Undead, dead and living dread
With the chamber secure it was the work of a few moments for Siegfried to find another hollow skull to open the door that Mordrin had missed. A narrow passage lay ahead.
Blunderbuss to the fore, Grundi scouted ahead again. Sneaking forward, he saw a statue of the Blood God on his brass throne, surrounded by piles of bones. Entering the chamber, the dwarf had barely had time to look left and right before he heard the rattle of bones. Looking round he saw bones rolling together to form an arm, a torso, legs; then a pair of skeletons lurched upright and began to advance towards him brandishing rusty swords.
Grundi retreated hastily. The skeletons followed relentlessly. And the party again demonstrated a grasp of tactics painfully learned. Everyone formed up around the exit from the passage. Meanwhile, like the automata they were, the skeletons advanced up the corridor. BOOM! Grundi's blunderbuss ripped through them. With no way out of the passage the 2 skeletons, and the 2 which followed them, were picked off one-by-one with little difficulty, and again the party tasted sweet victory.
Celebrations were cut short by the sound of stone scraping on stone from the chamber ahead. Nerves already stretched tight by the horrors faced so far were tautened just that bit further by the thought that luck might yet run out. Advancing, the party spied 2 doors. Turning left they found a room full of tattered and decaying trophies of war. Several valuable relics were found as the PC's rummaged through the detritus. Everyone resolved on returning them to their rightful owners, although Grundi had to be talked out of taking the beastman-headed helmet of a long-dead Master of the Knights Panther so that he could wear it himself.
And so it was that in the very last room in the tomb in the forest that the party found what they had come so far in search of: a large, polished black sarcophagus resting in yet another pool of blood. The pool was too wide for the PC's to be able to reach the lid of the sarcophagus to lift it clear, and by now everyone was deeply suspicious of any blood dedicated to the Blood God. A plan was quickly formed.
Siegfried took Grundi's blunderbuss (not without some grumbling on the aging dwarf's part it has to be said) and headed for the front entrance to stand guard. The rest of the party set to work fetching rubble from the fountain and other rubbish to lay out 2 platforms so that the dwarfs could get close enough to the sarcophagus to exericse leverage without testing the properties of the blood in the pool. Berthold meanwhile stood ready with a crossbow, to welcome anything that might appear out of the sarcophagus when it was opened.
The sarcophagus lid was very heavy; the dwarfs' footing was unsteady; their levers were crude: it was very hard work cracking open the lid so that it could be pulled off. Eventually though it slid with a liquid crash into the pool of blood. The PC's breathed a sigh of relief when nothing more dramatic happened. Looking inside the sarcophagus, they saw the dead Chaos Champion in a full suit of plate mail decorated in the black and red of the Blood God's devotees. He had a huge greatsword and a shield as well as the brass skull on a chain round his neck that the party had come all this way to recover.
Displaying a prudent regard for their souls everyone ignored the warrior's armour and weapons. Demonstrating the caution of an experienced adventurer, Mordrin hooked the skull amulet on the end of a rusty sword, and patiently worked the chain over the dead warrior's helmet. As he pulled it free Mordrin found the revolting icon to be unexpectedly heavy, and he almost dropped it. Retrieved, the brass skull was carefully removed and wrapped up in a tattered old banner from the trophy room without anyone touching it.
Dusk was drawing down as Berthold, Grundi and Mordrin rejoined Siegfried outside. The party took stock, and decided that this was no place to linger through the night. Without further ado they slung Father Odo over the back of Grundi's horse and set out for the journey back to Middenheim.
The party pressed on through the night, hoping to keep going until daylight. But forced-marching through a dense, dark forest was too much for Berthold, and they eventually had to stop after midnight. Prudence dictated a cold camp. Siegfried took the first watch, which passed uneventfully. He went to awaken Mordrin. Passing his companions asleep on the ground, Siegfreid spotted a gleam by someone's bedroll. To his amazement, it was the brass skull, which seemed to stare malevolently at the young man as he wondered how on earth the thing had got there.
Mordrin took on his watch, while Seigfried lay brooding, sleep a long way off. Time passed as it does in the night. Alert to the sounds of the forest, Mordrin was startled by the sound of restlessness and muttering from Father Odo, who had been asleep. The old priest had got to his feet. Mordrin went to find out what was going on. The blind priest ignored the dwarf and began to make a beeline for the sleeping Berthold, who was guarding the brass skull. Seigfried tried to intervene, but was brushed aside.
The next thing everyone knew, Odo had grabbed the Khornate icon and was wrestling with Berthold for its possession. Seemly entranced the old man was unrelenting. He was grabbed, he broke free. He was knocked down, he got up. He was punched and pummelled with the hilt of a dagger to no avail. Horrified and fearful, Siegfried was on the verge of slitting Odo's throat when the venerable father finally awoke.
The old man was evidently confused and afraid, and awakening from his trance to hear people discussing killing him or tying him up did nothing to settle his nerves. In the end the party chose simply to bind his hands so that he couldn't get up to any more tricks, or wander off. Although blind, Odo could evidently recognise voices, and he was obviously scared by the sound of Seigfreid's voice. The PC's noticed this, but no one seemed to give the priest's feelings much consideration. They had worries of their own.
The Shrine in the Forest
- #1 Dangerous dreams and buckets of blood
- The GM's reflections
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim