We met four of our heroes;
*El-Sarji, the Goliath fighter, raised by a dwarven couple as their own, running the local blacksmith and his tab at the tavern, acting as the local go-to guy despite only being a guard not the actual head guard
*Charizard, the Dragonborn cleric, adopted by the same couple after being rescued from a runaway cart that went off a cliff, lazing about and setting things on fire wantonly
*Phei, the lone Genasi artificer, left in this town with the death of his elven "mother", scavenging for cheap bits to make his bogus creations for cons to fund his real experiments
*Thoroun, the soul-searching wilden hunter, watching the people who come and go through the town looking for some purpose in the ways of people, hunting to earn his keep and helping keep watch over the town
They know each other well; the goliath and the artificer have had small clashes before when the goliath's artisan pride caused him to confiscate "bullshit quality" weapon-like devices or protective pieces he'd tried peddling off; however, he was not without mercy - or perhaps pity - for the "lesser wayward craftsman", often "accidentally" discarding some good bits of metal or small gemstones for the scavenger. It was not an ill regard between them, but some minor bit of professional resentment, really.
We find our heroes living in the town of Haven, a crossroads market town in the center of the land. This normally bustling town has been increasingly quiet over the last few weeks, cutting into business and busy time, leaving the heroes... in the tavern.
On a stereotypically dramatically stormy night, the peace of drinking and devouring good food was suddenly interrupted by a man bursting in, sliding on the slick wet wooden floor and falling on his face, rambling about "It's all wrong, they took him, oh god!"
This man was revealed to be a young official messenger, as discovered by the emblem of the nation woven into his jacket. He told them how he was from the town to the north, Armskeep, and that they'd been receiving reports from travellers that the town of Haven had an unnatural, discomforting "feeling" to it, and he had been sent with his friend "Robbie", the son of that town's mayor and his escorting guard, to investigate. He said they had been investigating the local graveyard and crypt, which is a popular place to be buried even by those from outside the town, when "they rose up, and, oh god, they took Robbie!", begging for help to rescue him.
The artificer, concerned because his mother is buried in the local graveyard, took off instantly to check that her grave was undefiled, then checked the mausoleum, noting that the lanterns on the sides of the door were lit, and inside, the large stone prep table had been knocked from its stand; the other three, after hearing out the messenger, agreed to help him - though they're quite sure he's just panicked or delirious (perhaps from drink or lack of sleep) and there's a perfectly rational explanation; likely, Robbie just wandered off and this poor messenger freaked out when he couldn't find his friend.
While investigating his mother's grave, the artificer had nearly been slammed in the head with a huge oak branch; while he had dismissed it as the wind, the hunter noted it when they reached the place, after the goliathh had tripped over the grave and landed on his face.
The hunter investigated the fallen limb while the dragonborn laughed at his fallen brother - and suddenly took a rock to the side of the head for it, though not at the goliath's doing; the artificer, coming over, instantly spotted the culprit at the same time as the hunter - a ratty lizard man (kobold) in a tree above them, preparing his slingshot with another shot. There would be none of that, the two preparing their weapons to shoot him down!
The storm skewed every shot the skilled hunter made, even almost hitting the artificer in the back of the head at one point; the artificer managed his shots more readily, but the kobold seemed determined, even charged at them and slammed its daggers into the hunter's shoulder. But the two overwhelmed the bugger, and it made a run for the crypt, taking a finally crippling shot to the ass that knocked him out. Investigating its body, the artificer found a small ragged sack and a rolled letter - an odd thing on the local kobolds, seeing they're not particularly literate; he also noted that the gear on this creature was far better than it should be for a scavenger. Suspicious!
Meanwhile, the two brothers, not really caring about the kobold menace, went into the crypt with the messenger to look for Robbie. Wandering in the dark, the dragonborn walked straight into an open sarcophagus that closed behind him. Forcing his way out, a swarm of dozens of rats assaulted his feet! His brother swatted at the swarm, but that only seemed to make them angry, and they rushed at him despite the dragonborn setting their mob on fire; the flaming rats then rat up the goliath, fell from his slick scale armor, and, due to the heigh difference between the brothers, fell into the pants of the dragonborn, scratching him up in uncomfortable places and leaving him feeling nauseous for it. The dragonborn healed himself, and his brother slammed his prized waraxes down repeatedly on the rodents, decapping the last of them and leaving their bodies twitching on the floor - and discovering the very cowardly messenger twitching behind the overturned table.
The other two joined them, the artificer cracking his giant glowstick (sunrod) to provide light, and the four ventured inward through the door that the dragonborn had just missed when walking into the next room, the chamber for preparations. In here, they found piles of ripe bodies, indicating at least 3 or 4 days since the undertaker last tended to his work; one of the piles suddenly started moving. The dragonborn, despite protests from the others that it could be Robbie moving from within the bodies, set the pile of corpses on fire; and from them, emerged the Ghoul!
The undead lumbered forward, swiping its claws at the offending dragonborn without regarding that its former garments were burning away from it. The dragonborn adeptly ducked away from the claw, then in the other way from its other claw as his brother rushed in to assist! ...and leaned right into one of the goliath's axes. The other axe, however, connected mightily with the Ghoul, taking its arm clear off, and a shot from the artificer sent its head spinning on its neck! The Ghoul... bit down on the goliath's shoulder for it, leaving the spot feeling stiff, but the cherish scale armor prevented its teeth from drawing blood.
The hunter fired into the fray, but concern of hitting his friends seemed to hold him back. The Ghoul, not capable of expressing any concern, reached up with its good arm and righted its own head, biting down at the goliath again, but his trusty armor proved just too thick for it. The artificer, seemingly having no particular regard for his companions, fired at the Ghoul without hesitation, sending its own deteriorated eyeball through the back of its head; still, it did not fall. Taking some inspiration from that strike, the goliath brought his axes down from either side and took the creature's head off its neck - and sliced its head in half in the process, no less.
They barely had time to sigh a breath of relief, when the various coffins in the room had their lids start shaking, as if something was trying to emerge. Realizing something big and unnatural is really afoot and needing time to catch their breath and regroup, the goliath bodily grabbed the messenger and hoisted him over his shoulder as the four rushed back out. He and his brother grabbed either end of the ruined preparation table, carrying the huge stone slab out with them and using it to block off the crypt door to prevent any of the trouble from following them out and threatening the townsfolk.
Meanwhile, the origin and whereabouts of the fifth "hero":
Your character is an Eladrin (high elf) wizard, with a particular affinity for death magics, necromantic interests, and the element of ice. While most of your kin merely look down on the other races for being so preoccupied with trivial things such as mortality (high elves are incredibly long lived) and things that only last a short while, you outright view other humanoids as expendable, to the extent your research and practices started making even other eladrin a bit uncomfortable.
Your mentor comissioned you to the town of Haven when it was still young and being settled almost a full century ago. He insisted the little crossroad mercantile community was where you were destined to find the key to your true power, and without such your potential would never be unlocked, so you must not leave there until you find it.
In the early years, you were more eager, constantly watching the market and travellers in hope of findind such a source of power and making it yours by hook or by crook. As the years went on, though, the town has been slowly wearing on you, with little exposure to others of your race or even other "immortal" races, and your sanity has been slipping a little.
Briefly, for a few of the recent years, you'd found peace in the form of a young human woman who eventually became your wife; alas, she passed tragically while still relatively young from a relatively unknown disease, crushing your spirit and sanity with her death, spending much of your amassed wealth to ensure her a good burial and a place in the depths of the crypts.
However, it was at her burial earlier in the year that you finally found your breakthrough. The crypt, indeed the entire graveyard, you realized, was far older than the town itself. Your research proved your theory, determining that the place had been used by older races for long before the humans even came to the region, and that there was once a very powerful moon elf (a respected cousin race of the eladrin) who had lived and was buried in this very town, that had mastered death, rising as a lich that required an entire batallion to take down so the area could be purged and settled.
You are sure, so very sure, that if you could just break into the innermost chamber of the crypt to reach his coffin, and retrieved his phlactery, it would be both the powerful artifact you need to return home with to finally advance in the mystical arts... and you could harness some of its power to bring back your precious wife.
The storms of late proved a good cover, and you've been frequenting the graveyard. However, the local guard, including the master smith of the town, started to grow suspicious. Not wanting any interruptions, you paid off a local band of kobolds to stir up trouble around the graveyard, to keep attention away from you.
Tonight, you made the biggest leap in progress; you've found several incantations of necromantic power that translate to directions towards the lich's place of rest. You had to dispose of the undertaker, but he was an old human, it was practically a mercy, sparing him what few tedious years there still were for him anyways. He was in the way, and what is important, is that you get that phalactry.
Hmm. There's been strange sounds behind you as you go. No matter, you reached the hall that leads to the innermost chamber, you just have to break the runes on the door...
...oh, dear, you just read two of them backwards. Well, what's the worst that could- ...that's a big shockwave spell. Oh, that's gonna hurt, you better- [fade to black]
After making a hasty retreat from the Crypt/Graveyard to go lick their wounds and rest, blockading the entrance to the Crypt with the huge slab of stone from the preparation table to prevent anything no longer living from following them out.
Rationing that this was something unnatural and likely magical in nature, the group went off to the local wizard's house to ask for his aid, but found the crazy eladrin was nowhere to be found; in fact, there were signs no one had been home in a few days. No ones to waste the opportunity, El-Sarji and Charizard decided to ransack the mage's house, with Charizard wandering into the mage's living quarters and trying to force open the grand armoire in the room. However, his efforts resulted in a painful barrage of ice assaulting him from an arcane trap worked into the lock, so they decided a new tactic was necessary - they were going back to the Crypt, this time with the intent of finding the wizard and strong-arming him into handing over the key to his dresser!
Heading back to the graveyard, Thoroun noticed movement in the bushes, warning that it could be another kobold bandit. Phei, wasting no silly time with a plan, pulled out one of his alchemical concoctions and threw it at the bushes, setting them on fire with the blast and corroding the cemetery gate, warping the bars. The kobolds - four of them in total - emerged from the bushes; one taking off in a wild panic, the other three jumping to the assault.
The kobolds fought hard and with odd determination for mere bandits, but eventually were all immolated. El-Sarji briefly went to examine the bodies, but kept hesitating from the smoldering heat coming from the corpses and their chain armor. They decided to press on, the ever impatient artificer doing flaming body slams on the stone barricade to force his way through without waiting for the heavy lifters, farting out a devastating flame on a kobold who tried to assault him as he ran off; the hunter, in a dazzling display, shot one on the ground point blank in the back of the head.
Meanwhile, the wizard, having been passed out in the crypt from setting off a trap worked into the arcane runes of the final door, awoke to the sounds of the combat outside and made his way back, reaching the preparation room right as Phei stumbled in and landed at his feet, resulting in finding himself staring up at the hooded figure.
Thoroun, not familiar with the mage, drew his bow, but the artificer caught a glimpse of the crazy eladrin's face under his hood and assured the wilden that he was the associate they were looking for. El-Sarji promptly demanded that the mage turn over the key for his amoire; the wizard surprisingly agreed, but only if they headed to the last door of the crypt with him and helped force it open, for he was not strong enough to pry it himself.
As the headed down into the deeper region of the crypt, they were met by a small horde of zombies and a skeletal guard. The battle was accented in a flash of snow from a failed spell by the wizard and several pulses of fire from the artificer as the group culled back the undead; the artificer, however, had an entirely different experience. Having been bitten and infected by one of the undead, his natural flames turned black as he tripped out, seeing the world like a lava lamp at a disco part, everything turning into crazy shapes and colors - even trying to tackle the cleric at one point, mistaking him for a snowman. There was talk of mercy killing him just as he broke out of the effect.
The mage warned there maaaaay be a big bad angry undead guardian blocking the way to the final chamber, leaving some suspicions about himself as they headed forward.
And indeed there was - Flameskull the giant flaming skeletal guardian loomed over them, spraying them in a molten blast and cutting at them with his oversized weapon and teeth. In a stunning display of prowess, the hunter managed to break through the bone of the guardian's right leg with his volley of arrows, knocking it down onto one "knee"; they whittled him down, and El-Sarji finally lopped its head off its shoulders, then split its skull in half in mid-air.
While the others considered the battle at its end, leaving Thoroun searching the room after claiming the giant copper helmet that had fallen from the guardian's head and the artificer glancing over at the runes on the archway as the mage went off that way - it had crept open with the guardian's fall; El-Sarji and Charizard seemed to have decided to go through with ending the artificer's life after all, the warrior slashing his back up the already heavily wounded artificer's back. Before Charizard could end the other man's life with a sacred flame, however, Thoroun threw himself in the way, defending the artificer and demanding that they cease; El-Sarji consented, and the two brothers went off back to town.
During the scuffle, the mage had slipped ahead unnoticed into the small resting chamber of the lich's phylactery. Overcome with the prospects of finally having an artifact powerful enough to warrant being allowed to return home, the eldarin grabbed for it without hesitation; when touched, however, the ruby skull seemingly dissipated with a flash of bright red light and glistening sparkles, the entirety of the crypt shaking violently for a prolonged moment, then... nothing. The others unperturbed and the mage disappointed, they headed outside.
The sight that greeted them, was a translucent ghastly woman on a flaming skeletal horse hovering over the crypt, the ruby skull tucked under her arm as she laughed, proclaiming that she was free at last and the day was hers again! All around them, arms and legs started to protrude from the earth as the dead became to rise!
So ended the tale in Haven