The ruins were quiet except for the trickle of water from the carved mouth near the well. Sir Grimble Bobbleberry, Zagro the Warlock and Aldo of the Brilliantly Coloured Robe enjoyed the sunshine while they considered their next foray into Gallows Wood. They had not been thus pondering long before they heard a loud crashing and clumping from the path to the south. From the dark trees emerged a huge Ogre, clutching his head and looking decidedly green about the gills. The three intrepid heroes hid bravely behind a crumbling wall. Zagro peeked out and saw the Ogre slurping water loudly from the well, belching and moaning about his colossal hangover. Aldo wanted to slay the thing but Sir Grimble would have none of it — perhaps it was honour or merely sympathy for a another creature suffering from alcohol poisoning. In time the giant fell a-snoring by the well, and the three crept out and followed the path southwards.
Back in the perpetually dim woods they passed a mysterious faery circle where no vegetation grew, and picked their way carefully around the perimeter. They emerged from the woods to see a ridge. On top of the ridge was a large nest and above that circled several Harpies, crying harshly. Zagro knew that these vicious creatures might well have treasures in their nest, but up on the cliff face they had a distinct advantage. He suddenly whispered a clever idea to Sir Grimble, who smiled and pulled out the harpy heads he had grabbed as trophies a couple of nights past. Aldo and Zagro impaled the heads on their spears and began a gruesome pantomime as they moved towards the hill. Sure enough, two of the harpies flew down to investigate and were swiftly impaled themselves. The remaining couple of harpies harried them as they climbed the cliff but were eventually slain or driven off. Unfortunately Zagro stumbled and fell, hurting his ankle a little. But Aldo and Sir Grimble returned as expected with some treasure from the nest.
Beyond the harpies’ nest the forest thinned out and they found the road as dusk thickened. The body of a monk hung in a gibbet at a grim gallows by the roadside. Sir Grimble realised the man still lived, and cut him down. There were sinister twitterings in the evening gloom and suddenly Zagro made out the gleam of inhuman eyes surrounding them. “Give him to us,” hissed the voices. They were ghûls, eaters of the dead. Grimly, Aldo and Zagro lowered their spears and Sir Grimble on his warhorse raised his sword. The ghûls attacked ferociously. It was a hard fight. Zagro and Sir Grimble were wounded and tired. Zagro had very little magic. Aldo stabbed ghûl after ghûl — so many that Zagro admiringly called him Ghûl-killer. Eventually, the foul creatures lay scattered on the ground around the gallows in the darkness.
Aldo revived the monk but he was too far gone. He talked of a haunted island monastery in the river to the south where a holy cup could be found. Then he died. By now it was night and the three needed rest. They rode up the road toward the ruined villa with the subterranean temple, knowing it was a safe hideout. They rested and healed and in the morning returned to the gallows and headed south.
Sure enough, they soon came to the river bank and saw the island. A rowboat lay waiting, but Sir Grimble had to leave his faithful black warhorse behind. The island was peaceful and dotted with ruins. They came to a ruined chapel with no roof. There on the altar was a silver cup. Cautiously they approached it and Aldo took the cup. Nothing happened, so they hotfooted it back to the boat. This time they rowed to the south bank. They heard the howls of wolves and several of the creatures bounded into the clearing. But a well-aimed dragonbreath spell, and arrow fire drove them off. Aldo remembered that Hobgoblins were associated with wolves. Soon the tracks led them to a well, just like the one Ned the Hobgoblin had jumped down into and disappeared.
They descended the well with Sir Grimble’s rope and found an iron door in the side. They pushed it open and found themselves in a chamber filled with stolen rubbbish from the village. Behind a screen came a cry for help — the voice of the landlord’s daughter. Suspicious of Ned’s tricks, Zagro asked a few more questions of the lass before he released her, to make sure of her identity. Then the real Ned showed up and the battle was joined. Ned used some crafty spells but he was no match for the doughty heroes.
Ned was soon dead
They severed his head
And rode back to the village for tea.