Pool of Evil
Brutarl was bored. He followed the tunnel to the dark grotto, followed by Moonshadow, Parius and (somewhat reluctantly) Skagharin and Dintari. The pool of dark water was surrounded by murals depicting men and women taking the healing waters. “Something Evil is here,” whispered Parius.
A watery female figure was standing in the centre of the pool, seemingly on the surface of the water. “Come, bathe in my waters!” she smiled.
Brutarl stepped into the water, much to the consternation of his colleagues.
“Come back, Brutarl,” said Parius.
At the cave entrance, Dintari and Skagharin began looping a lasso to capture the unruly barbarian and drag him from the pool if necessary.
Brutarl noticed some still bodies in the corner of the room. “What about those?”
The lady chuckled. “The healing waters…did not agree with them!”
Moonshadow nocked an arrow and aimed it at the watery woman, whose eyes had begun to glow like fire. Brutarl stepped back. Then Moonshadow loosed his arrow and all Hell broke loose. Watery tentacles streamed towards Brutarl and Parius, wrapping around Parius’ throat. Brutarl whipped his magical knife ZKKK and slashed one watery tentacle in half. Moonshadow’s bowstring broke and he and Brutarl decided to retreat from the watery monster. Parius nearly choked but Dintari and Skagharin dragged him back to the tunnel. Skagharin had seen plenty of half-drowned men; he immediately administered ‘Sailor´s Medicine’.
Brutarl, somewhat chastened, followed the others down the long draughty tunnel through which they suspected the evil skeleton-master priest had made his escape earlier. Dintari and Skagharin led the way, looking and listening. Their caution paid off. Dintari spotted a concealed pit with wooden planks pulled over on to the far side. Skagharin climbed around a small ledge and pushed the planks back to the others, who then crossed safely. Later, Dintari spotted a trip wire connected to a deadfall trap. While he and Skagharin debated whether to try to disarm it, Brutarl lost patience, stepped over the trip wire and continued along the corridor. Moonshadow and Parius followed. Skagharin listened to their footsteps for a while and heard no agonised screams; he and Dintari stepped over the wire and followed.
The passage ended at a trap door in the ceiling. Climbing the metal rungs, Skagharin found himself in a ruined tower. Moonshadow was staring into a dark doorway. Skagharin heard rustlings and scuttlings and saw webs within. “Spiders. Best shut the door.” But Moonshadow went in, waving a flaming torch. The spiders came, five of them as big as dogs. Moonshadow, Dintari and Skagharin fought them off quickly. Two tried to escape, but Dintari pierced one with a thrown dagger and Parius (weeping quietly) crushed one with his staff. Moonshadow found the husk of a corpse within, still wearing a gold ring.
The trapdoor had emerged in late afternoon in the woods just south of the stockade. Skagharin could see the vikings moving back and forth to their ship. He spotted Svein Karlssen, who told him they would be leaving on the morning tide. Skagharin was untired, but Moonshadow and Parius desired to rest so they returned to the stockade.
Return to the Pool
They awoke refreshed and descended the storeroom steps once more. This time they examined the boarded-up door in the round room. There was a stone corridor with six niches along it. At the end was a round room with a stone slab bearing a skeleton. At once a fearful apparition appeared.
“WHO DISTURBS MY REST? WHY CAN I NOT REST IN PEACE?” it demanded.
Parius, Brutarl and Moonshadow panicked and fled down the corridor. Only Skagharin and Dintari remained.
“Why can you not rest in peace, spirit?” asked Skagharin, unfazed by the spirits of human dead.
“ANOTHER CAME AND STOLE AWAY MY SKULL. THAT IS WHY I CANNOT REST.”
Skagharin thought. Six empty niches, six skeletons in the priest’s antechamber. “I think we can find your skull, spirit.”
“IF YOU DO THIS I WILL REWARD THEE”
Dintari and Skagharin hurried back to the round room, pausing to collect their cowering companions from one of the niches. They proceeded straight to the priest’s rooms and searched in vain for the missing skull.
“Maybe we could give him another skull?” suggested Skagharin.
“I think he would know the difference.” Years ago, as a caravan guard, Dintari had read rather too much of some old books, and he recalled references to evil rituals involving skulls which could contaminate an area. The pool! The source of the bane afflicting the island. The skull must be there.
How to get ahead
This time, there was a plan. Brutarl and Moonshadow would attack and distract attention while Skagharin and Dintari (whose weapons were in any case useless against the water creature) would try to find the skull. They entered the grotto. The woman stood there smiling as before, but the chatter was limited. Moonshadow immediately blasted her with his magic. This time it worked and she screamed with anger. The watery tentacles snaked from the pool toward Brutarl (brandishing ZKKK) and Moonshadow.
Skagharin was no sneak but he hoped that the watery thing’s attention was elsewhere as he moved closer to the dark water. He could see Dintari’s torch moving around on the other side of the chamber, and his friends battling the monster. Beyond the waterfall he spotted — a long ledge with a flash of something white. It had to be the skull. He climbed up on the slippery mural which ran around the cave, and made his way to the ledge. One of the watery tentacles lashed at him and he almost lost his balance, but then he grabbed the skull and ran towards Dintari’s torchlight. He clambered down. There was unearthly screaming and he could sense the water rising. The two ran for the exit, hoping the others were following. They did not stop running until they reached the spirit’s resting place.
Reward, and reward
“YOU HAVE RESTORED MY SKULL. NOW I MAY REST. BENEATH MY SLAB ARE MY WORLDLY GOODS. THEY ARE YOURS.”
Skagharin and Dintari lifted the slab and found a round shield, a short spear and a pair of bracers. They returned to the others where they found the grotto peaceful and calm, a much smaller trickle of water falling from the ceiling. Parius was wearing a big grin and babbling about the balance being restored and earth and water elementals and whatnot supernatural shenanigans. But Skagharin was pleased for his friend, and for himself. Things had worked out well.