The ransacked manor
The goblins lay dead around the wreckage of the queen’s chamber. Parius hefted the supposed treasure-finding stick.
“It’s throbbing,” he said. “Pointing that way.”
Skagharin rolled his eyes but said nothing as the group followed Parius into the corridor. Treasure-finding sticks might be hocus-pocus, but treasure was treasure, especially if it was very close by. The stick led the group through a doorway in the old manor.
“The King’s chambers,” muttered crazy old Keestake. “We must show respect.”
The chambers were as strewn with debris as the rest of the manor. Parius, pointing the stick in front of him, came to a stop at an old broken desk. Skagharin looked it over and saw nothing but rubbish. “We’ve wasted enough time with this charlatan trick. Let’s get on.” Brutarl reached over the dwarf and opened the hidden compartment he had spotted. He pulled out a very well-made dagger (for human workmanship), miraculously sharp after all these years; and a potion which Parius identified as something which would benefit a warrior. He handed it to Moonshadow. [GM: Parius and Moonshadow both agreeed that the potion woould increase the prowess and stamina of a warrior while the effects lasted.]
The group followed their rambling guide Keestake to the other side of the manor down a long corridor, towards the entrance to the the catacombs supposedly filled with treasure and a boat. Catacombs held no fear for Skagharin; mere scratches in the earth. Deeper tunnels though…but best not to think of such things. Suddenly two Lizard Men appeared around a a bend in the corridor, armed with javelins. There was a tense silence as the wreck survivors faced the green scaly creatures, neither side attacking immediately.
“What do you here?” asked a Lizard Man in bad Common.
Dintari stepped forward. “We are minding our business. We mean you no harm, but do not obstruct us.”
“You come with us to our camp,” said the Lizard Man.
“No,” hissed Moonshadow. “We will not.”
“We go now. We come back with more numbers. We defeat you then.”
The Lizard Men beat a retreat. Moonshadow sneered and with a wave of his hand a magical arrow sped from his fingers and followed the departing Lizard Men around the corner.
Skagharin heard a yelp, then rapidly retreating footsteps. “We’d better keep moving,” he said. “Keestake – where’s the entrance to these catacombs?”
“Ah yes, the Scribe’s chamber..” murmured Keestake vaguely, “this way.”
The Scribe’s chamber was a mess of trash, just like all the other rooms in the manor. Large empty bookcases covered the far wall. “Push the button behind the bookcase!” burbled Keestake. Skagharin clambered up the bookcase, found the button, and pushed it. There was a slight movement of the bookcase, but then the concealed door got stuck. Skagharin, Brutarl, Dintari and Moonshadow gradually levered it open to reveal a chimney with rungs descending into darkness. There were sounds approaching from outside the room, so Skagharin descended first, scanning below for danger with his Darksight.
[GM: While Skagharin descended the others could hear the sounds of goblins approaching in the corridor outside, investigating the noises they could hear. Brutarl, Dintari and Moonshadow pushed the heavy bookshelf in front of the door, holding it place while the others descended. The goblins started pushing against the door and hacking it with their swords, yelling insults and threats. Dintari pushed against the bookshelf but the door was gradually being forced open. Brutarl fired his crossbow through the crack in the door and a loud yelp was heard as the bolt found a goblin. By now the others had climbed into the chimney, so Brutarl quickly followed.]
Into the catacombs
At the bottom was a large chamber divided into storage areas. Stacks of crates loomed dimly in the gloom. There were noises above as the others descended. Skagharin found a torch in a bracket and lit it. Keestake and Melisana descended into the room. “Is there a way to shut the door?” Skagharin asked the old man.
“Yes yes, the lever there on the wall.”
Skagharin waited until all the party had entered the room (Brutarl last). He pulled the lever. There was a crashing sound from above, and cries. A whoosh of dust came down the chimney. The chimney had been choked with rubble. When Skagharin turned back to the room Keestake had a strange look in his eyes.
“You fools! You thought I would just lead you down to the treasure of my noble King, in whose service I spent all my days? Why I myself prepared his body specially to live forever.” Somehow Keestake had acquired a dagger and now he lunged at Skagharin, who dodged nimbly. His time on board ships surrounded by skullduggerous sailors had not been for nothing. Moonshadow turned and whispered some incantation while Brutarl swung his arm and drove the King’s dagger straight up through Keestake’s jaw and into his brain with such force that the man was lifted from his feet. Blood dripped down Brutarl’s arm as the dagger clattered from Keestake’s lifeless fingers. There was shocked silence. Then Brutarl cast the body aside.
The silence in the catacombs was profound. Melisana turned her face away and Dintari looked bleak. Skagharin dusted himself off. The old man was mad. He might have trapped them in these dark rooms for nothing, or the ship might just be here somewhere. Time to start looking. Skagharin investigated a pile of crates which seemed to contain bricks. Crates of bricks? Made no sense until he noticed the thin trip wire across the passage. Traps, then. He backed off slowly.
Brutarl was not one for slow or careful. With long strides he crossed the chamber and swept back a tapestry concealing an exit passage. Skagharin spotted another trip wire but before he could warn the barbarian, he had snapped it; with a crumbling sound chunks of masonry and plaster collapsed from the roof, stunning the the barbarian.
When the dust cleared, the party moved forward into another large chamber similar to the first and again divided into three long partitions. The first was filled with crates. From the second could be heard the sound of squeaking rats. The third contained a well with the sound of rushing water below. An underground stream…going to the sea perhaps? Skagharin’s hopes of finding a boat in this benighted catacomb were rekindled.
Bored with such speculation, Brutarl strode off once again — and tumbled forward as the floor fell away beneath him. A pit trap! Fortunately the pantherine warrior managed to land on a ledge, from which he climbed to safety, somewhat winded. Again rushing water could be heard below. [GM: Skagharin’s memory is somewhat cloudy here. Brutarl noticed that the floor on a section of the coridorlooked unsafe. Being the man of action he is, he took a long run up and tried to leap over the section of cracked and loose flagstones. Unfortunately he misjudged and when he landed the floor gave way; stones, masonry and Brutarl fell into a dark pit. Here Brutarl’s luck held, and he landed painfully on a ledge. After catching his breath he was able to climb out of the hole. The others noticed that the floor adjacent to the wall was still intact and so could pass around the pit. Parius came to Brutarl’s aid and healed his bruises and scrapes.] Past the pit trap were a number of small cells, perhaps for monks or prisoners though all were empty — except for the last which was rigged with a rusty old crossbow aimed at the doorway. Skagharin ducked to avoid the crossbow bolt which had been aimed for a human height.
Empty rooms, then, but Skagharin’s sharp mind was ticking. Why lay traps except to protect or deter? How did all of those crates get down here? Surely not down the ladder chimney. The first pile of crates was a trap, but the second.. Skagharin led the way back to the nearest nook with the crates, and he, Dintari and Brutarl started shifting them. Sure enough a door was concealed behind, from which a fresh breeze emanated. Through the door was a long rough-hewn passage through the rock.
Sea King’s end
The passage led to a huge cavern. Skagharin could smell the sea. On one wall were several alcoves, and there was a large bricked-up opening on another wall. From something Keestake had said, Skagharin assumed the niches contained the tombs of the sea king and queen. There were plaques near the alcoves. Surely it would do no harm to merely read them. Skagharin moved to investigate. From the tombs two livid corpses rose, the tattered — and armed — bodies of the Sea King and Queen, to punish transgressors.
Skagharin and Dintari attempted to fight the zombie queen. Finding their daggers rather ineffective, they tried hurling flaming torches. Meanwhile Brutarl and Moonshadow took on the Sea King, who was armoured and wielded a mighty mace. This weapon smashed Brutarl between the legs so hard that he was lifted off his feet and lay sprawled and groaning. Moonshadow’s blows glanced off the King’s armour. Skagharin and Dintari managed to hack the queen so much that she could no longer move. Parius laid his hands upon Brutarl and called upon the gods to heal him. The gods must have listened. Brutarl leaped to his feet and stabbed the Sea King with his own dagger through a chink in his armour; punched right though the rotting flesh beneath and out the other side. The Sea King tottered to his knees and collapsed in the sand.
Leaving Brutarl to strip the long-dead corpse of its armour, Skagharin investigated the other tomb and found the promised boat: a funereal longship complete with the dead body of a prince, piled high with weapons, armour and treasure. Then he, Dintari and Moonshadow removed the bricks from the sea cave wall. Beyond: an underground beach, grey sea and the glare of sunlight from the exit.
Putting to sea in the longship, Skagharin found the thing a bit of a beast to handle. To his surprise, Melisana was able to hoist the mainsail with ease. Skagharin frowned. Full of surprises, that lass. Must keep an eye on her, he thought. The winds whipped the boat as it moved away from the island and Skagharin assumed Lassa had been fickle — as she often was. But as they moved further the winds around them calmed somewhat. Not around the island though. Many huge typhoons engulfed it; the sky darkened and the wind shrieked. Skagharin glimpsed rubble, trees and boulders flying up into the sky and maybe even — he was unsure — small figures also. What was unmistakable, and made him clutch the stern rail till his knuckles turned white, was the vast, vengefully intent face of the Goddess Lassa in the dark clouds spread across the horizon.