Last time, our heroes were trapped in a horrible dungeon: the science labs of a Dwarven college! They escaped and went straight to the dean, reporting the crimes inflected on them, but also admitting to damaging lots of university property and releasing a prisoner. Is honesty the best policy, or should they have kept running when they escaped the dungeon?
Dean Stanton leaps into action, giving his sub-ordinate, Over-Dean Sessions, a list of tasks (Dwarves aspire to depth, not height, so Dean outranks Over-Dean):
- Get Chief Laertes of Campus Security to track down the suspects who assaulted our heroes
- Send janitors to fix the damaged doors and restore the freezer that our heroes de-activated.
- Get a list of everything stored in the science lab building. Our heroes reported a Dwarf prisoner, which doesn’t sound right.
Our heroes wait in the Dean’s antechamber. Gleador finds some university letterhead and writes a letter of recommendation for Angus, the page at the public library. Chief Laertes arrives. He’s a serious looking Dwarf with his hair, beard, and mustache in neat braids. He’s wearing a large ceremonial helmet as a symbol of authority. It can still stop a sword, but if it’s stopping swords often, the wearer is doing something wrong. Laertes takes a statement from Lucia & Gleador. They don’t remember the names of their assailants, but have good descriptions and know that they share a class with Flint. Flint isn’t with them. He fled, probably leaving town. Laertes sends deputies to get the class roster so they can identify and arrest the two suspects. He tells our heroes not to leave town, since they are part of an ongoing investigation. He asks if they have a place to stay in town. Gleador asks if Laertes can host them. Laertes says that would be either the barracks or jail. Oh, never mind, says Gleador.
A janitor runs in out of breath, reporting that there are people in the freezer room! Two janitors had cleared the door to the freezer room, dissolving the anti-tamper glue with a chemical they keep for just that purpose. They went inside to re-activate the freezing units, but there were people lurking inside to grab them! The janitors ran out of the room and pushed a chest in front of the door to keep the grabby strangers at bay! Gleador’s player has an epiphany: there were coffins in that frozen room! The corpses have thawed out! Gleador and the janitor head back to the freezer room. Lucia takes Sessions to get another freezing unit.
Sessions leads Lucia to an outbuilding where various supplies are stored. On the way, Lucia spots a campus security guard and tells him to get some backup and head to the freezer room. Sessions is an authority figure the guard recognizes, so he agrees and runs off to gather his comrades.
Gleador and the janitor run down to the science building. It has wide halls lined with cabinets and chests. The second janitor has a large chest in front of a broken door. The top half of the door is pushed outward, and the janitor is swatting at the opening with his broom. As Gleador approaches, he sees an arm reaching out of the opening: it’s clothed in a fancy shirt and jacket, and the hand bears ornate rings, but the skin is grey and pulled tight over the bones. Peeking into the dark room through the damaged door, Gleador sees three figures. He finds an evening class in the same building and triesto recruit some students to help him build more barricades. Most students react to the news of dangerous intruders with fear, but a few punk Dwarves welcome the chance to smash up university property and get in fights. While everyone else flees the building, Gleador and his four punks construct a killbox right outside the door of the freezer room. The walls lean in, so they are hard to climb from the inside and easy to collapse from the outside. “You’ll remember this night for the rest of you lives!” says Gleador, although he’s not sure how long that will be.
Simmons and Lucia reach the supply shed and locate a freezing machine that will blow super-chilled air, and the volatile canisters of fuel the machine requires. Lucia decides to transport the canisters on a cart, to avoid the risk of dropping and breaching them. She reaches the killbox outside the freezer room around the time that the zombies break the freezer room door. There are two men in tuxedos and one woman in a nice dress, the sort of clothes people are buried in. Yeah, these are definitely the bodies in the coffins. Lucia scans for evil: 2 of the punk students, and the female zombie are evil.One of the punks says that a zombie looks like Armstrong, the famous artist, but another says that he’s been dead for 20 years. Gleador orders the punks to build another layer of defenses, so there are two walls on each side of the zombies.
Lucia asks Sessions why the college is storing zombies. A clerk arrives with the manifest for the freezer room. She would have brought the manifest earlier, but went to the Dean’s Office first, and had to be redirected here. Sessions scans the manifest and says that the zombies are listed as “tissue samples” for Professor Jenkins’ long-term research on terminal diseases. Sessions is upset by this falsification of records and threatens strong corrective measures:perhaps loss of funding, or delay of tenure! Sessions sends the clerk to summon Professor Jenkins immediately.
There are five tissue samples on the manifest, but only three zombies milling about in the kill box. Gleador remembers moving from room to room through the vents. Maybe the zombies have done the same. He takes a Janitor (Wally) and heads for the smelter room on the lower floor. He wants the punks to come along too, but they are bored. They’re not actually fighting zombies or collapsing the killbox. They wander off. Gleador and Wally have to go outside and circle around the building to reach the smelter room, since the kill box blocks the hallway. The door to the smelter room hangs open, since everyone fled the room during the last session. Wally closes and locks the doors, and they return to the killbox.
Meanwhile, Lucia and Sessions set up the freezer machine in between the inner and outer walls of the killbox and start blowing freezing air on the inner wall and the zombies. Lucia bemoans the slow response time of the campus security. Gleador & the janitor return and report that the smelter is secure. They wonder what to do next. The furniture in the inner wall of the killbox starts creaking and cracking as the freezer machine freezes it. The zombies are moving more slowly. Armstrong is scratching designs in the frost with his finger. Gleador says that if the furniture collapses on people who have terminal diseases and have been dead for 20 years, it’s no big deal. Definitely not murder.
Jenkins arrives about the same time as four campus security deputies. Jenkins arrives and Lucia grills him. Why are there zombies? Jenkins is horrified that they have been thawed. These people volunteered to be frozen until their diseases were cured. Decades of work are at risk! Lucia asks if he’s cured any diseases in the last 20 years. Well, there’s a vaccine for one. Our heroes look closer at the zombies and see sores, and other marks of infectious disease on them. Jenkins assures them that the diseases are not airborne, but they should avoid contact with the zombies. Just then, a freezing cabinet freezes enough to shatter the glass doors on the front, throwing glass shards at the zombies. The inner wall of the killbox is threatening to collapse. Lucia tries to loop a rope around the top cabinet to secure it, but it breaks and the whole wall collapses. The female zombie (identified as “Hawkins” by Jenkins) is buried by the debris, but the other two zombies are now free to enter the outer killbox, where our heroes are standing!
Lucia falls back past the outer wall. Gleador sees his exit route, but realizes that the zombies can now access and perhaps disable the freezing machine. He tries to re-direct them by telling Armstrong that there’s good art back in the freezer room. Armstrong seems to recognize his name and heads straight for Gleador. Gleador slips out.
Campus security detects danger to college personnel and property and move in to subdue the zombies. First they have to dis-assemble the outer wall of the killbox. Lucia tells them to stand down, that they could be infected by the zombies, but they don’t recognize her authority. Gleador tries again to distract Zombie Armstrong by getting paper and charcoal from his adventuring pack and throwing it towards the freezer room. Armstrong doesn’t notice. Reassuring himself again that these zombies are already dead, so it’s definitely not murder, Gleador prevents the imminent fight between campus security and zombies infected with incurable diseases by collapsing the killbox on the zombies! The collapsing wall of re-purposed furniture also smashes the freezing machine and its volatile fuel canisters. Super-cooled gas blasts outward. Gleador chooses to push the deputies out of the way instead of saving himself, and takes some cold damage. The two remaining zombies are under a pile of smashed furniture, which is covered by a thick layer of solid frost.
Two zombies are still unaccounted for. Lucia rises to her full 5’0″, eight inches taller then Jenkins, grabs him by the shoulders, and orders him to go into the freezer room and see where they are. Terrified, Jenkins flees. Gleador runs him down and grabs him. The deputies object to these outsiders threatening college personnel and order Gleador to unhand Jenkins. Gleador reminds them that he just saved them, and suggests that they escort him into the room. They agree and the five of them climb over the remains of the killbox and enter the freezer room.
Our heroes watch the door and listen. After a short pause, there’s a commotion and the four deputies run out in a panic. They report that they went to close the coffins and a zombie reached out of a coffin to grab at them. They beat it with their somnaboffers, to no effect! Our heroes are unfamiliar with somnaboffers. The deputies are holding them. They look like clubs wrapped in foam. There’s a mist coming out of the foam. Deputies use them because they put people to sleep instead of injuring them, but they don’t work on zombies! Where’s Jenkins? The deputies do a headcount and come up one short. Oh no! Our heroes hear a machine turn on inside the freezer room. Did Jenkins do that? They rush inside. There are three open, empty coffins, one closed coffin, and one open coffin with arms flailing over the rim. Apparently this zombie doesn’t have the strength to get out of the coffin. Gleador reaches out with his club and flips the lid closed. That’s all the zombies secured. Jenkins is hiding behind one of the freezer machines installed in the room. He planned to wait for the zombie to be frozen, then escape. Our heroes turn on the other freezer machine. The situation is secure. Gleador and Lucia leave the deputies to clean up and head back towards their hostel to rest for the night.
On the way back, they are stopped by one of the college-age Dwarves who shares their ten-person room in the hostel. Her name is Dolly. She has two long braids in her blonde hair, and another long braid in her beard. She doesn’t attend the Fortinbras School of Mines. She knew a guy and already has a job at a mine. She spent a day at the Fairmeadow Fair, and is visiting a friend in Templeton before continuing back to her mine in the east. She reports that people were looking for our heroes at the hostel. One guy looked like he’d been in an accident and was really tall, like Lucia’s height. He was asking for people of our heroes’ description. The other person was a suit, probably with the city. He went straight to the hotel staff and asked for Gleador and Lucia by name. Dolly thinks that the hostel is being watched. Our heroes thank her for the warning and decide to sleep outside of town. They pick a spot near the road to Fairmeadow, since they have some familiarity with that terrain. They find a hollow in the hills and Lucia casts Sanctuary around the campsite.