Three dwarves – and one mysterious wizard who just looks like a dwarf! – sit in the study of human sage and arcanist Helmar the Learned, in the coastal city of Flussmund. They are slightly uncomfortable with Helmar’s job offer – a delve into the forbidden catacombs beneath Flussmund Castle to retrieve a gauntlet from an ancient grave. Several of the party members change their stance abruptly when Helmar reveals that it is the grave of an elf. The old man shifts in his chair, his mismatching brown leather pants and bright blue ruffled shirt wrinkled as he lounges.
“Listen, you folks will feel better when you hear the full story. You see, this elf was a great hero, a vanquisher of the undead – and Flussmund’s been having a problem with the undead of late, let me tell you! Why, even in this well-populated and -protected city, we’ve had two incidences of zombies in the streets and even a string of killings by a vampire! The Gauntlet of Telmandar was buried in the tomb of the elf bearing of that very name, deep within the catacombs beneath the hill to the northwest, when Flussmund was simply a gathering of cottages around a small wooden fort.
“Many years later, the fort was overrun and captured by a vicious warlord named Cromil the Cruel. Cromil and his monsterous army was eventually surrounded and forced to retreat into the catacombs. Unable to fully destroy the enemy, the force that retook Fort Fluss sealed the entrances to the catacombs, trapping the various monsters and evil men who followed Cromil forever beneath the surface.
“Though initially happy that the conqueror and his horrific army was defeated, many people were concerned that Cromil and his minions now lived beneath the city and held the many treasures that were stored in the catacombs. Not even a generation passed before adventuring parties began delving into what became known as the Catacombs of Cromil, defeating monsters and retrieving treasure from its depths. This continued for many years.
“One day, the residents of Flussmund felt the ground shake, and a great cloud of dust erupted from the lower entrance to the catacombs. Many of the passages collapsed, and the lower entrance was blocked by tons of fallen rock. The lord ordered the upper entrance closed, and none since has descended into the Catacombs of Cromil.
Helmar sets his mug down and leans forward to puts his hands on his knees, elbows in the air. “Now, the upper entrance is barred, and the lower entrance is collapsed. As far as anyone knows, any decendents of Cromil’s horde are long dead, and I guarantee that getting to Telmandar’s tomb would require major excavations. Even better, and here’s the real kicker, I know for a fact that the Gauntlet of Telmandar was removed from the catacombs many years before the collapse! But none of this matters, and I’ll tell you why…”