Having silenced the spokeskull of Master DuLan, the party is faced with a choice of doorways to explore. Savana remarks that doors are meant to be opened, so while Turin covers the northern door, Orsik and Mal investigate the one to the south. As stealthy as they can, they open the way to the south, passing through two sets of double doors and into a chamber filled with coffins. The eerie mist that pervades this place continues here, and Orsik ponders what effect it might be having on his beard.
The coffin-filled room is dark, and despite the party’s best efforts, their lights (an eerie torch, and a light spell) can’t completely penetrate the darkness. It is being suppressed somehow, and the fog seems to be almost engulfing the light. A pile of corpses and body parts catches the party’s notice, and as they move further into the room to investigate, coffins suddenly burst open around the room.
Skeletal soldiers slowly emerge from their resting places brandishing bows and swords. What’s more, a tangle of carnivorous plants closes in on the heroes in search of fresh blood. Savana and Gunju bat at the bloodthorns, and Gunju is quickly grabbed. Balasar, Turin, and Orsik find themselves occupied by skeletal soldiers. Then, from the back of the room, a skeleton wreathed in fire leaps from a coffin and blasts Mal with fiery magic! Mal is engulfed, but at the last moment throws his cloak about him and is able to avoid injury.
Savana and Gunju fight hard but find themselves at the mercy of vicious thorns tearing at their flesh. Balasar and Turin come to her aid, and she is inspired to continue the fight. The flaming skeleton focuses on the Paladin and unleashes fiery magic upon him, despite Mal’s attempts to distract him. Orsik makes short work of the skeletons, cleaving them in twain. Mal and Turin both curse their luck, the favors of the gods clearly not with them this day.
Shadowy tendrils snake up from the floor, entangling the vicious plants and the flaming skeleton, courtesy of one of Mal’s few spells to strike true. A hapless skeleton wanders into the shadows and is ripped apart. Savana and Gunju slice up the plants and the party descends upon their last foe. Balasar burns, despite Mal’s help, but eventually puts himself out. At last, with a clash of axes and swords, the fiery undead is torn asunder.
Catching their breath, the party takes a moment to asses their situation. Mal feels a tinge of guilt, and returns the skeletal remains to their coffins, attempting to respect those to whom these remains once belonged. These undead haven’t reanimated on their own—some force purposefully empowered them to serve as guardians. The adventurers investigate an eastern doorway and determine that beyond lies someone or something, and choose not to tempt fate. They are exhausted, and although pressing forward is prudent, they fear that cannot handle what may lie ahead without a rest.
Debate ensues, with Turin expressing his misgivings about making camp in this place. His background leads him to believe that, tactically, it is the best option, but it doesn’t mean he likes it. The party comes to a compromise (of sorts), deciding to hole up in a ruined section of the complex near where they first entered. To buy them a little security they make an effort to clean up the remains of their foes, stuffing them (or returning them to) the coffins abundant in this place. Mal remarks that he hopes the gods won’t look poorly on them stuffing the dead orcs in the former resting place of whomever this was originally built for, and Balasar tries to put his mind at ease by citing that the gods would probably understand. Mal, not completely convinced, makes the sign of Sehanine (as well as that of a few other gods) as they prep their camp for the night. They close the doors leading to the ruined section, and place an empty brazier behind them, a makeshift alarm should someone try to open the doors on them during the night.
As the adventurers settle in, Mal pulls out a leather-bound tome and mystical salts and traces the perimeter of the room, chanting arcane words. Gunju curls up at the feet of Savana, who scratches absent-mindedly behind his ear. Turin sits silently in the corner, sharpening his blade and replaying the last battle over in his head, analyzing it, wondering how he could have done it differently. Balasar says his evening prayers, and Orsik honors his ancestors before breaking into his rations.
Mal finishes his rite, a ward silencing the room against eavesdroppers, and notices Turin’s furrowed brow. He puts his hand upon Turin’s shoulder and tries to look on the bright side, saying, “At least this is the last thing they would expect.”
“I have first watch,” Turin replies.