The only thing left for our intrepid adventurers to do was to make it back home and claim their reward from the merchant that had sent them after the vampire making chalice. Of course, both wizards were badly spellburned, and the party halfling had wandered off.
The trip home was long and arduous, in part because the dice really hated the party last Thursday. A one week long trip ended up taking 41 days, and included eating one of the party horses.
The group (wisely) decided not to camp out in the Lost Graveyard, but spending 20+ days in the hills nearby to help out the wizards didn't free them from running into some truly dangerous random encounters.
I now must admit something. I'm a bad judge. I only say this because I lost track of exactly when and where various party members died, because there was a lot of death.
I think, but cannot swear to the fact, that the dire porcupine took the life of the graverobber/archeologist that the party found in stasis in the tomb. Chip summoned two dire porcupines of his own, cleverly thinking that he would convince the dire porcupine to make with one of them. However, he wasn't able to ascertain the dire porcupine's gender, so he summoned two dire porcupines, one male, one female, ready to mate . . . and both initially ignored the hostile dire porcupine in camp.
When the group ran into a troupe of bandits, who happened to have a night watchman kidnapped and strung up, Groot and Chip told such disturbing tales of potential inter-party murder that the bandits decided to lighten their load, throw the night watchman to the adventurers, and leave.
The party wizards were attacked by a species of vampire bat prone to attacking spellcasters, whose entrails could be studied to learn spells from the other wizards upon whom it had feasted, except that after the fight Groot ate the bat.
Eventually, the party started moving again, and on the long trek home, the group got lost . . . twice. It rained a lot. The night watchmen was killed by something. It's all very hazy. A bard joined up, having gotten lost and separated from his adventuring party as well, and then a flash flood came and killed him (character with the worst luck rolled a weather check, rolled a natural 20, and the bard failed a reflex save, a swim check, and a fortitude save).
In no particular order, on the way home, the party faced a flock of ravens drawn to the chalice's necromantic energy, as well as a swarm of carrion beetles drawn by the same. They also ran into a bear. I'm just going to say this. You may not need to use monsters in a game when you can just throw angry bears at the players.
Finally, the evil necromancer that was attempting to wrest the chalice from the Church of Death scried the party (again, bad luck check on the unluckiest member of the party, that being Groot), and a ghoul assassin came to collect the chalice. Everything gets to be a bit blurry here, but the ghoul paralyzed half the party, they gave him the chalice, Groot un-paralyzed, and killed the ghoul.
By the time the group had reached the city gates, Chip the wizard was dead, leaving only Groot the Ranger, Marcus the Cleric, and Zardock the Magnificent (Wizard) alive from the original group (well, and the halfling, wherever he wandered off to). Oh, and Marcus needs to go on a quest to heal lots of people to prove to his god that he's not abusing his talents.
Outside of the city, the party ran into two more adventurers looking for work. Always happy to find more human shields to put between themselves and danger, they recruited them, and then they promptly attacked and killed one another. I think there was another instance of an intern murdering another intern as well. As I said, it's all a blur, and my stack of 0-level characters was flying out of my hands.
In the city, the Watch cleared out when a band of adventurers challenged our heroes, a fight ensued, and Groot threw some coins at the biggest guys in the street and told them run interference for the party while they went to the merchant's mansion to collect their pay.
By the time the fight was over, I think there was another intern fatality as he turned on the party, and then one of the hired adventurers turned on the rest of the adventurers that had been hired to kill our (increasingly misnamed) heroes and joined up with them right before they made it to the mansion.
The merchant pointed out that his heirs caught wind of his bid for immortality and wanted to kill his would be saviors to claim the chalice. The adventurers sagely advised the potentially soon to be nosferatu that killing off his heirs would probably be a good thing. The party received their pay in platinum coins, and they left the mansion to rest, and to indoctrinate their new members in what would be required of them as members of teh group.