Wealday The 6th of Desnus, 4715
The two northern towers have staircases going up to the second level, as well as a smaller stair case leading up to the upper levels of the towers. The rooms above seem filled with junk, pushed into the corners or up against the wall. Leaving the room clear so the arrow slits are visible.
The second floor guard rooms seem to be in slightly better repair, which makes us worry about stability of the structure. Inside the rooms, there are signs that someone has slept here (sleeping pallets and fire pits). But otherwise, it doesn’t seem recent. There’s a lot of rubbish piled up in the corners. And the walls, again, are filled with orcish graffiti (tribal symbols, some religious imagery, and a lot of sexual imagery).
We make our way along the curtain wall into the second story of the chapel. Unlike the ground level entrance, this one seems unbarred. The door opens and several rotting bunks fill the centre of the room. Tracks lead between the three doors. The bunks seem original to the fort. Unlike other rooms, there’s not a lot of graffiti or rubbish in the room.
We go through a door and up a circular stairwell to the next level. The third floor is a bell tower with a rather sizable verdigrised bell. The walls have open crenellation, looking out in every direction except due west. The roof is domed above the bell. This is in keeping with the Iomedian faith. The bell is a bit dented and scuffed, but seems fine. We’re not sure about the wooden frame that it’s balanced upon.
The bell has an inscription in Taldane along the bottom that quotes parts of the sword oath. This passage refers to guarding ones fellows. Their are signs of regular traffic through the room but it would seem few stayed here.
We wind our way back downstairs to the second level. I take a peak into the ground level. There’s not much light. There are small stained glass windows, but they are only the width of arrow-slits and shuttered from the outside. The door is letting in thin-slivers of light. It’s enough to illuminate the interior. It was once white-washed but the paint is peeling now.
The room is has a grand vault. A marble alter sits atop a dias, and opposite it is the statue of a large woman brandishing a weapon. The place seems completely untouched. The pews are still in place, although they are dried out and cracked. The statue itself was bronze and has gone completely green, but seems intact. I head back to the group. I suspect the room is somehow defended or, perhaps, haunted.
We follow the curtain wall to the keep. Just inside are two dead ogres that have been killed by the Manticores. The main room is now an abattoir; as most of the bodies of the dead have been eviscerated and eaten.
We winch down the drawbridge and head back into the inner courtyard. I go over and unbar the door to the chapel. Below them, in dried cracking paint there’s some orcish words on the door itself. It says: Keep out, vengeful spirit inside.
As the door is freed, light spills out through the door, the light grows until it makes the paint disappear. Tova recognizes the effect as a light-effect.
The door way opens on its own. The light fills the doorway. Then slowly recedes and coalesces in the room beyond. As I walk in, the light disperses and the room is brightly illuminated; as if the stained glass windows were no longer boarded up. The sense of peace is somehow amplified by the light.
As Tova joins me, a new radiance forms around the sword in the statue’s hand. After some thought, this was the first fort to be besieged and to fall against the orcish hoards before the Sun wall was abandoned. According to the rumors and the books, survivors held out for 8 months against the orcs, and stories of desperation followed this place. The only survivor was a 12 year old child, one of the chaplain’s sons.
Another faint glow starts manifesting in the chapel. Much fainter, it’s at the alter. The light has a lime green hue and it seems quite a bit paler. It is slowly forming a human shape. I stop, nervously, as I see the skeletal structure inside it.
As I watch the skeleton turns more opaque and more musculature and fleshy bits grow opaque and then armour manifests atop it. Within a few seconds, it develops the looks of a middle-aged man with a small goatee. He’s rather gaunt and tall. He’s also not touching the floor.
He is the spirit of the captain, Fabian Blix. He’s been trapped here for years uncounted. He stays because his flock is not at rest. He needs our help. He asks about his sons, but the book only mentions one son. Tira remembers a few folk songs about the fort and its desperation. The son who made it out was Eldar Blix, and he became some kind of military leader. His brother, somehow, didn’t make it out alive, but history doesn’t tell what happened.
He is happy that Eldar made it out, but worries about his other son. He tells us that the fort did indeed fall to cannibalism, but the fort’s lord commander, Castelan Tamien Varius came to the chaplain, claiming it was his sworn duty to protect the keep at all costs. Their supplies were expended but he ignored the chaplain’s council to surrender. The Castelan explained that the strong should eat the flesh of the weak so they might persevere and protect the southern lands from the orc hoards; maintaining the line at all costs.
The chaplain refused him absolution. He Castelan struck the chaplain down, and the chaplain became the first feats in the stew-pot. His wife was next. He managed to appear to his sons in their dreams and told them how to flee to the east to a fort under the command of Heliu. After the chaplain’s death, the Castelan went after the rest of his flock. And the chaplain was cursed to remain here.
The Castelan took the families of the soldiers and locked them under the keep. He claimed it was for their own protection. He claimed that the chaplain had been hoarding food, and so he boarded up the chapel. Those in the dungeons were butchered and brought to the kitchen, where they fed the strong.
But our coming was foretold by Droja; an orcish witch who can speak to the dead. She spoke to the Chaplain and said they would be able to bring him peace. Droja is a blind wise woman who considers herself a captive of the orcs here.
The men demanded to see their loved ones and when the Castelan couldn’t produce them, the soldiers dragged his body up to the top of the castle where he was entombed. When the Chaplain learns we have the castelan’s remains, he asks for them. I go get them by earthgliding out to our stuff and back.
In the meantime, the Chaplain offers to heal the group. They accept.
I bring the bones back to the chapel. The Chaplain could hear his pleas for mercy after he had been entombed. But they fell on deaf ears.
We place the bones on the alter and then, upon his instruction, start destroying the bones as the Chaplain holds a funerary mass for the Castelan; his murderer and cannibal. As the body is ground into dust the Chaplain’s voice gets more and more hollow. His image starts to loose its opacity. As we continue, the Chaplain prays for his wife and two sons, the soldiers who sinned without knowing, dying to protect strangers to the south from the deprivations of the orcs.
His voice grows quieter and quieter until, what seemed to be a pause is the end of the service. And from above, the bell sounds three times. The peace that was pervading the chapel grows to fill the rest of the keep.
Shamus sets the centre building alight. It is the closest thing we can come to making a pire for those trapped in the pantry.
We head for the gate as soon as we are sure the fire is well lit. We make our way back towards our stash. We uncover the stash and start packing it all up. We head back east towards the meeting point.
The fort behind us burns brightly.
As we make our way along the north shore of the Esk river, it’s mostly gravel and outcrops of rock, but occasionally there are spots of sand. We see the occasional track heading in the same direction as us. There seem to be a good number of orc tracks and bare foot medium-sized humanoid. Possibly Dwarven.
Sif thinks its a group of six orcs and a female half-orc and a dwarven male (barefoot). All of them were moving at a decent speed too. The half-orc and the dwarf were a few hours ahead of the orcs. So the orcs were only a few hours earlier than us. We might be three hours behind the orcs.
At the speed they go, they’d most likely overtake a dwarf eventually. We seem to be catching up on the orcs. Tova smells smoke ahead of us. The wind is blowing westward.
Beaxuite goes out to explore and, a few moments later he comes scurrying back and starts chattering at Shamus, who translates. There are six orcs encamped over to the east. They’re in a shadow of a hill, two are awake. They are all archers. The orc and half-blood aren’t with them.
I go through the earth and find the orcs nearby. Four are nestled in a crevas, one is higher up and closer to the group, while the last one is further away. I aim for the one furthest from the group first. I can also sense the trampling of the ground behind me. My friends approach.
As I attack the forward guard, the others race up to engage the main group. It is a fierce, but short battle, as we quickly overwhelm this small group of orc survivors. Once they are dead, Tova heals herself and I help where I can.
Then, we head back down to the river, and pick up the trail of the dwarf and the 1/2 blood.
<< Back to the Adventure Index