When Ragnar woke he felat much better; the aroma of a thick stew wafted towards him, and Sandru offered him a bowl and one of the flat breads Vankor had made while they were asleep. He saw that Dinald was reading an old diary or jounal.
“Listen to this”, he said. “It’s the diary of someone called Andril Kortun”.
“From the Dragon Helm you brought back” interrupted Sandru, “I would say that was the dad man you fought. He was the Commander of the Castle, and the Dragon Helm was a badge of office. I saw a picture of it when I was reading up on Brinewall.”
“Commander Kortun, right,” continued Dinald. “Anyway he says that the castle had been overrun by men dressed in black, and they had surprised and kileld ,most of the Garrison. He and a few others were holed up in the east tower to make a last stand. They were going to light a beacon on top, but didn’t have much hope of it being noticed. Then it all gets splattered with blood…..”
Ragnar listened, but shivered at the recollection of the dead mans eyes,his bone chilling touch. He did not like the undead.
“Let’s finish this now, while there’s still a few hours daylight " suggested Reynald. All were agreed and once more the group headed towards the castle, Ragnar walking quietly at the rear.
After half an hour or so they re-entered the forbidding structure. There appeared to be no sign of life. Ragnar did not find this particularly reassuring.
Heading left into the Troglodyte room, they headed down a narrow set of stairs which spiraled round and eventually re-emerged into what appeared to be a den-the troglodyte stink was everywhere, and there was evidence of food remains on some old tables. All seemed deserted however.
Checking a door on the eastern wall led to another empty den, and an old armory with a few pieces of armour and crossbows still in good condition. There was also a obox of Alchemist’s Fires, which the group distributed. Checking a few empty rooms and natural caverns to the north, west and east, they eventually saw light spilling from beneath a set of wooden doors to the east of a cistern room.
Checking along another corridor to the north of this they surmised that another door along that might lead into the same room. Splitting into tow groups they shoved both doors open, and rushed in to see a large ogre staring at them, wielding a portion of an old tree trunk in one hand.
Forward they charged, but not before a swipe of the club sent Dinald flying through the air with a resounding crack. Ungo’s axe and the blades of the others hacked and chopped att he creature, and its next swing fortunately went wildly astray: it did not get a third chance.
Within this chamber were a number of cells, and in one of these stood a tall Ulfen woman, her clothes in tatters, silently glowering at the group. She said nothing, but reynald picked up a bunch of keys, and undid the cell door. The woman nodded at Reynald, and walked out.
“I am Kelda Oxgutter, of the Haerling Clan. I thank you for your rescue.” Walking over to a pile of arms in the corner, she started to pull these on. Ragnar looked at reynald and raised his eyebrows. Reynald shrugged.
Suitably armed and armed she hefted her shield and nodded. “I am with you while we are in this place” she volunteered shortly.
Rasha had been checking around meanwhile and noticed something odd about the eastern wall. Feeling along it he pressed a stone and heard a click: a portion of the wall swung outwards.
“This way?” he suggested. It led into a pitch back natural cavern, and so stealth was out of the question as Ailkukka and Spivey provided illumination with their spells. The passage twisted eastwards into a larger cavern.
A shimmering movement of air, and a woman appeared: beautiful but severe, with strange blue skin and long white hair. She pointed solemnly at the group.
“This place is not for the living, and I guard the dead. You must turn back from this place” she intoned in a clear voice.
Dinald appeared to be about to say something inappropriate when Ailukka jabbed him in his wounded ribs.
“That” she said, “is an image of Pharisma-the Guardian of the Dead.” The group hesitated and started discussing what they should do next.
Rasha meanwhile had noticed a corridor leading off to the south, and had slipped along this as far as the range of the groups illumination would allow. This led to a roughly circular cavern, only dimly lit. Inside were two halves of some leathery looking ovoid shape.
“An egg?” he thought, “But of what?” a sixth sense told him to look up and his question was answered. Clinging or hovering up near the ceiling were a pair of malevolent eyes,and he had the impression of a large number of writhing, tenticular arms. There was a bright flash, and a ray of flame shot down and seared his cheek, scorching the stone nearby. Without hesitation he fled.
“Look ouutt”" he shouted as he dashed into the main cavern, and seconds later the air assumed a greasy, acrid quality, and everyone in the group doubled over in pain, a tingling pain inflicting their skin and their insides. Spivey held up her symbol to Desna and chanted one of her healing prayers, as the horror rushed along the ceiling of the corridor towards them. The image of Pharisma appeared frozen in mid sentence.
Reynald nocked one of the four magical arrows they had found earlier, and fired it at the beast. It squealed in a shrill high pitched voice as the shaft hit hard. “Use the magical arrows” he cried.
The creature stayed out of melee range and shot gouts of flame at Ragnar. He was wounded twice, though each time Spivey stepped up and miraculously healed his wounds.
Another spell caused Dinald to double up, his body wracked with pain as though some powerful toxin raced through his veins. Of the four arrows they possessed, three hit home, each badly wounding the creature, but still it survived.
Ailukkas icy spells seemed to have little effect, and neither did the ordinary missiles fired by the rest of the group. Although the thing was badly wounded it seemed that they just could not finish it off-unlike it’s jets of flame (from a wand Ragnar noticed) which were a persistent threat.
The groups salvation came from an unlikely source. Noting that the groups bolts and arrows were having little effect Spivey muttered and cast a spell on three small stones which she produced from her pouch. Flinging one of these it produced a somewhat unexpected effect.
The creature once again squealed in it’s high pitch voice and writhed as though in panic.
“Father! Help! Faaaathhhherrrr! Pazuzu!” it cried, but Spivey cast another stone, and this time it cried in mortal agony, and crashed to the ground in a seeming avalanche of gelatenous goo.
Almost immediately the air started to fill with a strange greasy quality, as the thing’s substance started to smoke and evaporate.
Watching in relief and horror the group noted that the image of Pharisama had vanished. “Just a spell I suppose” said Ailukka.
Reynald espied a glitter among the remains, and as well as retreiving his wand they found several items, including another circular disc like the one they had found on Kikonu. This one however had a symbol of the Moon engraved on the front.
Exploring off to the north they emerged into something like an alter room, and here they found a small statue of a four winged demon, as well as a selection of valuables presented as offerings.
Dinald picked it up. “I’m guessing this is Pazuzu. I’m going to chuck it into the river from the tower” he said.
Westwards the corridor led back to the Troglodyte area, and they climbed back up the stairs.
After some puzzling they realised that the only direction they hadn’t checked was a set of staris leading below ground from the haunted east tower. Ragnar shuddered at the recollection of the dead commander, but steeled himself as the group made their way up to the first floor. Dinald fling the statue as far as he could out of a narrow northern window, and perhaps only imagined that he heard a brief fluttering of wings.
They then descended down to the ground level where they had encountered the dead man; his corpse still lay flat in the corridor. Hurriedly they sought the other stairs and climbed down deep below ground level.
The stairs ended in a short corridor, and then in a lowered portcullis. On either side was a circular depression with a semi circular lug; one of these was marked with a Sun, the other a Moon. Ragnar put the discs in place. There was a click and the portcullis raised, revealing a dusty and long abandoned chamber, with two open doors to stony vaults lying beyond.
He stepped forward, and then stopped short as dust on the floor swirled into the air, and then
coalesced into an ominous shadowy form that took on the ghostly image of an old but handsome Tian man. The spirit adopted a defensive pose, his Tian sword held before him menacingly.
Ragnar, the hairs raising on the back of his neck stepped back with a short oath, but Ailukka leaned forward excitedly. “I haff seen him! I haff seen ‘dis man! His portrait sits on der valls on Ameiko’s home in Sandpoint” she said.
“Talk to him! Talk to him” said Dinald. Ailukka took a step forward with open hands.
“立派な六郎。 私たちは、あなたのグランドドーターAmeiko Kaijitsuによって送信されて、彼女の継承をシークします。 彼女は、キャンプであればありえないが、この 彼女の支援がありことを期待します。 " She paused.
“I knnoww this nnameee!” wailed the spectre, in the Common Tongue. A moment later, he raised
his arms and cried out in anguish, then turned to face Ailukka, tears of dust running down his incorporeal cheeks.
“Take the Seal away from here—take it to my grand child—it is no longer safe—and I am no longer worthy of guarding it…” The wraith pointed toward the eastern wall. “While the Seal remains within the box it remains hidden.” it then lowered its arms and with a wail and a small whirlwind of dust, collapsed into nothing.
Reynald checked the wall, and sure enough soon located a hidden door. Pushing it open this led to a corridor and a small room, and within this were three chests.
Two of these held a small horde of Ulfen arms and armour. Rasha eyed a bow covetously (and pretty much everything else). While Ailukka weighed an Ulfen Battleaxe experimentally,she had to shove him away to stop him trying to snatch it out of her hands. Ragnar laughed- the Sorceress had more than once beaten Rasha, Dinald and Reynald in arm wrestling bets.
The third chest contained only one item. A small laquered box of obviously Tian design.
“I guess that’s it” said Reynald. “Let’s get out of here”