Nightfall in Brelindia

3 - The Bones of Tor Skalane

The murderers of Bone Hill may be gone, but older threats are found down in the dark.

The prospect of fighting ghouls while still fatigued and worn is deemed unappetizing, and the four retire to a campsite down by the main road. The tree cover gives them good shelter from the rain rolling in, though they can’t see the keep from the campsite. Late in the night, a few lantern lights can be seen bobbing out in the woods, but the group puts too much stock in local superstition about wisp-lights to investigate.

The rain hasn’t let up by morning, so the trek back up Tor Skalane is an unpleasant one. It quickly proves to be the least of the day’s unpleasantries, though.

Unblocking the armory door, the four head for the stairs. The familiar reek does indeed turn out to be ghouls: a scuttling group, amid the remains of former prey. One of the ghouls has greater charnel power than the others, calling up choking grave dust and summoning clutching hands from the ground to hold Baden and Honora in place. Both sides attack furiously; a ghoul nearly makes a meal of Abbron before it’s hacked and blasted apart, and the knife-wielding leader of the ghouls glances resentfully at a nearby door before Baden’s divine power and Abbron’s conjured storm pull it apart.

The group sifts through the remains and finds some clues of prior visitors to Tor Skalane: in particular, the sword and mastercraft plate of a Brelind warrior, and the gear of a fallen dwarf. Both doors exiting the ghoul’s room are locked, seemingly to seal the ghouls in. Exiting, the group finds a long basement corridor that winds around some large dungeon cells (one of which seems to hold the remains of a man only a few years dead), past a large guard room and into a storeroom with interesting furniture stacked under layers of dust. Baden notices some disturbance in the dust that hints a secret door in the storeroom’s wall: once found, the door leads to a long corridor under the courtyard, perhaps a secret escape route.

The corridor leads to a basement level of the large tower that is part of Tor Skalane’s outside wall. The tower is not unoccupied, though: the skeletal dead of Bone Hill pour from both up and down stairs to attack. Most are old, ragged remnants that seem to date back to the keep’s fall, though several retain a deadly edge. The dead aren’t equal to the sacred might of the Valysan and the Amaelite, however, and Abbron is able to unleash more thunder and lightning to tip teh scales further. After the fight, Abbron heads up to the rotten upper story to investigate, but his weight is too much; the wooden floor gives way, splintering on the stone floor below (and revealing a few treasures as it does so). The power of storm saves Abbron from a similar fate.

After some conferral, the group decides to go farther down from the basement level, using the stairs in the tower. A corridor deep below the keep leads to a stone door that guards a large cavern, natural but somewhat smoothed out by human hands. This lowest area houses more of the dead: a 10-foot hulking corpse and a scattering of ancient skeletal soldiers. The guardians are quickly overwhelmed, but also reinforced by more skeletal soldiers — and to complicate matters, the massive hulk rises again after being cut down, dividing the battlefield. By the time the skeletal champions are cut down, the four living heroes are in a bad way. They pause long enough to ascertain that the most skilled and lethal of the skeletons seemed to be wearing black-lacquered armor with a cat’s paw motif: perhaps the two-headed panther of Lord Magrest, perhaps the paws of the Black Gryphon. Then they retreat to safer ground, the storm still coming down around them, to find a safe place to regain their strength.

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