The Bandit Barrow [Canon, Recap]

Tales are told – some true and others not. But anyone coming upon the Keep would have overheard the tale of the Bandit Barrow.

As the weary traveler entered the dimly lit inn, the cold wind of the desolate wilderness still clinging to his cloak, he found himself a corner table and settled in. The innkeeper, a burly man with a scarred face, brought him a tankard of ale and some bread, and left him to his thoughts. The room was filled with the low hum of murmured conversations and the crackling of a fire in the hearth. It was a place of shadows and secrets, a sanctuary for those who wandered the lonely roads of the wilderness.

As the traveler sipped his ale, an old man with a long, gray beard and a tattered cloak took a seat across from him. His eyes gleamed with a spark of ancient knowledge, and his voice, though soft, carried the weight of countless tales.

“Ah, a new face in these parts,” the old man said, his voice barely audible over the din of the inn. “You must be weary from your journey. Allow me to regale you with a tale, one that has been whispered in these lands for many a year. A tale of the Bandit Barrow.”

The traveler nodded, intrigued, and leaned in to listen.

“Long ago, in the heart of the Deadfens, there stood a barrow, ancient and foreboding. It was said to be the final resting place of a warrior captain of the Duchy of Arik and his loyal monk aide, followers of the venerated St. Iseryn. The barrow, however, did not lie undisturbed. It became the lair of a band of brigands, ruthless and feared by all who traveled the Keepsway North.”

The old man’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, and the traveler found himself drawn deeper into the story.

“These brigands were no ordinary men. They were the risen dead, the ancient soldiers of the barrow, animated by a dark grimoire and an unholy ritual performed by their master. This master, a figure shrouded in mystery, sought the forbidden knowledge to summon and control the dead. It was this grimoire that bound them to their unholy existence, making them relentless hunters of flesh.”

“Yet, fate had other plans. For within the barrow lay not only treasure but also a terrible curse. The dark magic of the grimoire corrupted the very ground of the barrow, causing the skeletal remains of the ancient soldiers to rise. After a group of adventurers slew a carcass crawler in the depths of the Deadfens, its yellow and purple flesh mysteriously adhered to the skeletons, making them even more grotesque. These undead guardians, driven by the dark ritual, waged war upon the living, their former comrades now mindless beasts seeking to sate an insatiable hunger.”

The old man paused, his eyes flickering to the fire before he continued. “The dark power of the grimoire reached beyond the barrow, twisting the land itself. It even raised an ancient treant from the nearby forest, turning it into a monstrous guardian of the cursed land. Its roots and branches, once a symbol of life, became harbingers of death, attacking any who dared to approach.”

The fire crackled louder, casting eerie shadows on the walls, as the old man continued his tale.

“It was said that the sounds of battle echoed through the marshes for days, and when the din finally ceased, the barrow lay silent once more. The brigands had vanished, their fate sealed within the tomb as the undead guardians they had become. But the curse lingered, spreading darkness and death, a consequence of the grimoire’s malevolent power. Those brave or foolish enough to venture near the barrow claimed to hear the whispers of the damned, and the mournful wails of the spirits trapped within.”

The traveler shivered, feeling a chill that had nothing to do with the cold outside. He leaned closer, his curiosity piqued.

“And what of the grimoire?” he asked. “Did it truly possess such power?”

The old man chuckled, a sound like dry leaves rustling in the wind.

“Ah, the grimoire. It is said that it remains hidden within the barrow, guarded by the restless dead – and a statue of formidable power. Many have sought it, lured by tales of its dark power, but none have returned. Yet, there were a few adventurers, bold and cunning, who dared to seek out the barrow’s secrets. They faced the undead with steel and spell, uncovering traps and battling the foul creatures that lurked in the shadows. An animated statue stands at the entrance of the barrow ready to attack intruders. Adventurers did reach the master’s quarters but could not enter. What they saw and experienced there shattered their minds. Only one escaped to tell the tale, and he was never the same.”

With that, the old man rose, smiling knowingly. He placed a gnarled hand on the traveler’s shoulder and smirked.

“Remember this tale, wanderer, as you tread the lonely paths of the wilderness. Not all who seek treasure find fortune, and some doors are best left unopened.”


On Queen’s Day, the 23rd of the Empress, the sun rose pale and wan over the grim battlements of Keep Bleakheard, casting long shadows that seemed to cling to the earth like dark memories. The keep itself, a forbidding fortress of stone and bronze, stood as a sentinel at the edge of the Deadfens, a desolate expanse whispered to be cursed by a forgotten age. From its gates emerged four figures: Liam Rock-Thorn, a warrior whose stern visage bore the mark of countless battles; Strayer, known to his companions as Stray, a monk of lithe build and quick wit; Fern, an elven spellsword with eyes that mirrored the green depths of the ancient forests; and Tholokk, a towering half-orc barbarian whose very presence exuded a palpable menace.

Their mission: to plumb the depths of the bandit-ridden barrow mounds that lay at the accursed Deadfens’ edge. The promise of gold and glory spurred them onward, their hearts steeled against the dangers that lay ahead.

The Keepsway, a winding path that snaked through the wilderness, beckoned them northward. Tall grass swayed in the breeze, whispering secrets of old as the adventurers trudged forward. A tiger’s predatory gaze tracked their movements from the shadows, but sensing the formidable resolve of the group, it slunk away, seeking easier prey.

As they journeyed, the landscape grew increasingly desolate, the air heavy with a sense of foreboding. The Thorny Vine Inn, once a beacon of hospitality, now stood shuttered and forlorn, a silent testament to the bandit raids that had ravaged the area. There, they found Marji, a woman transformed by hardship. Once a mere barmaid, she had become the fierce leader of the Thorny Vine mercenaries. Her eyes, hardened by loss and kindled with the fires of vengeance, met theirs with a resolute gaze.

“I have three men willing to join you,” Marji said, her voice a low, determined growl. “They know the way to the barrow and the dangers that lurk within. We seek justice for our fallen and a share of whatever riches you may find.”

The bandit barrow rose from the earth like a malignancy, its entrance yawning like the maw of some great beast. The very ground seemed to shudder beneath their feet as they approached, driven by tales of bandits in pale white masks—faces of skeletal fiends beneath their hoods. The air grew colder, the shadows deeper, as they descended into the barrow’s cold, damp depths.

The labyrinthine passages twisted and turned, their oppressive silence broken only by the distant, echoing clatter of bones. Their torches cast flickering light upon ancient stone walls, revealing carvings of forgotten lore and grim warnings. The air reeked of decay and ancient malice, a tangible presence that seemed to claw at their very souls.

In the heart of the mound, they encountered a scene of macabre stillness: skeletons, their eyeless sockets staring blankly into the abyss. Among them fluttered a tiny figure—a pixie named Alfwine, bound by dark magic. The little creature, its wings tattered and eyes filled with fear, was rumored to possess the power to restore flesh to the skeletal remains. Alfwine was then freed from its chains.

Their quest took a dire turn as a monstrous slug-like abomination slithered from the shadows, its maw gaping wide with a hunger that defied reason. With a swift, horrifying gulp, it devoured Liam whole, his cries muffled by the creature’s insidious innards. The remaining trio fought valiantly, their blades singing through the air with deadly precision.

At last, the abomination fell, its grotesque form collapsing into a pool of foul ichor. With grim determination, they cut open its belly, reclaiming their comrade from the creature’s nightmarish embrace. Within its entrails, they found a cache of treasures: the digested body of an individual wearing plate armor, an amulet of unknown purpose, its surface etched with arcane symbols, and a set of silver gauntlets that shimmered with a faint, otherworldly light.

Weary but triumphant, they returned to Keep Bleaksheard, where two weeks of much-needed respite awaited them. Strayer, ever resourceful, sought out a sage to unravel the mysteries of the silver gauntlets, discovering their minor but intriguing magical properties. To earn his keep, he turned to the culinary arts at Orban’s Griffon Inn, concocting a hearty stew from the remains of the carcass crawler. The patrons, initially skeptical, soon found themselves entranced by the rich, savory aroma of his Below the Knees Soup.

Fern, ever the kind-hearted, found companionship in a stray dog that wandered into the keep’s courtyard. The bond they formed was immediate and unbreakable, the druid’s gentle nature soothing the creature’s wary soul. Tholokk, meanwhile, sought favor with the shadowy organization known as The Skillful Hands, meeting the enigmatic halfling Terix. Their conversations were cloaked in secrecy, their dealings shrouded in mystery.


Three weeks had passed. Liam Rock-Thorn, still recovering from his wounds, rallied the adventurers once more. The barrow mound loomed in the distance, its ancient, malignant presence unaltered. The landscape, haunted by the specters of past horrors, seemed to welcome their return with a chill wind that whispered through the Deadfens.

As they neared the edge of the cursed marsh, a lone skeleton stood sentinel, its dark robes flapping in the wind like a death shroud. The creature’s hollow eyes locked onto them, a silent testament to the barrow’s eternal guardianship. With the swiftness of a falcon diving for its prey, the adventurers sprang into action. Father Alfrick, a cleryman, flashed his warhammer, and the skeleton crumbled into a heap of lifeless bones.

The barrow’s entrance yawned before them, a maw of stone and shadow. Inside, the air was thick with the scent of decay, and the corridors seemed narrower, the shadows darker. Their footsteps echoed ominously as they revisited the stone sarcophagus room. Father Alfrick, the cleric, studied the warrior relief on the slab, his eyes reflecting the flickering torchlight. The sentinel from a bygone era seemed to watch them, a guardian of secrets long buried.

John E. Diamond, the ever-curious bard, could not resist the lure of the unknown. He licked the glowing powder left behind by the pixie dust. For a brief, wondrous moment, he levitated, his robes billowing like a sorcerer’s cloak in the wind. His companions watched with a mix of amusement and concern, wondering what other arcane mischief he might conjure next.

Their exploration led them to a swollen door, its wooden surface warped by time and moisture. Shayna, a pallid elf with a strength that belied her slender frame, forced it open with a mighty shove. Inside, a room shrouded in mold greeted them. Three tapestries hung on the walls, their once-vibrant colors faded: one gold, one depicting the warrior from the sarcophagus, and one of a monk in solemn prayer.

Shayna’s keen eyes spotted a hidden pull chain behind the monk tapestry. With a satisfying click, the wall behind the warrior tapestry collapsed, revealing a hidden alcove. The golden tapestry, however, harbored a deadly secret. As Shayna reached for it, yellow mold spores billowed into the air. Father Alfrick, with a swift incantation, burned the mold away, revealing a cup filled with fifty gold coins and a golden serpent buckle.

Elrick, the wizard, felt a surge of powerful magic emanating from behind the warrior tapestry. There, they found a hidden chamber housing a life-sized stone statue holding a brazier with a blue flame and three large gems. The statue’s empty eye sockets seemed to bore into their souls, as if judging their worthiness. Moving north, they stumbled upon another room, this one teeming with at least ten skeletons. A swift stab from a rusty dagger found Shayna, but she slammed the door shut, trapping the skeletal horde within.

The cacophony of their banging echoed through the corridors, drawing the attention of a carcass crawler. John E. Diamond, with a flourish and a shout, cast a thunderous spell. The creature, disoriented and pained, fled into the darkness.

The group paused, reconsidering a move deeper into the barrow. It was decided they’d return to Keep Bleakheard, and so, several days later, the adventurers pressed on.

Reentering the barrow, they instead turned left and just beyond an empty, cob-webbed room, discovered an undead treant standing within a vile pool of dark water. Its gnarled limbs, animated by dark sorcery, reached out with malevolent intent, hissing, “RETURN TO THE GRAVE, YOU!” Its tortured shouts intended for the animated bones and fleshed ones the adventurers were not.

With quick reflexes, they fled, but their path led them into another ambush. Zombies and skeletons lurked in the shadows. A fierce melee ensued, their blades clashing with the undead horrors. In the chaos, they discovered six traveling merchants, chained, and being moved from a prison into the Master’s quarters. Cutting the chains that controlled the undead, they freed the merchants, who wept with gratitude.

The party agreed to depart the barrow, but in a moment of reckless curiosity, they decided to place the glass eyes into the statue’s sockets while on their way out. The statue sprang to life, its stone limbs grinding into motion with a sound like distant thunder. The adventurers, realizing their folly, made a strategic retreat. Quick thinking and nimble feet saved them from the relentless pursuit of the animated stone sentinel.

The rescued merchants, their voices trembling, spoke of a figure known as ‘the Master’. His experiments with dragonroot from a ruined inn had ended in grotesque failure. The root, infused with ancient energies, had caused a captain’s ribcage to burst open, releasing vile yellow mold.

Ten days have passed since these harrowing events. It is now noon on Knight’s Day, the 14th of the Hierophant. The Scrublands, despite it being summertime, are cold and wet, a persistent drizzle chilling the air. The adventurers have returned to Keep Bleaksheard, their minds heavy.

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