The priest of Raylack Church, Father Malley, mysteriously disappeared from the village shortly before the recent tide of strange events began. Seeing that this may not be coincidental, and hoping for an easy day in Raylack, the Risen visit Malley’s home. Unfortunately, this day will be one of the hardest they have yet faced. As the group walk up the long path to the priest’s house, they encounter a villager who informs them that of late, a loud dog has been barking at all hours of the night. Wistark is surprised to hear that a holy man would be negligent enough to leave a dog on his abandoned property.
At the end of Malley’s drive, the Risen find a garden, bordered on all sides by a massive hedge. A single wooden gate serves as the house’s entrance. Wistark pushes it aside and enters first. Within the confines of the garden it is shaded and claustrophobic, the grass overgrown and the hedge wild and untrimmed. A tool shed stands in a corner nearby, and beyond it there is a broken fountain and a dog house. At the end of the garden stands the house, its door and windows boarded. Wistark is unsettled – it feels so quiet and boxed in.
The uncomfortable sensation he experiences reminds him of feelings he has had underground while searching ruins or, in his younger days, exploring with the Dwarves. Lost in his memories for a moment, he surveys the garden for traps. Nothing. Obviously. Still unnerved, he uses the mage hand to open the tool shed at a safe distance. But it is locked. Poobeyr pushes the wizard aside and charges at the shed door, knocking it down with his shoulder. Seeing this amuses all present, and the quiet tension of moments before quickly begins to dissipate. The Risen are further relieved when Lumen, who has keen senses, finds nothing strange in the imposing border hedges.
Wistark crudely suggests to Grimlock that a dog house with an axe hole on top would make a fine toilet. Grimlock takes this seriously, and starts walking through the long grass to the far end of the garden. Inside the tool shed, Poobeyr finds gardening implements and a sticky, blood-smeared axe, the latter of which he adds to his pack. Grimlock reaches the dog house and moves to kick through its roof. A huge dog barrels from inside and bites his unraised leg, unbalancing the surprised reptile enough to topple him over. The hound leaps onto his chest and tears a chunk from his scaled neck with jagged, blackened teeth.
Encounter: Serious Weeds
They are attacked by a large dog and several aggressive plant vines that put up a surprisingly difficult fight, but the adventurers are victorious regardless. They cross the lawn to Malley’s front door. Wistark hacks at the boards covering it with a cloud of daggers, leaving only one board intact. Poobeyr uses his new axe to break the last board, and then attempts to kick the door open. Unfortunately the door holds, and the warrior falls backwards onto his ass. Grimlock charges the door, but it also holds against this attack, and a stunned dragonborn joins Poobeyr on the ground with a bashed face. Keyleth walks despairingly past these two buffoons and opens the door using its handle.
Confronted by a staircase, she walks immediately upstairs. Lumen enters the kitchen and claims several throwing knives. Wistark walks past the stairs into the downstairs study, and finds diary entries written by Father Malley that detail weeks of experimentation with the powers of necromancy. They reveal that the priest spent almost the entire Autumn trying to perfect this dark art in order to revive his dead wife, Bonnie, and also claim that the dog in the garden was an undead product of this very labour!
Outside, in an attempt to nurse his hurt pride, Grimlock tries to vault into the kitchen through its boarded window. He impacts the wooden planks with a deep THUD sound and falls pathetically back to the ground. Wistark hears this noise from the study, but is too engrossed in a local history book to investigate. Meanwhile, Poobeyr has hobbled upstairs and hidden under the covers of a double bed. When Keyleth enters the room, he jumps up and scares her. She slaps him.
Keyleth finds another diary entry, and takes it downstairs for Lumen to read. It chronicles Father Malley’s continuing experimentation, and also provides a startling revelation – in the last days of Autumn, the priest relocated to the mausoleum inside the grounds of Raylack Church only 22 days before the Risen Adventurers earned their name.
The Risen finish exploring the house and reconvene outside, where Grimlock is chopping sulkily at the body of Malley’s dog. All present are shocked to hear that Malley performed necromancy, but the fact he experimented in the cemetery of Raylack Church sends deeper chills down every spine. Could this deluded priest be their maker? If so, could they have been lying stone dead in their graves not a week past? The adventurers set out immediately for the Church, feeling closer to solving this mystery than ever before.
On their way back to Raylack village they are approached by a villager, who informs them that Cain Dunwithy is raving outside the Slaughtered Lamb. The Risen soon come across the man in question, ranting frantically at his followers about the gravesnatching of his famous ancestor Albert. Lumen pays a local dwarf named Bombur Deer to keep watch on the empty home of Joseph Curwen, which recent witnesses say has been lit at night. After a quick meal, the group press on to the church. They find that Albert Dunwithy’s body has indeed been taken, but the empty grave provides no clues.
Under the dim dusk sun, the Risen Adventurers stand before the door to the cemetery mausoleum, the site of the priest’s most recent experiments. Its entrance is unlocked, and Poobeyr quietly opens the door. Wistark throws a Lightbang inside, which explodes brightly. The group leap into the room. It is empty. A trail of footprints in the dust lead them between large stone coffins to a contraption in the floor. Coloured crystals stick outwards at odd angles. Remembering a poem in Malley’s diary, Lumen suggests pushing the crystals in a certain order. When Grimlock follows this suggestion, the contraption activates and a circular hatch opens in the floor.
The dragonborn ignores the available ladder and drops to the floor below. Fortunately this is not a great distance and he lands without harming himself. He proceeds down a pitch black corridor to a balcony, and hesitantly the others follow. Wistark sets a Light ahead of Grimlock, revealing a large chamber that houses more stone coffins. Steps lead down from the balcony into the main room. Grimlock continues to lead, but after descending the stairs and taking his first step into the chamber, he treads upon a pressure plate.
Encounter: Disturbing the Dead
Grimlock springs a trap, and the group are overwhelmed by the vicious fruits of Malley’s necromantic experiments – swarms of animated hands and a huge morbid snake composed of human remains. In the aftermath of battle, hands lie in pieces everywhere. Each step knocks fingers across the floor. Keyleth Glick lies dead on the chamber steps.
Putting to one side their feelings of grief and failure, Grimlock and Lumen find a high alcove at the end of the chamber that houses a small study area. Inside there is a short, squat work desk and two tall bookcases filled with necromantic tomes. More importantly, Fraedlen Malley sits on the desk chair, slumped against a wall, his heart ripped out through his chest.
Lumen finds the last entry from Malley’s diary on the desk and discovers that the priest, after being visited in an educational dream by Bango Skank, was successful in bringing his wife back from the dead. She awoke insane, and he was forced to kill her, fleeing the scene shortly afterward… on the same night that the Risen awoke in the graveyard.
Though he has now learnt all he can, the militant elf is not done yet. He creates a fire, hoping to destroy all the secrets of necromancy in the bookcases before anyone else (companions included) can discover them. Grimlock attempts to save one bookcase, but he picks it up ineptly and the large books fall to his feet. The fire quickly turns into an inferno and Grimlock and Lumen are forced to leap from the high alcove back into the main chamber to escape the conflagration. Wistark is enraged with the elf, but can do nothing about the fire. The group carry Keyleth’s body to the doctor’s clinic in Raylack and sleep in the Slaughtered Lamb.