The two weeks we spent in Stagholme was fruitful. Yuri and Ed were busy plying their crafting skills while the rest of us caught up on administrative duties. Even so, we were restless to get back out and tame the wilderness around the city. We decided to start with the map from the mad hermit. It mentioned a powerful weapon. While that would be nice to help defend the city, should one of us be able to use it, the words powerful undead kept jumping to the forefront of my thoughts. We need to investigate and see what threat it could pose to our city.
The trip began with a surprise. We awoke in the middle of the night to find two strangers in the camp with Ed‘s minion nowhere to be seen. Apparently, I knew one of them or so that’s what I said during the conversation that followed. It was confusing. They asked Ed to help them get some food and so Ed went off to catch rabbits. I offered them left over food from our evening meal. It is clear to me afterwards that some sort of charm was used. We will have to guard against that in the future and react accordingly. As for the intruders, we left them sleeping at their camp the next morning. We were only out some leftover food and a little sleep so we let them go their own way.
The rest of the trip towards the undead was uneventful. The cairn we discovered looked very old. Had there not been erosion along one side of the hill, we may never have found it. We entered cautiously. Even so, a trap set off a gas that affected a few of the group. So we retreated outside until the effects dissipated and then reentered carefully avoiding the area Trixie marked as the trap trigger. We were in an intersection when skeletons came from the shadows to attack us. The fight went quickly and in the end we added a couple of allies. The next fight came very soon after the skeleton encounter. As we entered the central chamber, a large skeleton with a broken great sword leapt out from behind the monument and attacked. The fight lasted only slightly longer than our first. Yuri identified it as a Wight and it is fortunate none of us were stricken by it. I for one have no desire to have my lifeforce sucked out of me. The end result was a nice ring for Nyet and I have a new sword. Well an old, broken sword but one that will serve us well as we delve deeper into the wildlands.
We made a quick stop in Stagholme to allow Yuri, Ed and Nyet to return to administrative duties. Corvaan than joined us (Pandora, Ookami and Vladimir) as we headed west to find the ruins. The trip was easy as no creatures have yet returned to the wild areas we cleared recently. The next day brought us to the vine covered ruins of an elven fortress. The walls were 20 feet in height and the outer towers stood 20 feet above the wall. Some of the towers seemed in tact while others shown the decay of ages gone bye. We entered from the south through a section of wall that had crumbled.
The first tower we searched was one that had partially collapsed. Here we found a very old statue of and elven lady. As we approached the second tower, we noticed a closed door and skulls decorating the vines of the tower. Our caution was rewarded when we discovered the assassin vine before it could decorate the tower with our bodies. We decided to leave it alone for now and move to the next tower. The third tower was infested with rats. We drove them away but found nothing of value remaining inside. The fourth tower had a recently constructed door. We decided to knock and make ourselves known. When no one answered, we opened the door and looked inside. Clearly someone had been living there. That’s when I saw the movement. I decided to pursue it slowly and cautiously. Pandora joined me. As we arrived to the area, a scream erupted from Corvaan. Something had stabbed him in the back. This led to a prolonged combat with a small and very fast humanoid. He attacked us many times using his stealth and quickness well to his advantage. Ookami did deliver a very solid hit with an arrow and I was able to make contact with my sword once. That seemed to be enough to drive him away. Corvaan was glad to see him go so that he could stop and control his bleeding.
Only the massive central tower remained to be searched. The bottom floor had a 20 foot ceiling. As we approached the stairs, a red cloud of gas enveloped us. Once we were sure no one had been affected by the gas, we proceeded up the stairs. The next level was inspiring in more than one way. The floor was covered with grass and plants and the outside view was tremendous. Even more beautiful was the elven woman living here. She was stunning. Even Ookami and Pandora agreed. They were frozen by the sight. Only after I resisted her charms on me did we fully recognize the danger. Corvaan and I were able to remain resistant to the attempts to placate us. In the end, we had to kill her. She clearly did not intend to be friendly and perhaps thought of us as her next meal. It was a long fight but in the end we walked away victorious.
Feeling a little wary, we left the tower to make plans for the night. As I stepped outside, I narrowly dodged an attack from a leaping creature. My first thought was of the small humanoid we met earlier but this proved to be something different. Some sort of undead. We hit it hard and fast. So much so, that it ran into the second tower past the assassin vine. We could not camp here with this creature close so we took up the fight. First we killed the vine. Afterwards, we entered the tower and struck down the undead.
We spent the night in the fortress. It will make the fine beginnings of a new city one day soon. That was on our minds as we ventured back to Stagholme for a long break.