From Hommlet to the Ruins
The third chapter in an exciting tale of high adventure and heroic deeds. A retelling penned by the acclaimed scribe and scholar Belkas Silverquill.
Within the comfortable setting of the Inn of the Welcome Wench in the village of Hommlet, our heroes are engaged in conversation with the bard Rethidoor Halfmoon. He is pleased to see them again, but is surprised to hear about the raid on Gustav’s manor. As they continue to chat, Rethidoor tells of his desire to write an epic sonnet, a ballad of grand adventure and heroic deeds of such scale as to be the greatest tale ever told. He asks if he can join our heroes and write of their adventures. Even though he admits to having no combat experience and only limited mastery of magical arts, they agree to allow him to join them.
The next morning the group prepares to leave town. Arnisil pays a visit to the nearby temple and speaks with a cleric within, but learns nothing new of note. Dinky and Paradox set off to find Spugnoir, but instead find a young girl of about 10 sitting on the doorstep of his shop eating the largest sticky bun either of them have ever seen. She introduces herself as Spugnoir’s daughter, and explains that her father is out of town. When asked where he has gone and when he is due to return, the girl explains that he has gone to the ruins to keep an eye on things, but has been gone for a few days now and should have returned. She tells them he usually returns within a day. Paradox senses that the girl is worried. They reassure the girl that all is well, and that they will go and look for him. They then quickly return to the Inn to speak with the others. On hearing the news, all are agreed on the same course of action… go to the ruins and find Spugnoir.
Soon they are on the road headed for the ruins. Our heroes have not travelled far when they come across a trapper by the name of Dell. He tells of seeing strange, gnoll-like creatures in the ruins. But of more concern, he claims to have seen a blue dragon enter the ruins, and believes it to still be there. Despite the danger, the group decide to continue on, and before long reach the ruins.
Although once a might structure, very little of it remains standing. Surrounded by a stagnant moat, the keep seems to consist of a partially destroyed manor, crumbling outer walls, a collapsed tower and dilapidated remains of a gatehouse. An overgrown path leads to a drawbridge crossing the moat, with the ruined gates of the guardhouse open.
As the group approach the drawbridge, Dinky passes closely to a large pool of foul smelling water. A giant toad suddenly breaks the surface and attacks, only to be struck down by Gol’kosh.
Paradox notices that his wolf companion seems reluctant to continue. He communes with the wolf and learns of the presence of scarey creatures, big lizard and many dead things. The wolf definitely fears to enter.
Despite this, the group carefully enter, and spread out in the courtyard. On the far side of the courtyard stands the remains of the manor. Whilst the upper level is in ruins, the ground level appears relatively intact. As they make their way across the courtyard, a large blue creature leaps out of the manor through the ruined doorway and attacks. A dragon! It roars in anger “Who dares enter the lair of Untreshemon!” It spits lighting at Paradox and the battle joined by the others. Despite the fearsome reputation of dragons, the battle is soon over with the great beast slain by Gol’kosh.
The party enters the manor and finds the half eaten remains of a human corpse. By the manner in which he is dressed, they believe he was a Cleric, however the symbol on the pendant worn around is neck is not recognized to any in the group. A second corpse, this one of a woman is found nearby. Despite a thorough search of the ground floor, little else of value is found. What is discovered are two stairways leading down, one of them hidden behind a secret door.
The group decide to take the secret stairway. At the bottom they find a door which looks to be a long time closed. Edging the door open, our heroes find themselves in a large, pillared chamber – but they are not alone. A female Cleric and two gnolls stand near a covered table with strange items upon it. The group attack, and the gnolls are quickly slain, but the Cleric has retreated to the rear of the room. Silas takes a small black sphere from the table, but is seen by the female Cleric who demands he put it back immediately! Unsurprisingly he ignores her, so she opens the door at the rear of the room and screams out the command “attack!” Several skeletons emerge from the room, including the skeleton of a large owl bear, and attack the group. Gol’kosh flees to the far side of the room where he seems to cower for a short time, as the other attack. Arnisil calls on the favour of his God, destroying several of the skeletons. The remaining abominations along with the female Cleric commanding them are soon slain.
A search of the room from where they emerged reveals the strange words “Death to all owl bears” engraved in one of the walls. The group note that the female Cleric is clad in the same robes as those worn by the dead Cleric found on the ground level. She is also wearing a strange, unrecognized symbol around her neck. What strange cult have our heroes stumbled across? And why are they inhabiting these ruins? Will they discover even greater evils if they continue searching these ruins? And what has become of Spugnoir? Is he a part of this cult? Is this why he comes to the ruins? Or has he perished at the hands of this strange, unknown cult? Only by facing greater dangers will our heroes find the answers to these questions, but do they have the skill to survive the evils that must surely lay ahead?