The poor weather had postponed Snorri’s funeral till nightfall, which was fortunate for Dinald and his friends. As dusk approached Uksahkka quietly steered a small boat downstream on the riverward side, toward the funeral ship, which was anchored some way out in the stream to keep away the gawpers. Theiir approach was well hidden by the mist and gathering gloom.
As they clambered aboard they noticed that the deck of the longship had been built up with planks over the old rowing benches, creating a space below decks. It appeared that the funerary treasures had been placed in this hold, as the deck was empty save for a silent, shrouded form resting atop a bier in front of the mast, surrounded by wood. A leather sack sat atop small pile of sand at the base of the bier, the glow of flame and wisps of smoke escaping from it.
A hatch at the bow of the ship led to the hold beneath the deck and was nailed shut. As Ragnar set to work Dinald examined the pyre, and saw that the bier was soaked with oil. He pulled the shroud back out of curiosity, but instead of a corpse saw only a wooden manikin.
“Odd” he thought, “Maybe the corpse is stowed below”
A pile pile of sand on the deck was hollowed out and held an urn of oil within it. A leather bag containing burning coals had been placed over the top of the urn to act as a delayed timer for the fire. As soon as the coals burned through the leather bag, they would land in the oil, igniting both it and the bier. He gulped.
“It’s open” said Ragnar, “And I think I heard chains down there.”
Climbing down revealed a cramped space with a 4-foot-high ceiling, occupied by rowing benches and bulky stacked funerary treasures.
“Ulf are you there?” called Ragnar, “We’ve been sent by Uksahkka to rescue you.” As the group moved aft behind the mast Dinald rummaged unsuccessfully for anything that looked like an expensive sword. Peering ahead in the darkness Ragnar made out a dim shape ahead.
“Ulf?” he called.
It was not Ulf, it was a shape out of nightmare. A gray corpse like face lurched forward. one eye back and the other glowing with a green balefire. Talons gripped a massive greataxe. Although chained to the mast the undead thing had sufficient reach to strike at Ragnar, catching a glancing blow but sending a chill through his body as though he had been numbed with ice. With horror Ragnar remembered the thing they had fought within the basement of Brinewall Castle.
His form dripping with reeking seawater, the undead form of Snorri One Eye snarled and gurgled as though from a throat drowning and rotten. A wasting disease indeed.
Behind Ragnar spells and arrows shot forward, and Ungo ran froward with C***slicer. Snorri’s axe dipped and fell, dealing deathlike blows which seemed to pull at the strings of their very souls. In the cramped space it was hard to overwhelm the fell creature.
Eventually, fall it did. A swing from Ungo’s axe, recently enchanted by Raine, finally knocked a leg from under it. The creature was hacked to pieces.
“No wonder the ship was moored away from land” said Rasha, " I assume Snorri’s kinsmen wanted to keep all this secret and send him down with his ship, as it were."
He grimaced in distaste as Ailukka pulled Snorri’s dark stone eye from it’s socket, a puzzled look on her face.
There was sign of neither Suishen nor Ulf below decks-only a very bulky sort of treasure in terms of furniture and household goods. Ungo licked his lips as he eyed up a rolled Katapeshian Rug, and gestured to Ragnar to give him a hand with it to the deck above.
As they fumbled back up through the hatch they suddenly realised they were not alone. Rasha started to shout but not before half a dozen arrows form crouching shapes around the rails pierced Ungo’s and his own armor. Silently the shapes reloaded and fired again, and this time the deck around the bier burst into flames.
“I really don’t like boats” thought Rasha.