Kevin Vastavel & Cathy Naulaerts
Chapter 4 - A Bugbear's Tomb
5 Mirtul 1372DR
It was late in the afternoon when the 4 companions finally reached the rocky region which was called the Evermoors. The moors are high rock plateaus, split here and there by small, steep-sided stream-gullies. Though tors and rock outcrops are everywhere to be seen, most of the underlying plateau rock is covered with a thin layer of soil. The result is an open, windswept landscape of gently rolling grassy hills, studded with only a few stunted trees. Sucking bogs surrounded by a rich profusion of plants, form in the hollows of the moors. Long, sinuous ridges of knife-sharp rock run through the landscape like the spines of buried dragons. Emnarii shared her knowledge about the area with her friends. She told them that this region used to be named “The Trollmoors” because it was said it was alive with Trolls. Some rumours said that the troll population had decreased because of the Hill Giants who extended their territory from the North up to the Moors. “That’s nice to know” mumbled Evaryan “So our choices are being ripped into shreds by trolls or end up in some giant’s casserole“. But the 4 refused to give up and continued their journey into the Moors.
In the mean time the weather had become very bleak and the first strokes of thunder could be heard in the distance. Emnarii started feeling a bit awkward and decided to play a song on her shaum. Guormundr seemed to appreciate the song a lot as he spontaneously started humming and singing along. Grace and Evaryan did not appreciate Guormundrs musical effort very much, as it reminded them of a donkey’s braying. Although the storm was rapidly approaching, the party decided to continue the journey. They were hoping to locate a place where they could find shelter. It went dark and the storm erupted. Emnarii was struggling to stay on her feet because of the strong winds. Big hailstones fell from the sky and some of them struck the heroes very hard. They got bruises all over. Ahead in the distance, a large tor raised from the ground, its form illuminated by the occasional lightning. The party saw a tower and they made their way to it as soon as possible. It looked like the perfect place to sit out the storm.
When they approached the tower Emnarii suddenly realised she recognised the structure. “Isn’t this the High Tower, the tomb of the notorious Bugbear Warchief? Who made this area unsafe many centuries ago? I think I heard of this tomb in Everlund!” she called out to her companions. But they did not hear most of her words because of the howling winds. Once they arrived at the tower Emnarii started explaining her story again and when she was finished her companions were not really sure about taking refuge in the tower. Guormundr even suggested to find another place but the others did not really like that plan either. Stubbornly he decided to continue the journey on his own, he only needed half a mile to understand that it was a bad idea as he saw a tribe of giants pass. The dwarf decided the tower was the better option and returned to the tower. Meanwhile his friends had installed themselves in the first room of the tower. It was a grey and cold place. Peeling paint and broken scrollwork suggested that it was once decorated with some care, but now only dust remained. Three stone doors – 1 at the left, 1 at the right and one opposite the front door – gave entrance to the rest of the building. One of the doors looked as if it was attacked by the tooth of time as the lower side was damaged. Nicodemus, Grace’s cat, kept scratching the broken door and was mewing continuously. Suddenly a pack of rats entered the room from under the door. They appeared to have been startled by the thunderstorm and started attacking everyone who got in their way. Fortunately the party was able to chase them away. Even Nicodemus helped and as proud as a peacock he brought a dead rat to his mistress. After this short fight the friends wanted to go back to sleep but they could not sleep a wink because of the howling storm. After a few hours of tossing and turning they got up and decided to explore the rest of the tower. “Maybe we can find some treasure” said Guormundr while taking his spiked chains.
The foursome wanted to open the door opposite the front door first, but it was locked so they decided to take one of the side doors first. It gave entrance to a small room with a statue at the far end. It vaguely resembled a sarcophagus standing upright, except that the head of the figure carved upon its lid looked distorted and seemed to have tendrils instead of hair. A pair of bat like wings extended from its cheeks. Guormundr entered the room without thinking whereupon the statue opened its eyes. They were glowing green and the head soared straight at the dwarf while shrieking very loud. Fortunately the heroes could pull themselves together and Guormundr smashed the head into pieces with his spike chain. Once the room was safe they opened the sarcophagus and found a mummified bugbear’s body. Evaryan immediately took a golden ring from the bugbears ring finger. He put the trinket around his own finger and took a scroll that was tucked under the mummies arm. None of the heroes could read what it said except Evaryan who did not understand why he could read it. It looked as if it was written in the Goblin language and he was certain that he was not able to read this language. “Would this ring give me the power to understand foreign languages?” he wondered. He told the others what was on the scroll. Apparently the remains they found once belonged to one Grubskar. Grubskar used to be the lieutenant of the black warrior, the chief of the bugbears many centuries ago. There was nothing else of interest in the rest of the room so the party decided to move on.
Carefully they opened the 2nd stone door. It cracked when it opened and a big cloud of dust escaped from the room behind it. And with the exception of a big chest in the middle the unlit room seemed to be empty. And again Guormundr worked his way to the front so he could be the first to reach the mysterious chest. Poor Emnarii almost got hit in the face by one of his elbows and she cast an angry look at the energetic dwarf. But Guormundr was soon to find out that greed was a bad trait because when he opened the chest several small darts burst from the walls. 2 darts hit him in the left leg, 1 in his right shoulder and 1 brushed past his nose but his wounds were not as bad as they looked. And when the party had treated his wounds they decided to investigate the chest together. To their great joy the chest contained a few valuable objects; A headband of the stout heart, 2 pearls and a small bag with gold pieces. It was then that Grace realised the Nicodemus, her tomcat, was not with them and an anxious feeling overwhelmed her.
When she went to look for her cat she soon found him in a corner, playing with a large bronze key. The faithful quadruped gave the key to his mistress and the party decided to try the key on the large locked door. Guormundr did the honours and hey all eagerly waited while the dwarf opened the door. It was a perfect fit and as soon as the door had opened it revealed a long corridor with a door at the end. Prepared for everything the companions headed for the door but there ware no unexpected surprises in the corridor so they could easily reach the door. When they opened it, they saw a big, dusty room. Compared to the rest of the complex, they could hear the thunder and the rain a lot better in here. But they soon noticed a big hole in the ceiling of the room that might have had something to do with it. Then the group noticed that they were not the only ones looking for shelter. A rope was lowered through the hole in the ceiling and a large person, dressed in chain male descended. The 4 adventurers waited carefully, prepared for everything. Once the figure had reached the floor his companions descended as well. The stranger turned around and found himself face to face with Grace, Guormundr, Emnarii and Evaryan. They did not waste a second, the person was a hobgoblin, and they clamped their weapons. With a fierce roar the hobgoblin charged but Guormundr and Evaryan intercepted him. While the dwarf and the elf were finishing of the intruders that had reached the floor, Grace cast a sleep spell on the ones that were still climbing. Many of them fell to the ground and landed abruptly on the hard ground, much to Emnarii’s joy. The hobgoblins did not stand a chance and were slaughtered till the last man. “That’s how I like my fights!!! Mano a mano!! Kill the greenskinned scum!! It’s just a shame that Grace used her magic again. There was no need for that missy; I could have handled them on my own. We, the people of Karak Azullu, we know how to handle scum like that!” Guormundr roared, still in his frenzy. Evaryan and Grace glanced at each other and decided to let the dwarf have his little illusion. The 4 searched the bodies of the hobgoblins but they were not carrying anything valuable. “I suspect they were passing by and wanted to find some shelter” he said quietly while inspecting the body of a Hobgoblin with a broken neck. Relieved but with adrenaline still rushing in their bodies, they decided to try the other door. They opened it and found a small corridor with 2 doors.
After having a short discussion and being frightened by a loud stroke of thunder the group decided to take the first door on the right. It was already partially opened and from where they were standing they could see about ten decomposing bodies. Some of them were all rotten so you could see the bones. With her heart beating loud, Emnarii entered the room first brushing past a large spider web. Evaryan and Guormundr were less fortunate because they got stuck. They were both trying to release themselves when the resident of this room made itself known. A large, brown spider jumped the 2 heroes. Evaryan screamed of terror when he saw the spider approaching but fortunately his friends were around to help. The spider was killed and Evaryan and Guormundr were released. Once they were loose Guormundr patted the elf on his shoulder and said: “What were you screaming about? You sounded like an old toothless shrew. Just for that little spider? In Karak Azullu, where I come from, we have spiders about 5 times as big as this one. And 10 times as hairy. Peanuts for a dwarf like me. Watch my words elf, there is nothing to be afraid of when I’m around”. The elf cast an angry look at the dwarf but decided it was not worth an argument. They could do without a fight in the group and they had to be able to trust each other if they wanted to survive the dangers in this tower. The 4 heroes looked at the remains of the spiders’ victims and Evaryan found a strange axe. It was a nicely decorated, blue axe with a crystal grip. He loved the weapon and could feel the strange power it radiated. When he grabbed the axe he felt the psionic energy flow from the weapon into his body “RAAARGGHHH, Power and honor to ours!!! Let the blood of the dishonest flow!!!! Go and conquer!!!” A strange, metallic voice echoed through the room and Evaryan soon realized it was the axe shouting. Without success he tried to communicate with the weapon but he soon realized that it only ranted and raged when he took the weapon. With a soft smile he put the weapon away. “May this weapon help me on my quest to find Aylinn” he mumbled while taking a small diadem from his hair. He caressed the item, kissed it gently and put it back in his hair. Guormundr, who saw the whole thing, scratched his head, not understanding what was going on.After they explored the room they decided to enter the last door. Evaryan read the inscription on the door and concluded that the black warrior was buried in this room. He told his companions but they still decided to investigate the room and opened the door. A long, stone table dominated the center of this room, and bright bits of gold winked from within the dust that covered the floor. Upon the table lied the well-preserved corpse of a tall humanoid wearing the tabard and belts of a knight. Next to the walls were large jars. Emnarii told the others that the jars were probably holding the viscera of the bugbear. The group slowly approached the table and the corpse got up and moved towards the party. He lifted an old, rusted morningstar in one hand and a javelin in the other. As he climbed off the table, its mouth opened to loose an eerie moan. The rotting carcass was wearing a second Morningstar on his back and it was clearly in a much better state than the one he was holding. It was a fierce battle but they managed to defeat the undead bugbear. And with no more doors to open the party decided to spend the night in this last room.
The content of The Chronicles of Grace Faylne is the property and copyright of Kevin Vastavel and is not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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