Our cast of players:
- Achmed (Dave): Human Thief, level 4.
- Albrecht (Rick): Human Priest, level 4.
- Pioden (Craig): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 2/2/2.
- Tether (Dan): Human Warrior, level 3.
- Tomas (Alan): Human Paladin, level 3.
- William (Max): Human Warrior, level 3.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 3,010
At the news from Tomas that the hidden compartment in the altar contains a source of potent evil, you all decide against investigating further and to leave well enough alone. Before leaving, Tomas takes the golden glowing bastard sword and gives it a few practice swings. It seems to be a fine blade, nicely balanced, so he keeps it in hand, ready for use in the absence of a scabbard. Leaving the chapel as quickly as you can, Achmed and William hammer a couple of iron spikes into either side of the door frame so that anyone trying to get in (or out) would at least encounter some difficulty.
Achmed now leads you north, deeper into the heart of Bright Hill, in the direction of the double doors you saw prior to entering the chapel. The hallway remains wide and well constructed, paved with smooth flagstones, and is lit by many candles. After a short while, maybe twenty feet or so from the double doors, Achmed spots that the walls on both sides, that have hitherto been smooth, suddenly become bumpy a little way ahead. Moving closer he sees that the halls are lined with hundreds of skulls, carefully cemented into the walls in perfect rows and columns. Small placards are spaced intermittently among the skulls.
Moving as close as he can to the skulls without stepping between or beyond any of them, Achmed tries to examine the nearest ones, the flickering candlelight causing the shadows to bring their grinning mouths and eye sockets almost to life. The ones he can see clearly look to be recent additions. The cement is new, although not fresh or wet, and none of the skulls look to be particularly ancient. He risks a quick peek into one of the skull’s mouths and see nothing inside. The nearest placard is just within reading distance from his position and he can make out the words “Nelvin Cotterpin” written on it.
Deciding not to risk walking between the rows of grinning skulls, Achmed leads you back down the hallway, past the chapel and around the corner to the pair of doors opposite each other. The one door you have already ventured beyond, into the room containing the mural being amended by the townsfolk. The other remains as you remember it, barred with a heavy iron candle stand placed through the large ring handle and wedged into the floor. A dozen metal spikes are angled into the door to secure it to the frame. The door and patches of the adjacent walls have slashes and rents cutting deep into the wood and stone.
Achmed listens carefully at the door and reports that he can hear something large and heavy moving around, with the occasional sound of snapping. Deciding that the time has come to investigate what lies beyond, he tries to remove the iron spikes wedged into the frame and preventing the door from being opened, but they have been hammered in deeply and he cannot budge them. Pioden tries next, also to avail, and then Tomas. William now attempts to pull them out and makes a big show of flexing his muscles and spitting on his hands, but then finds he can pull them out fairly easily. Obviously the other three had already loosened them.
Achmed now takes up a kneeling and braced position opposite the door, crossbow cocked and ready to fire, with Tomas standing close and to one side, golden glowing sword and shield ready. The rest of you cluster around the far wall, Pioden pulling his hood over his head and disappearing from sight. Achmed nods in readiness to William, who taps free the candle stand wedged into the floor and then swings the door open, stepping back and to one side to reveal a dark room beyond.
A nightmarish creatures stands just beyond the door and Achmed gets a brief impression of huge bearish body covered in brownish-black fur interspersed with feathers. It is standing on two large clawed feet and as Achmed looks up he sees two clawed forelimbs clutching what looks like a human femur and further up the whole is surmounted with a hideous owl’s head, baleful yellow eyes looking straight at him. It opens its beak to emit a deafening, birdlike shriek and charges at the now open doorway. Achmed is ready and looses off two bolts from the self-loading crossbow, both striking home and causing the creature to below in fury, before rolling to one side.
Tomas backs off to let the creature out of the doorway and then moves to meet it in the middle of the hallway. The beast swipes at Tomas with one of its long, clawed forelimbs and almost smashes the plate mail clad paladin to the ground with one blow, before following up with a vicious bite from its beak that leaves him bloodied and reeling from the onslaught. Tomas swings back with the golden sword but misses, half blinded by the blood streaming into his eyes from a scarlet red slash across his forehead.
Seeing that Tomas is in desperate trouble, William and Tether move in attempting to attack the creature from opposite sides and divide its attention and both manage to get hits in, causing it to below once more. Achmed stays in his prone position and by aiming high, the creature being fully nine feet tall, gets two more good hits in, matting its feathers with fresh blood. Tomas recovers his fighting stance and this time his swing is true, the golden sword slashing deep down the creature’s flank, closely followed up by Tether and William again, the former using a new combination of the legendary mace and short sword, the latter his black dragon pommelled long sword which lands such a blow that chunks of flesh are sent flying.
Although the creature is incredibly strong and powerful, it has clearly been weakened by the punishment meted out to it, so Pioden emerges from his hiding place and unleashes two arrows straight at it. Both hit and it collapses to the ground with a gurgle. Examining the curious beast closely, Achmed sees that it is emaciated in appearance. Clearly it has been locked in the room for some time. Never one to be squeamish, he takes out his dagger and slices the beast open along its belly, foul smelling entrails sliding out. The rest of you back off, some with hands over your mouths, gagging and retching, as Achmed searches out the stomach and slices that open too, the only contents being fragments of shattered bone. Wiping his hands on his jabiya as though this were an every day occurrence, he gestures to the carcass with his thumb before uttering the single word, “hungry”, then, dagger still in hand, he peers carefully into the dark room beyond.
Albrecht moves quickly to Tomas’ side and provides him with some much needed healing, passing the lantern of continual flame to Tether who joins Achmed in the doorway, holding it high. Both men raise hands to their faces at the almost overwhelming animal stench issuing from within, but venture within to discover a small chapel, some fifteen feet by twenty-five. Scattered around are the remains of a small wooden altar, some chairs and pews, all of which have been overturned or crushed. Several skeletal bodies lie crumpled in the corners, townsfolk or pilgrims judging by the remains of their clothes, and many snapped bones lie scattered around. There are several large mounds of faeces in evidence.
One by one you wrap scarves around your faces to protect against the stench and file into the room while Achmed searches assiduously through the remains of the altar, finding a golden rose the size of a large brooch, which he passes to Tomas. Pioden examines the walls closely and finds a section of the north wall that appears to slide back. Calling you over, he carefully checks for any traps, before reaching forward to try it. The secret door slides quietly open to reveal a dark, rough-hewn passage snaking off into the distance. A thin layer of dust puffs up from the walls and floor, and a few wispy cobwebs billow slightly as the door opens and a musty smell issues forth. The floor has been worked more or less smooth, but the walls and ceiling are crude and angular. The passage looks to have remained unused for quite some time.
To be continued…