Clever tactics and seamless teamwork enabled the four to defeat the massive zombies, despite that fact that they proved to be more intelligent than one might assume from that sort of undead. Upon re-entering the banquet hall turned charnel house, they discovered that one of the victims was still alive, apparently spared by the luck of being at the end of the row, and by the fortuitous timing of the arrival of the four.
Fane, an elven wizard associated with Morgrave University, was on an archaeological expedition in Droaam, searching for artifacts of some sort, when he was caught up in the powerful magic that compelled all those present in Sharaat Kol to drop what they were doing and walk to the present location, underground, in order to act as meals – and possibly something else – for the undead here. Although his memory was fragmented by the physical and mental trauma, he did remember being relieved of his possessions and then being led into the hall, where the horrific feast began. Other villagers were taken elsewhere.
Deciding to recuperate before pressing deeper into the complex, the team retreated to the rough entry hall a level above, and spent a night…seemingly under the watchful eye of a powerful scrying spell from within the complex.
The next day saw them going deeper, finding a strange white crystalline room with a single eye mounted in the ceiling, and in the room beyond it an angry water elemental that attacked from within a stinking, sulfurous pond. Despite the elemental’s might, the team was able to defeat it, and on the tails of the always-impulsive Foen, pressed on through a pair of ornate bronze doors, into what seemed a central hall. At the end of the hall, sitting on a throne of ancient bones, sat the giant lich, Vordekai, the source of the scry, power behind the compulsion of the villagers to their doom, and leader of the many undead still lurking throughout the complex.
Upon coming face to face with the ancient monster, Fane’s memory returned in full: this was why he’d come to Droaam, in search of cyclopean ruins that might hold pieces of the Draconic Prophecy, carried away from Zen-Drik so many thousands of years ago when the giants fell. Legends abounded of a small population of cyclopes that made this area their home after they fled the shattered continent, likely taking with them information and artifacts that could unlock some of the secrets lost for millennia. Among this population one name stood out in the most esoteric histories, known to researchers who knew where to look, and how to decode the ancient scripts: Vordekai, possibly a wizard or sorcerer, and overlord of the cyclopes for many years until his overthrow by Dhakaani hobgoblins. The best histories indicated that he had been defeated, and along with some of his followers imprisoned in a secret location. Imprisoned, it was now clear; destroyed…not quite.
Arko!, although not privy to the ancient knowledge of which Fane was an expert, also reacted to the sight of the lich, feeling more than any other member of the party the waves of necromantic energy surrounding and flowing from the massive creature. This being had been a master of arcane power in life; and now in undeath, could well be almost invulnerable. This was going to be a fight like nothing any of the men had ever fought, one they could easily lose. All their skill, teamwork, and experience might mean nothing without healthy doses of luck and discretion.