Learning that Dak'Wi lived nearby and was Ver'Kusi's closest friend in life, the party decided that the best course of action would be to go and speak with him. The half-elf mage, having cast his spell for the day and enjoying a few drinks with his charmed gnome friend, stayed behind in the inn, but a red headed traveling swordswoman tagged along with the party to make up for the loss.
Approaching Dak'Wi's farm, the party noticed that it looked to be a bit lusher and better maintained than some of the neighboring farms. It seemed that this old man was a superior farmer as both clerics of the Mule opined . . . at great length . . . while referring to statistical analyses and charts that they both had stashed, presumably, in the sleeves of their robes. The rest of the party had learned, by this point, to stuff cotton in their ears at such junctures and soldier on quietly.
As they crested a small rise, they found Dak'Wi himself waiting for them while mounted on an older looking horse, waiting to meet them before they got too close. Undeterred and determined to embark on a preliminary recon, one of the clerics broke off and began to circle the house, muttering to himself while everybody else treated with the old man.
Where the negotiations with the gnomes had been rife with intimidation (a six foot tall paladin with hand on the hilt of his long sword towering over you with overt exclamations of disapproval and readiness to slaughter you out of hand), negotiations with Dak'Wi were, in comparison, remarkably polite. When informed of the situation, that hostages had been taken and that, it seemed, his old friend was at the root cause of it, Dak'Wi was sympathetic and said that, indeed, the two had been adventuring companions many years ago. Ovini/Ver'Kusi, he said, was quite good at getting his hands on treasures and of doing so quietly and stealthily, and that from time to time, he would do so even if it meant taking it out of the hands of its rightful owners. Indeed, he does know that Ovini came away from their time with the gnomes quite a bit richer, but he had learned well before then not to ask about such mysterious windfalls. That it was stolen is not overly surprising.
However, what had this to do with him? Dak'Wi, as was clearly apparant by his plain dress and simple home, had none of the treasury himself and he had buried his friend with all his worldly posessions not 6 months ago. If it were not for the assiduous politeness of the Paladin and others, the situation would have devolved into a bloody conflict next. It was clear that the only thing for it was to enter the crypt and reclaim the treasury to return to the gnomes, loathe though they might be to disturb the rest of any man. In the end, Dak'Wi agreed to lead them to the crypt as long as they promised not to disturb his friend's rest any more than was neccessary in order to protect the lives of the innocents.
While this conversation went on, the fellow who had wandered around the house and been largely ignored since he was assumed to be sick or insane found himself behind the house and spotted a few shapes moving at the edges of his vision, seemingly observing the house. Unsure of their purpose, he scrawled a message in the dirt on the ground warning the figures away from the place, that the old man was insane and dangerous. He then proceeded to rejoin the group.
About this time, an older, grizzled outdoorsman approached and seemed more interested in speaking with the old man's horse than any of the humans. In the end, he learned from the horse that these were adequately ok folks and so he decided to join them on their little adventure. (Another new player)
The old man led them to the edge of a small thicket of trees and said that the crypt was straight ahead, no more than a few minutes' walk. He would not be going with them as he had long ago retired from adventuring life. After all, as he pointed out, he had left no traps and there were no monsters there when h e first buried his friend 6 months ago, so it should be perfectly safe.
The crypt was easily found, and after several minutes of checking for stonework traps or hidden doors (the dwarf) or mechanical traps (the gnome thief er . . cleric, yeah that's the ticket!), the party bashed at the door to remove the lead and, with great glee, the two clerics of the Mule put their engineering skills to work and removed the doors from the hinges rather than letting the gnome attempt to unlock them. Inside, they discovered that the place was a little larger than they had anticipated.
Realizing they had found the sarcophagus of Ver'Kusi and his 6 faithful hunting dogs, the party employed not just a little meta-gaming knowledge and prepared for a fight. The paladin, after glaring at the sarcophagus for a minute, declared that it was evil and dangerous. Nevertheless, he was the one to pry the lid off and look inside. There, indeed, was the gnomish treasury, along with a decaying corpse with the words "May the Gods forgive me." carved into the coffin, and two leatherbound books. Realizing there was nothing else for it, the paladin reached in and took the sword, and was immediately attacked by an evil undead Shadow.
The group squared off against the shadow while one of the clerics of the Mule tried to flee, but his escape was cut off by six zombie dogs that had risen from their coffins to attack. In a feat of uncharacteristic heroics, or merely suicidal tendancies, the cowardly cleric threw himself bodily at the dogs in a bid to buy time for his companions. And was promptly devoured for his trouble.
The battle was long and hard fought, but in the end, the group emerged victorious without too many injuries. They removed the treasury as well as the two books and brought them back to town to discover that the gnomes had already brought the hostages back in anticipation of the trade. Despite the fact that a significant portion of the treasure was missing, the gnomes determined to leave without further pressing the claim as the paladin reminded them that they had been taking hostages and he was prepared to start shortening gnomes by a head if need be. It was decided that the missing portion be considered weregild in compensation for the inconvenience suffered by the families of this town and that the gnomes would leave in peace, never to return the next morning.
Afterward, the learned members of the party examined the two books. The first was a plain, leatherbound folio with a brief account of adventures that Ovini and his friends had near the Obakasek Jungle, hot on the trail of a rumored treasure cache, complete with map, but they were turned back by humanoid tribes and a druid who did not take kindly to their pilfering ways. The other was a higher quality book with a rune or pictograph of some sort on the cover. Much puzzeling over it revealed that it was an historical symbol, but of what nobody could say, and the half-elf magic user was able to chime in and say that it appeared to be High Elven pictographic writing. What it said he had no clue.