We continued on the road after being ambushed by the bandits, and walked into an incipient snowstorm. It’s spring for gods’ sake. We managed to find a cleft in the rocks we could get the cart into. I’ve my doubts as to how dry it will stay, but beggars can’t be choosers. The cart will be soaked once we get out of here, but at least we have shelter. We even managed to get Anusk and the mule into it. There were some sort of markings on the roof of the cave, but it was too dark to make them out. They could well just be soot. Ceor pointed out that as high as the roof is, it might not be wise to stay here too long.
After looking around for a few moments, we discovered there’s a passage at the back of the cave. Lacking anything better to do and wanting to make sure there were no unpleasant surprises, Ceor decided to investigate, and almost got himself stuck. There was another, larger area behind it. There seemed to be some sort of… magical atmosphere. I’m not sure what kind. There were cobwebs near the back, and the magic seemed to be stronger there. Ceor, being Ceor, went to investigate, and found the skeleton of either a gnome or a halfling, probably a gnome. It must’ve been there for quite some time. I looked at the skull, and all four canines had been replaced by some some sort of crystal. Didn’t really see any reason to meddle with those.
There was also a dagger that was in surprisingly good condition, judging by the hilt; it was in far better condition than its sheath. It seemed like it should have shown as magical, but it didn’t. The whole situation was a little unsettling. Upon closer examination, I’m reasonably sure the dagger is made out of mithril. Mithril doesn’t wear as much as iron or steel, but it should have had at least a little rust or discoloration. The sheath crumbled as soon as Ceor touched it, but the dagger seemed to be cast from a single piece of mithril, except for leather wrapped around the hilt. We decided to take the dagger, and as Ceor was unimpressed by the size, he passed it to me.
The cave in the back was larger and somewhat more comfortable than the cleft, so we decided to spend the night there. Somehow, both the tengu and the kobold managed to get themselves stuck in the crevice. How, I will never know, as a big lug like Ceor didn’t. While we were busy getting Reeshka out of the crevice, Miaako went back to poke the skeleton. Literally. With a crossbow bolt. He was attracted by the shininess of the crystal teeth.
I swear he’s got to be part magpie.
It didn’t seem like he accomplished much besides knocking the crumbling skeleton apart. After meddling with it for some time, he managed to extricate the crystal teeth from the skull. I swear, if he wakes up the restless dead, he gets to fight it.
Ceor took the first watch and let me sleep. I had strange dreams. I dreamed I was on top of a mountain, in the middle of a blizzard that strangely didn’t make me feel cold. There was no way down, and the full moon was freakishly huge. I watched the moon for a while, then became aware that a human woman was watching me. She seemed to know me, and asked why we’d invaded the halls of the dead. I told her it was to get out of the rain, and that the first cave wasn’t really big enough for the four of us and the animals. She warned me that others would come for the things we had taken.
Story of my life, really.
Ceor fell asleep, and apparently he and Reeshka had dreams that woke them up. Ceor somehow had the dagger we found; it had gone from my bag to his belt. We decided it was probably best to leave it after that. Ceor didn’t seem inclined to go back to sleep, and took Miaako’s watch.
In the morning, Miaako discovered the daggar, and practically begged to take it. I told him no, I don’t know how well he’ll listen. We should probably also leave those damned teeth, but good luck getting them away from Miaako. As we were arguing, we noticed that both the skeleton and the cobwebs had crumbled to dust, which was unsettling enough that I insisted we leave the dagger at least. Those teeth will get us in trouble, though. We got out of there, and discovered that the storm had been a localized phenomena. Given what else happened, that does not inspire confidence.
Miaako dozed off about midday. When he woke up, he was squirming and bouncing and I didn’t want to know. He also had that damned dagger. I know that I was the last one out of the cave and it was still there, and I know that Miaako didn’t go back in. Since the blasted thing seems intent on following us home, I suppose there’s nothing for it. At least we know where it is now. The spirits of the dead can’t get too mad at us for stealing it if we can’t keep it away.
We stopped for lunch for about an hour, and somehow, in that time, the grass grew up and tangled the wheels so firmly that Ceor couldn’t push it out. When he tried to use Anusk to pull it out, all that happened was they ripped the harness poles off. This left us with a choice of either leaving it in the clearing or waiting for the company to catch up with us and get it mended, or just moving all the gear onto the mule and walking.
We picked the latter.
We left a note detailing the situation before we cleared out, though we’re a little concerned about getting too far ahead of the company. We’ll work it out. We decided to stop early for the day, in a place with grass that won’t try to eat us. Ceor told me that he had a dream in which he met his deity, who told him to seek out a lance. I’m not sure if this was a true visitation from the gods, or if his imagination got away with him, but there will be no swaying him from this.
If it was a true visitation, then I might have encountered one myself, that night in the cave. I wasn’t all that polite… but the gods ought to know what kind of man I am. I’ve never asked for anything from the gods, because they wouldn’t listen anyway. She asked me questions and I answered, and we’ll leave it at that.
We reached the ruins in the middle of the day. We’d been wondering why it was so quiet on a known campaign trail, this might explain it. It looks like someone’s been trying to fortify this. The banner they were flying didn’t belong to any known house or city; the last time something like this was used it was a necromancer who’d styled himself a bandit king. I’m not sure if this is connected to the bandit that attacked us before, or if this is an unrelated group of bandits, a cult, or a necromancer and his minions. None of those options is really appealing.
We could choose to assault the place, which is stupid. We could go back and inform the army, which I suspect will end badly for us. We can go around, which I’m sure will end badly.
Before we could decide what to do, we were set upon by That Fucking Hound. I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing that thing again… I still think that bastard somehow managed to adopt a hell hound. Feral wolf my ass…
It’s gotten bigger since the last time I saw it.
I don’t know much of what happened; just about the first thing it did was try to tear my throat out. I missed the whole thing, since I was bleeding to death on the ground. Fortunately, the cleric managed to nullify the death part. Ceor managed to kill it, thank goodness.
If that fucking hound was there, then I know who’s got to be there… and if we’re unlucky, his sister will be with him. I’m not sure if he’s signed on with that group that’s taken over the ruined keep, but I wouldn’t be surprised. In any case, the fact that we’ve killed his dog is likely to make meeting him unpleasant.
Ceor grabbed me and hauled ass, until we got about an hour and a half back up the road, when I finally managed to get him to stop.
I dreamed again. This time, I’m sure it was a visitation; I follow no god, but I come closest to respecting Hecate. I’m reasonably sure I’ve now encountered her other two aspects, and at least I don’t think I’ve caused offense. She told me to seek out her staff… and also that she would approve of my killing my rival. Evidently, the Lady of Shadows does not approve of his choice of companions or allies, which works out because I don’t approve of him. She seemed to indicate that he was either in the keep or at least involved with them.
So I suppose we’re going back tomorrow.
Ceor met his god again, only this time there were three of them. He was disgustingly excited. Once he wound down, I told him about my dream… to an extent. We agreed to go back.