Nightfall in Brelindia

2 - Better To Extinguish a Candle

The "rekindled" Candle Man faces justice at the edge of an axe.

The group rests to recover some strength, as Honora examines the locked door leading from the guard post. It seems to be the armory door, and may have been resealed recently. No sound comes from the other side, so the group agrees to leave it be for a while as they continue to explore the ruined keep. After a quiet glance at the upstairs hall, they move through the corridor leading around the lower level of the keep, noting bloody graffiti and other signs of the twisted goblin hunters. They are noticed as they go, though a creaking door hinge somewhat spoils a bugbear ambush. Two horrid trophy-hunters pour out to assist the crossbow and net-wielding stalker, and then the group is further flanked by the arrival of another Bale-Eye shaman, seemingly the twin of the previously slain hexer. It’s a ruthless and thunderous battle, bloodying the survivors, before the last of the bugbears is cut down.

Somewhat to the relief of the four, the first floor seems to house no more of the murderous goblin brigands, though there are many trophies of their kills (and a valuable sack of witch’s salt) among the spoils, as well as human remains in the larder. The group then moves upstairs, where a pair of doors in the upper hall now stand open, with candlelight spilling out. After securing one portion of the hall, they check the first open door: a workshop where four scarecrows are in various states of assembly.

Honora notices that one is fully completed and feigning dormancy, and immediately moves to attack. As the others move to support her, a horrid fear overcomes Baden, and he strikes out at the waking nightmare only to wound Abbron. The fear seems to come from another scarecrow that flickers in and out of visibility like a heat mirage — a scarecrow accompanied by Klogis, the Candle Man. The Candle Man berates the heroes as he confronts them, claiming to be in the right. His powers are notable, but not enough to overcome the storm Abbron creates in the middle of the hall, and the wards that protect him can’t shield him from the axe-blows forever. He and one of his scarecrows are finally brought down, though the lurker escapes.

The group secures the last few rooms (a chandler workshop, some empty storerooms, and a master bedroom where Klogis was staying, with a small trap door up to the observatory level). Then they rouse the Candle Man and begin to ask him questions. He claims to have been saved from drowning (at the hands of the populace of Drakesbend, a town downriver) by a White Rider, a herald of an unknown lord. That herald “rekindled” him and gave him a baton of passage that was to grant him hospitality from the “lord’s man” at Tor Skalane. He admits to being charged with gathering power, in his case crafting wood-and-straw soldiers for this unknown lord. But he tells too much. Once he mentions that he was intended to make a meet at Giant’s Beacon, he begins to gasp and choke. As the candles on his staff go out one by one, Klogis expires.

The group secures the Candle Man’s goods, and plan to build a pyre for all the bodies once the keep is well and truly secure. They return to the armory and open it, finding little remaining of good value. But wooden stairs go down from the armory, and a hideous charnel reek wafts up from the stairs. Honora and Baden recognize it from experience — the unmistakable smell of ghouls.

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