Deep in the marshy woods, down a long forgotten path rests the gates of the Forgotten Village of Deadwood. The Halfling in the group takes a running start, trying to climb the bars, but soon finds that they are too high scale. As a group of adventurers wander through the rot iron gates, they see old weather-beaten houses along an unkempt dirt path. Gnarled trees grow hither and yon in a tangled mess. The people mournfully go about their daily business.
The adventurers approach one of the villagers, asking what is wrong. The villager answers sorrowfully, pointing to the small stone castle at the end of the road “One of the princes invited the children of our village into the palace yesterday and we haven’t heard from them since. We’ve tried visiting the palace to investigate, but there seems to be a barrier over the gate that we can’t pass through. Would you please find out what is going on in there?”
The group wanders up to the gate, warily testing the barrier, only to find that it doesn’t affect them. They pass through it, up a flight of stone steps, and up to a pair of massive oak doors. Inside the dark room, the newfound light ripples across the torn and tattered banners along either wall. The leaves and small rubble rustle in the breeze of the dirty stone floor.
Feeling unease, the Black Guard asks his deity “Are there any undead here.”
A low rumbling voice echoes “Yes.”
“Where are they?”
The group walks cautiously across the low lit room. Soon a small orb at the far end of the immense chamber begins to glow more vibrantly. The form of a transparent hooded humanoid being emerges, and the group hastily charges at the apparition. With several quick swings, the group realizes that their attacks simply pass through the smoky image. The visage tells them, “I am the Spirit of Justice. It seems the Day of Prophecy has come. You now have a great task before you. This kingdom was once ruled by a fair and just king who had two sons. Before he could name a successor he passed on to the next world. In addition, a grave crime has occurred within the walls of this castle. Your quest is twofold: speak to the princes and decide who is the rightful heir, and uncover the events that happened within these walls. Behind me are two doors; one that leads to Boromir in the Northern Wing, and one that leads to Casimir in the Southern Wing. Talk to both, find the clues and answer the unanswered question that plagues this realm.”
The adventurers ascend the steps to the Northern Wing first. At the top of the landing, they find book shelves along the adjacent walls and two running the center. Each isle appears to have four to five suits of armor standing vigil along the book cases. As one of the barbarians approaches, he smugly pushes one of the suits of rusted chain armor over, only for it to react; catching itself before it can fully fall over.
As it stands back up, an empty skull stares out from under the helmet back at the barbarian. The other four down that isle turn and stare at the intruders. Drawing their long swords, they turn and attack. Quickly defeating the small number of low level skeletons, the group is invigorated and ready for more.
Instead of proceeding down the empty isle, they instead walk along the bookshelf ends, instigating a fight with the last two rows of rusted armor-encased soldiers. The nine skeletons prove more of a challenge to the group, as during the course of the battle one falls unconscious and a few others become badly wounded.
At the end of the battle, after reviving their fallen comrade, the barbarian who instigated shouts into the darkness beyond the bookshelves “Hey YOU GUYS!”
A clattering of armor slowly draws louder and nearer as eighteen armor-clad skeletons slowly march in formation, filling each isle. In no time, the group is surrounded and vastly out-numbered. Feeling the moment is right, the Black Guard uses an ability he had not considered up to this date; Turn Undead. Only two of the eighteen skeletons succeed their saving throw. In an instant, the other sixteen fall in a pile of ash and rusted metal. The surviving skeletons soon perish.
At the far end of the room, beyond an iron gate sits the remains of Boromir on a ancient stone throne. As the group approaches, he raises his skull. The group gets down to business, asking what happened to the children.
“My brother called the children into the castle to read them a story. I am unsure what happened in his wing, though I heard the terrified screams echoing from the children as they died.”
“Why do you see yourself as the better candidate for king?”
“I am the elder brother and rightful ruler over these lands! Why is there any need for trivial discussion?”
With Boromir focused on the Black Guard, one of the group members tries sneaking around behind the prince to procure something of value from him. Boromir draws his jewel-encrusted long sword, pointing it right at the thief saying “Do not tempt me.”
With their business in the Northern wing complete, the adventurers return to the main hall and ascend the stairs to the Southern wing. Still bearing the wounds from their last encounter, the group quietly slips past the rows of armor [encasing the half-rotten, fleshy forms of zombies; eternally standing vigil over their prince]. At the far end of the room, they slip through the iron gates and approach Casimir; flesh falling off his bones, and only a shadow of his former self. As they draw nearer, Casimir mumbles mournfully “The children: they’re all dead.”
The Back Guard asks “Could I stab you a few times?”
“Feel free to do so; I don’t care anymore. I will not die anyway, no matter how many times you strike at me.”
As the Black Guard repeatedly stabs the prince, the others ask, “What happened to the children?”
“I asked the children into my home to read them a story; I used to love seeing their excited faces as I wove the many fantastic tales… On that day, I was reading through a story I had just found. Half-way through the tale, the words began to make no sense. Suddenly, each of the children burst into a column of flame. I was horrified and could do nothing to save them. I accept my curse; my punishment for my crime.”
“Where did this take place?”
“At the reading room to the Southeast corner of this wing.”
With nothing else to discuss, the group made their way cautiously through the rows of undead guardians to the reading room. As they entered, they noticed a massive book, open on a stand at the far end of the room, surrounded by several semi-circular patterned scorch marks on the stone floor. The group carefully spread out throughout the room to see what they could find. One of the group members tried unsuccessfully reading the foreign script. Half-way down the page, he realized that the words were moving, as if reading the text through an ebbing pool of water.
As the group was leaving, one of them noticed the scorched outline of an adult figure near the door.
At the bottom of the steps, the group confronted the Spirit of Justice saying “We are ready to make our decision.”
“I shall call the princes down then.”
Moments later, both princes stood before the adventurers. The Spirit asked “What have you uncovered and which of the princes should have been named king? Need I remind you, your decision will have a lasting effect on the people of this kingdom. Choose wisely.”
The Halfling barbarian responded, “Bomir blame for deaths!”
“We have evidence that Boromir was the one responsible for the deaths of the children and that Casimir should be the true leader of these lands.”
The spirit responded, “Your decision has been made.”
Furious at the results, Boromir shouted “You fools! I am the rightful ruler of these lands!” Black arms reach through the stone floor, grabbing onto Boromir and dragging him down as he continues “Hell itself will not contain me! I shall return and have my REVENGE!”
The Black Guard holds up a middle finger at the prince as Boromir disappears into the stone floor. The Spirit of Justice vanishes as Prince Casimir’s appearances slowly return to their former glory. The young prince walks up to the adventurers saying “I am grateful to you all for your help. I shall become the best ruler I can be, I promise you. This may not seem like much, but please take this gold as a token of this village’s thanks, and farewell in your journeys.”
The group turns and leaves the palace. As they descend the stone steps, they feel countless cold presences passing through them. At the gates, they look out as the village returns to its former glory; the buildings standing new and proud, the well kept yards abloom with countless varieties of flowers. The parents drop to their knees as their children reform and race into their arms.
Moments later everything fades. The buildings now completely gone, say for maybe the remnants of an old foundation or a corner post. The castle behind them is now an undistinguishable pile of rubble and twisted vines. The great iron gates that separated the village from the palace lie at the adventurers’ feet, mostly buried and rusted away. At the far end of the village near the mangled iron gate stands the Spirit of Justice, beckoning the adventurers forward.
“The citizens of this village thank you sincerely for what you’ve done. The crime you have uncovered happened well over a century ago. Now after all this time, the villagers are at peace.”
Calmly, the Spirit turns and leads the group back to the well trodden roads, bidding them farewell in all their future endeavors.