So our hired boat dropped us off at the Ruined Wharf. It was interesting to see that this structure though obviously still of Human workmanship had been built with some real pride and attention to detail.
I admit their designs of flames and bones make me somewhat nervous, the symbolism is hardly reassuring but then again whom am I to just an alien race?
The wharf was deserted when we arrived there the wreckage of what turned out to be (maybe the last?) a funerary Barge filled the eastern berth. Three ominous looking towers warded it in times past but they like the rest of the structure had fallen to ruin perhaps a hundred years ago. The wood of the towers fighting platforms had been savaged by the damp conditions but I saw that somebody had set fire to the structure’s first speeding there destruction. Strange, as I had thought the place had been attacked from within by Lizard folk, that shun fire most often?
Two things struck our eyes almost immediately. Before us lay some large vaulted doors of weathered but still sound, made of wood and iron set directly into the cliff face behind the central tower. These had been heavily barricaded at some point this last year as locks and chains secured them to four heavy Iron bars that had been set into the cliff face sometime this year. Short of a siege weapon there would be no entering the place through that rout – or so we thought at the time!
Walking up the wharf towards the eastern spur of the cliff we passed the sunken funerary barge. Ti and Calistra elected to investigate while the rest of us stayed on the dry stone of the docks. They had not even reached its sodden railings when a cry went up from Master Flamebutte.
Two of the hated vampire birds had dropped from their roosts high on the cliff above us. One swept past my ear! But thanks be to Berronar the high collar of my dwarven plate foiled its strike at my neck! Master Clancy was less fortunate however. The other had fastened its slender beak into the soft flesh at the back of his neck and was seconds away from trying to drain the poor halfling of his very blood!
Fortunately for him my loves reactions and decisiveness came to his aid immediately. With a delicacy I can only envy Hella swept the foul thing from his back with a single well placed move with her blade. Stunned the creature flopped to the floor, Where it was slain a moment later as it tried to regain the air.
Master Ti with a grace I again can only envy (For give me Goddess grace of body was never my gift) Dove past me and his sword spitted the creature that had tried to make a meal of my blood but seconds before.
After we had tended master Clancys scratch Ti and Calistra again attempted to wade the short distance out to the barge. I prudently stayed clear of its rotting waterlogged deck and stood shoulder to shoulder with my beloved Hella lest anymore vampire birds dropped down upon us while they searched for clues.
As commotion caught my eye as they moved to examine the glint of metal laying by the deceased casket. Some kind of great sea worm had taken up residence in the barge! How lady Calistra is so at home in the water I shall never know but a swift stabbing blow from her spear skewered the thing but thought the creatures dark blood flowed freely from the wound it still found the strength to recoil in a counterstrike that fastened its hideous rounded teeth upon her leg.
Worse, the fighting had disturbed the serpents mate from beneath the barge. A second grey flattened head with tiny eyes but gaping maw filled with thousands of small razor-ed teeth broke the surface near the ship. But it was here master Clancy redeemed his previous startled cry. A snatch of arcane tongue and a violet bolt darted from the Wizards finger and blew a hole through what on any other creature might have been its neck. Dead before it knew what hit it the leech like creature flopped back to its watery lair dead as a stone.
Aboard the barge master Ivarr had daringly dashed across the wet steps down onto the rotting hulk and it swiftly fell to his and the others assault.
Again after a moment to inspect her wound (it was but a scratch) the three now balanced upon the barge commenced there search. A scrap or two of Armour possibly salvageable was recovered as was a flask of some spirit by Mistress Calistra. best of all was a waterlogged chest of sorts, which while largely filled with drifted sand and sea wrack still held a large Golden goblet and a silver arm ring of reasonable quality. A part of me was pleased at these discoveries while another horrified that we were likely taking the last burial goods of some poor soul.. Still I said a brief prayer of his bones and asked that Berronar forgive me any trespass. I t was perhaps fair exchange his gold for driving off the creatures that were defiling his remains yes?
Once these spoils of war had been safely stowed away (Though I am at a loss why master Ti decided to saddle himself with that large rusty shield) we passed onto the far end of the wharf where a pair of impressive but not overly strong looking doors lay just inside a small recess cut into the stone. These we found to be open and we cautiosly peered into a large hallway set with fine marble upon the floor inlaid with small runes of corroded copper.
Leading from this Runed hall were two other doors one north and the other south as well as we could just make out a passage continuing further east into the side of the ancient cliff. A high pitched whistling sound was faintly discernible in the air. Like wind in the trees heard from across a field I thought, but there was no draft or gust that would explain this phenomena to me.
But these all would have to wait. Laying in the center of the floor were three long dead bodies, well weeks dead in any case. Lady Calistra knelt by the nearest one to examine it and to my lasting horror the cadaver groaned and flopped over its claw like hands reaching for her throat!
Never before had I encountered one of the living dead! I fumbled for my holy symbol having been well drilled what must be done in such a pass but the confounded thing was within my jerkin! And by the time I retrived it the Zombie had been hewn down by my companions. My darling Hella kicked the next one and like its unholy companion before it this sprang to life raking at her with claw and broken fangs. One claw drawing a single trail of blood through her armors leather seams! Outraged I stepped forward but my lack of grace prevented me again and before I could thrust my Holy symbol into its insane face the creature fell to sword and Ax.
Master Ivarr decided that prods and kicks were no way to treat these creatures and made to strike the lasts head from its shoulders. But the polished marble of the floor betrayed him as he swung and his foot turned and his sword crashed into the stone and broke off its tip. The menaced creature again rose to its feet, but this time I was ready! With a boldness I did not feel I commanded it to flee in the name of our Goddess and the warmth of the fires of my land filled my spirit and burst forth as divine rebuke. Recoiling with its rotting hands covering empty eye-sockets the thing recoiled. And as it cowered My Hella removed its head properly this time.
With the creatures down and dead in truth we turned our attentions to the northern door. It was thick heavy wood and in good repair but fortune again smiled and at Ti’s touch it swung open revealing a room illuminated by a flickering torch or two. Three men stared back at us as surprised to see us it seems as we them. Two were in the process of about to break open a new door against the rooms eastern wall with a bundle of discarded lumber from among the rooms detritus.
Suddenly Ivarr called out. “Step into the light ans show yourself!” to whom I could not see but from out of the corner a savage elf strode his bow drawn tight and aimed at master Ivarr’s heart! With her warriors heart the sight of a sworn companion so menaced was all Hella needed! Her ax spun across the room and buried itself in the elfs breast, not before he could loose his shot but the sight of four and a half pounds of savage dwarf steel aimed at his face evidently spoiled his aim and the arrow sped past Ivarrs ear.
In moments we were upon the other three. Cutting two down bleeding from our blades. The last dropped his weapon and raised his hand showing some wisdom. As it had been ourselves that had struck the first blow naturally I accepted his surrender and we disarmed him and divers members of our group saw to the wounds of his unconscious fellows. To my surprise they all lived though the elf kin just barely. Still with a few days rest he would likely mend though he’d carry the mark of my loves accuracy with him for the rest of his days I’d warrant!
Looking about the room in the aftermath we could see no further threats, Though master Clancy espied a pair of leavers set into a recess in the wall near where the elf had stood. He proceeded to examine and attempt to fathom there purpose. At one point we thought a faint shift and tremor in the wall occurred perhaps indicating some machinery had been set or released? But we could not be certain that his efforts had drawn any result for now.
As I tended one of the fallen I half heard mistress Calistra interrogating our prisoner. Then the sound of a cry and a swung weapon distracted my chirugy. The fellow was fleeing for his life! But my outrage wa snot for his breach of parole! Nay rather I could see that Mistress Cal had struck at him with her weapon for what reason I could not discern but evidently she had attempted to dispatch the fellow!
he did not get far, as although his desperate rush had carried him past Ti and Ivarr and myself. My love lowered her pole ax and barred his escape. His moments hesitation was his undoing as the next time Calistra swung she blasted the fellow the floor with crushed ribs.
While master Ti checked his pulse we exchanged some strong words as to why a prisoner should be treated thus. But mistress Cal looked through me and merely shrugged suggesting we investigate the “Wizard” that these fellows had claimed to have cornered in the room yonder. Setting aside our disagreements for a while at least we eventually forced the door and inside a ruined and overturned armory a single defiant man in Wizardly robes challenged us to stay back lest he blast us with his power.
Assuring him I meant no harm to him as yet I offered to speak with him and after a few minutes conversation became convinced he was no more a wizard than I! More loon than Sage I deem the man had perhaps fallen foul of a Mage in the past and had aped his ways for his own benefit I deemed. His story and that of the rogues we subdued in the room without hardly matched but he mentioned having been “schooled” in his art by One Dark Odo a villain from our warrant! At least it seems we had confirmation that we had indeed found the location of one of the villains we were sent to apprehend! He claimed much in short, but seemed at best an unreliable witness. He did not strike me as the sort that a known Enchantress would share details of her art and the secret ways into her base (which he also claimed to know).
Clearly we had much to discuss (for I was still uneasy at the treatment of a surrendered man) so it was here we set our camp and braced the door while Master Clancy broke out some field rations and I tended the prisoners. After a rest perhaps we shall press on further int this pace or perhaps we should send these likely villains back to the proper authorities at Newsandport?