positions at the front of the party; they were comically mismatched in size: the dwarf, stocky and coming up to the paladin’s slender waist. But the size mismatch meant nothing during battle, as the battles with the kobolds and the owlbear demonstrated. Following them were the barbarian and Karyn, Priestess of Wenta. The barbarian’s quickness more than offset the clumsy gait and bulky figure of the cleric. The four characters drew in breath, grabbed swords, axes, and maces more tightly, and burst into the room.

Although all four adventurers had seen many unusual sights in their brief lives, what they saw upon entering this room was new to all of them. Eight skeletons sitting around a dinner table, each dressed in elegant coats or jackets. As they sat, they mechanically raised goblets filled with what looked to be wine to their lips and drank. The wine spilled out of fleshless faces and onto the floor, where it vanished. Knives and forks clicked on plates as meat of some sort was cut and eaten, only to have it fall back onto the plate.

The barbarian’s superstitious blood couldn’t take it anymore. With the battle cry of his ancestors at his lips, he pushed aside the dwarf and the paladin, raising his axe for the attack. He swung its pitted but dangerous blade in a wide arc; one of the skeletons put a goblet-holding hand in front of the blade in an effort to stop it. The axe crashed through skeletal bone, continuing its path through the skeleton’s rib cage. Two of the other undead diners slowly rose out of their chairs and moved towards Imlari, one holding a rusty cutlass in one hand and a mug in the other.

And then they stopped.

Karyn stood in front of the party, holding a golden sickle and wreath, the icons of Lady Wenta, Goddess of the Harvest. “Go no further. Your time here is passed; return to the dust,” she commanded. The skeletons looked at the cleric with blank eyes. She held her ground. “Stay where you are. Lady Wenta will reward you with rest,” she continued. Neither side moved.

The pause in the combat was all that Dorengar needed. He pulled his vial of oil from his pouch and threw it at the candles still burning on the table. The flask broke on contact, spreading oil in all directions. The candles tipped over; one of the candles fell against the curtains, starting a fire. Imlari grabbed a log from the fireplace and swung it around like a club. He caught one of the skeletons directly on top of its head, driving the skeletal face into the unappetizing food. The dwarf and the barbarian moved towards the burning curtain.

Karyn saw the burning curtain as well. Taking another step forward, she closed the distance between her and the held skeletons.  One of the skeletons took a step backwards, directly into a burning spot of oil. Its shinbones caught fire and began to smoke. She took another step towards the other skeleton. It stared at her, unable to move, unable to flee.

Imlari swung his club at the held skeleton, catching it right beneath the shoulder blades. The wooden club shattered rather than broke the ribs of the undead. Bits of bone flew off, and the barbarian lost his balance. He fell towards the burning curtain, stumbling into one of the remaining skeletons and toppling it as well. Both fell into the fire. Imlari felt the skeleton break as he landed on top of it and then the sharp agony of burning.

Dorengar saw the barbarian falling into the fire, but that did not stop him from pulling the burning curtain down. He ripped the fabric off the wall and directly onto the remaining skeletons and Imlari. One of the skeletons was only partially caught, and it moved towards the unprepared dwarf. It stuck at him with skeletal claw; there was nothing the dwarf could do but take the painful scratch to the face. Dorengar regained his balance, grabbing a smouldering chair. The skeleton moved in, attacking with both hands. The first attack tore another strip in the dwarf’s skin; the second was blocked with now-burning armchair.

The cleric felt the power move through her and gather at the sickle. The golden icon began to slightly hum and glow. Karyn moved the symbol towards two skeletons and watched as both turned to run. But there was no escape. The curtain spread fire over all the tables and the skeletons. The paladin had rescued the barbarian from the smoldering curtain; the dwarf was beating his opponent into the ground with his burning chair. The halfling had already begun to loot the room, and the magic-user and assassin had taken up defensive positions at the door.

Karyn thought this had the makings of a great adventure.

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