Two & A Half
Beleaguered and weary, the company set out, intent on rescuing Sir Jon Foster above all else. Other matters would have to wait. Traversing the maze like underbelly, they found their way back to the rat room, the rodent nest beyond the bedchamber of the war hero Wilborn the Hunter. The sounds of battle echoed from behind the secret door, and the party advanced, desperate to save their companion.
Shockingly, they came upon Sir Jon, locked in combat with two fully armored knights of House Blackmoor, but not alone — he was fighting alongside an ally — Chieftain Horde, Boatswain of the Cassandra, he who had been lost, kidnapped by Kobolds, in the Caves of Chaos.
Quick to come to their aid, Magnar and Kik-Dos magically held their opponents while Brukhart and Sebastian made quick work of them, to finish them off.
What followed was a joyous reunion. Chieftain explained how he and other slaves had escaped the Caves, eventually making their way back to Skalgrimgard. There he learned that his old compatriots had slipped into the dungeons beneath the keep. One of the slaves led him to a back entrance that brought him to his old friend, Sir Jon of Stewart.
They filled their friends in on what had transpired thus far, introduced Chieftain and Sir Jon to the halfling, Ozmund, and Chieftain to Gnarwald, as well, and they all marched off for the Treskeggmal Room, hoping to finally uncover the great secret that so many Houses were obviously seeking out.
Crossing their makeshift bridges into the solemn chamber, Kik-Dos deciphered the runes around the Treskeggmal: “Here stands Berkano who serves the Men of the North”. They were all careful to avoid a mirror leaning against the west wall, converging on the great cabinet that occupied the center of the south wall.
While making their way to the cabinet, Sebastian said he felt this was a good omen, that that those they had thought lost were now returning. Magnar grumbled that he still had two dead brothers… “Well, two and a half,” he added gruffly.
Undeterred, Sebastian removed his thieves tools and easily picked the lock on the cabinet door, but when opened, it was empty. He began to think Magnar was right. Maybe their luck hadn’t changed. Searching the inside, however, not one, but two secret panels were discovered. One led to a set of double doors on the south wall, which they all deduced led into the draugr filled statuary room. The second revealed a hidden ladder descending even deeper beneath the keep.
They opted to go down. Kik-Dos led the way, while Chieftain and Sir Jon defended their position above.
The Sea-Mage discovered a library. At the base of the stair was a dead spider, long since passed. Two human skeletons were chained to the wall near the entrance, while a third lay headless in the center of the room within the remnants of a circle of protection.
Examining the room more closely, the shelves revealed volumes on necromancy and summoning magics, with various spell scrolls discarded about. Magnar unearthed a hidden lever behind one of the tomes. He pulled it, causing the two massive book cases on the east wall to separate and withdraw into the walls. Beyond lay a strange a fascinating chamber, occupied by the bones of what could only be described as a long dead dragon.
Kik-Dos, examining a wizard’s notebooks that revealed he was attempting to conjure a primeval in order to mine its blood to become a lich, gathered Gnarwald and they looked to examine the chamber with the rest.
Tall staves adorned with petrified dragon eggs occupied the four corners of the room. The skeletal remains of the dragon were within the confines of a summoning circle, and sympathetic magic infused murals, depicting sorcerous portals, were painted into three alcoves in the north, east, and south.
A human head was in the dead dragon’s maw, obviously plucked from the headless skeleton without. Gnarwald sought to speak with it, but it was too old and the scholar too weary to lull the soul of the departed back to the prime material.
Brukhart removed the dragon skull from its decaying form and strapped it to his back.
Meanwhile, Sebastian had found another secret door, this one in the south wall, behind another bookshelf. He and Ozmund went inside and the Captain of the Cassandra swallowed hard.
In the center of the room was a hastily scrawled magic circle. Inside lay the skeletal remains of a wizard atop a large grimoire. Just south was an intricate magic circle, a type of soul cage, for lack of a better term, and beyond it, a large crypt, unopened.
In several alcoves along the east and west walls were mounds of burnt books.
Walking to one of the alcoves, Sebastian snooped around a bit, then fell back away from the burnt pile, calling out to his companions as an animate skeleton rose up out of the ruined library.
Magnar rushed forward, but the undead creature was out of range…
“What the hell is this place?” Ozmund muttered, drawing his enchanted poinard.
to be continued