Having released the prisoners from their cell and gone through the small pile of stuff left over, the group continued onward. Opening the other door in the main lodge area, there was a hallway leading off and to the right. Peering around the corner revealed two more ogres, waiting patiently by an partially open double door behind them. The group quickly burst around the corner to attack, catching the ogres by surprise. blows were exchanged, when into the room burst two more creatures: an orc bodyguard and a half-orc, armed with a khopesh and wearing a bright metal breastplate and steel shield. The group moved into positions to receive the new foes, when a gout of flame burst from the half-orc. Fire Breath!! The battle consumed several rounds, with Gellak taking down the ogres in quick fashion. The half-orc continued to press the attack, not giving ground or quarter. Another couple of breaths of flame and a couple strikes with his khopesh was all he could muster before the party brought him and the bodyguard down. A quick search revealed the khopesh, breastplate and shield to be magical. The party picked up exploration again after a round of healing…..
Behind the dead opponents was a door that led down into darkness. A 5’ wide hall full of stairs dropped some 60 to 80 feet underground and ended at a door blocked by two large boulders. The door itself was nailed over with boards. The party quickly surmised this was to keep whatever was in the chamber behind from getting out. Naturally, they moved the boulders, pried off the boards and opened the door. Behind them was a very large chamber, some 50’ long, with two semi-circular alcoves on both sides. At the rear were half a dozen steps leading up to another semi-circular alcove that had a pulpit of some sort in it. Cautiously moving across the room, Oxyl checked for traps and finding none, proceeded toward the pulpit. At exactly the halfway point, grinding stone was heard and springing from openings in the side alcoves were droves of animated skeletons, wielding a variety of rusty, sharp weapons. As Badger had decided long ago to follow the paths of negative energy, no turning of the monsters was possible. Again, the battle was joined. After much hacking and bashing, a total of 24 skeletons lay in pieces about the chamber. While pausing once again to rest and use up the last of the healing magic, those least hurt examined the room they were in. Badger’s religious teaching revealed that this was some sort of cathedral. Oxyl discovered a hidden door in one of the alcoves and opened it while the rest searched for more clues in the temple. Finding no other information, the proceeded to enter the hallway, which was filled with dust and heavy cobwebs. It was apparent that this passage had no been traversed by anyone living or dead in several decades. The hall turned to the left and quickly entered a room containing 5 statues – three on the left, two on the right. Each statue was different, with a nameplate at the feet telling who this was, when they were born and died and their title. A quick glance ahead revealed corridors of this nature going in all three directions. It was decided that they regroup back outside, leaving the two released prisoners a safe distance from the complex to guard the imprisoned orc leader. They went out, gathered the horses and mules and made their way a bit south of the keep. As they moved to leave the property, a person cried out from back near the keep. There, rushing toward them, was the cleric Kerig of the Red Banners. He hugged Coanor and Gellak and, as they moved toward the resting spot, told his tale. While fighting up on on section of the wall, he pasued to catch his breath and leaned against what seemed to be a secret door in the corridor. As there were several orcs headed in his direction, he ducked inside, and there he stayed, feeding himself with Create Food and Water spells and looking for a way to escape his predicament. Several days passed without a chance, when he looked out and noticed the orcs had left the area. As he crept back down the stairs and over toward the keep, he spotted the party….Kerig helped to watch the prisoner as the rest of the group broke bread and then slept. The following day, after regaining full complements of spells and healing as much as was prudent, the six comrades left to go back into the depths below the ruined keep.
Back in the statue room, they decided to move forward, taking notes on all the information given by the statues. The males stood in position with a longsword out in front of them, point resting on the floor. The females were dressed in robes. There were a few statues that stood out as different: one male was much larger than the others (called Petran Mynyth, or Petran the Mountain), while one of the females held a small child. After discovering no less than 23 separate statues, the group proceeded into a room that was much different. Roughly 20′×30′, this room had four stone slabs. They were arranged with three toward the front and toward the back. Most disconcerting was that upon the front three were skeletons, armed with obviously useful weapons and armor, the swords held in hand on the chest. The forth being was covered by a thick purple cloth. In front of the three skeletons were small wooden boxes. The covered being had a chest at it’s head, that appeared to be covered with gems and jewels. Throwing caution to the wind, Oxyl moved up and picked up one of the small boxes. Immediately, the four creatures moved to stand, drawing their weapons as they did. The skeletons had an unnatural bluish light emanating from their eyes….these were obviously not your garden-variety skeleton like those they had fought earlier. The one in the center rose and held two twin longswords, while the others held but one. The creature in the back was most horrid: the rotting and putrid flesh…the red, glowing eyes….Badger screamed out “Wight” as the fighters moved forward to engage the skeletal warriors. This turned out to be no easy fight. Gellak took on the dual sword wielding skeleton, and took several nasty blows, dropping him almost to the point of death. Badger worked on healing as the rest of the group engaged the four creatures. Randal – seeing the way into the room blocked, took a different path toward the fight. He cut through a room that was dimly lit and contained a single large female statue. As he moved to the corridor, the statue reached out and stuck him with its stone sword…a Caraytid Column – damn the luck! The fight went on for almost a minute and a half, with Gellak and Oxyl taking the worst of it. After dispatching the entire group – the last to go down being the two sword skeleton – they paused to heal and search the room over. The small boxes contained a single, ancient-looking copper coin. Badger deduced they were “payment for the Ferryman.” The chest that once had looked so rich revealed itself to simply be a normal wooden box, covered with an elaborate illusion to suck thieves in to their doom. It contained exactly 100 coins each of copper, silver and gold, all neatly stacked inside. The monsters also carried a bit of magic: the two twin swords were magical. They gathered up their spoils, secured them and moved further on into the darkness…..
TO BE CONTINUED (once again)