Duran calls to Karnak and feeds him from his pack. He then goes and checks on Almo to see if he can be of any help. Fortunately, the darkness spell begins to fade. Though Almo doesn't have full sight back, he is beginning to make out vague forms and shapes, and seems to be improving by the minute.
Gaven goes over to Filbert's body and cleans him up as much as possible. Gaven says a prayer to the Light in Filbert's honor.
Oloc listens at the north door, but hears nothing on the other side. Opening the door, the mage sees a tunnel leading north – no doubt a secret passage heading onward into the dungeons beneath the keep as you originally expected.
All three leaders of the party proceed to examine the altar. As you look at the altar's surface, you can see several lines of wicked-looking characters carved into the altar's surface by Rottblood.
Oloc is able to make out the gist of the ancient evil language. Evidently Rottblood was carving a spell that would draw on the spiritual energies of those buried here and corrupt them. The corrupted spiritual energy would then be channeled into Rottblood himself so that he could – it appears – transform himself into a lich.
Examining Rottblood's body, you find that he was no ordinary mage. He was in fact a ghoul – already undead and, not content with his station, trying to move up in the underworld.
You also find upon him a gold ring, a diadem set with multi-colored gems, and another iron amulet with a symbol just like the one you found previously on his minions.
The rock-scraping you heard earlier – and which you still hear – is emanating from the stone of the altar itself as the wicked lines of text slowly fill themselves in and fade away. With Rottblood's death, the altar is repairing itself.
The iron chisel Rottblood used to carved the symbols still lies upon the altar's surface. Before your very eyes, it begins to dissolve as if it were bathed in acid. The process of the chisel's destruction leaves no mark upon the altar.
As you search the bodies of the skeletons you find little of value except for the gear they are carrying.
However, giving a closer examination to the altar, you find a secret compartment underneath. Within is a medium-sized coffer with Rottblood's symbol on it. Opening the coffer you find a substantial mixed assortment of gems, jewelry and gold.
All told, your haul from Rottblood's chamber – gear, gems, jewelry combined – is easily worth a total of 5,000-6,000 gp.
After the room is looted and secured, it is obvious that Almo is still quite shaken and cannot go on. You deem it would also be better to head back to town to bury Filbert and Wally. And of course Hazel will have to be told.
As you make your way back through the catacombs, you note that the puddles of red liquid have almost all disappeared. When you pass through the chamber containing the Mirror of Blessed Souls, you find the water perfectly clear, still and placid. When Gaven looks into the water, the reflection of a face appears therein – not his own face, but the peaceful face of some old abbot.
The face whispers to Gaven: "Thank you." The image then wavers for a moment, smiling, and disappears.
When you make your way to the top of the stairs into the chapel, your comrades there are overjoyed to see you alive, but saddened to see yet another of the halflings dead.
All together you travel solemnly back to Fairbrook. The journey is without incident.
Hazel breaks down and cries hysterically for hours when she sees Filbert's body. However, you eventually manage to calm her and console her as much as can be done, and you ensure that both Filbert and Wally get a proper burial. With Filbert's share of the treasure, Hazel will be able at least to have material security for some time to come. Almo, now fully recovered from his blindness, escorts her back to her family's home.
Captain Belloc crosses paths with you and is glad to hear that you've cleared such a great evil out of Blackwell. "We had no idea there were undead taking over the catacombs beneath the chapel. Clearing them out should make travel at night along the road past the keep at little bit safer, at least for a while," he says.
Abbot Cuthbert is overjoyed that Gaven has recovered the Way of the Light. "This tome," he tells Gaven, "is one of the great treasures of the Church, and was long thought to be lost. No one knew if this copy even still existed. It is a miracle that you were able to recover it!"
Back at the Red Tankard, Big Sadie welcomes you warmly and is more motherly than ever to you. She stuffs you with Sal's cooking until you can't eat anymore, and hovers over you to ensure your every comfort for the first few days you're back.
As much as you enjoy her attentions, it becomes clear that you won't be staying at the Tankard indefinitely. Blackwell and other places of peril and fortune await you, and Sadie knows as well as you do that your destiny lies there.
"One thing's for sure, though" says Sadie. "Wherever your adventures may take you, you'll always have a home here at the Tankard!"
OOC: I'm going to call a close to the game here guys.
I've been wrestling with a touch of GM fatigue + some RL obligations for a while now. I had hoped my three-week break earlier this spring would let me get over that, catch my breath, and re-charge my creative batteries, but it just didn't seem to work out that way. So with a new school year about to start and with you guys having just put down a major villain, it seemed like a good time to stop.
I do want to say that I really loved running this campaign for you. You were a great group to run a game for. This was my first time back in the GM's chair in 20 years, and I was lucky to have players that operated so well together and brought such good energy to the game. This game was fun for me mostly because of your play.
When next I run a PBB, I'll definitely be inviting you guys!