We woke up slightly groggy but alive. Considering the conditions getting any sleep at all was no small feat. The barricade of Orc savages was hacked down and we made our way to the pits. No one seemed to be around the orcs no doubt has fled deeper into their small kingdom. Some more agile than others jumped across the pit while Gregor, Ursala, and our dwarven guide showed little skill in jumping across the gap since they all fell in. Gottri simply jumped down making no idea of being able to jump across. But since his destination was planned he took no damage and simply climbed up the other side as others were tossed rope. Everyone was out of the pit before anyone realized our guide, now unconscious had no one to wake him up or carry him out. No one else wanted to climb down and ideas of volunteering me to dutifully climb down from Kirsten got a wry laugh out of me. Fashioning a lasso from one end of the rope I snagged the stout fellow around the waist jerking it tight before pulling him up. I might not be a wizard but I’m far from a simpleton.
After providing first aid healing to Gregor, Ursala, and our now conscious dwarven guide I found Kirsten already trying to track the trail of the escaping orcs. Pointing out the dried dark blood made things quicker and we soon came to an intersection. The dried blood trailed off the left while the path straight lead into darkness, the path to the right though had some lighting. This sparked my interest. Gottri grumbled since it meant losing the chance to finish off the orcs. I pointed out that whatever orcs wouldn’t go was either a good place for us to be or a good fight waiting to happen. Worst case scenario the orcs would amass a small army to fight him which meant more greenskins for him to kill. This satisfied the dwarf’s bloodlust for now and we moved in. None of us could read greenskin and the sigils on the wall speared with blood or other bodily materials showed dark red and brown and ended in what looked like a cave in. Gottri cursed and grumbled demanding we turn back. Our guide pointed out the cave in was by design and not down by dwarves considering the hasty shoddy job done. A few hours later we had pulled away the small cave in enough for Wertha to use her cat to scout ahead. The cat didn’t seem to like the area but was unharmed so we decided to delve into the tunnel widening it so those of the larger than a cat sized members of our group could get in as well.
What was revealed was revealed was dwarven ruins. A small hall with dwarven statues and a well worked dwarven path of stone lead to a door. The fact the orcs had taken the time to block it off meant they probably hand not looted the area. Gottri took offense to exploring dwarven ruins and looting anything we found until I reminded him most of us could not handle the ancient dwarven spirits we might find that might be strong enough now to strip the leather belt from his belt buckle or just get a human drunk from the smell. With a wry eye he agreed to see what happened but still had his mind and heart set on a good fight.
Kirsten walked forward until I stopped her and asked something practical, thoughts of scouting out the area for traps still seemed new and shocking to her and she dismissed it with a look of superiority and a matter of fact, maybe just mind over manner. If you thought there were no traps there wouldn’t be any, but personally if you thought there were no traps and one went off it would still hurt quite a bit.
Without looking away I asked the dwarves if they had an issue with greenskins as dwarves would you booby trap doors to your fortress. They both agreed immediately to which I added rubbing the dust from the ground a question of how long the traps would last. Gory and Gottri both had a bout of laughter bellow out of them before explaining they’d last until they were sprung. Dwarves supposedly didn’t build anything if not to last the test of time and by dwarven standards that meant the traps might have been made before the empire was founded but they’d still be as accurate and deadly as the day they were made. I shrugged and smiled declaring Kirsten to be the more proficient in these things and that I’d trust in her decision on what she did and that I’d followed. She noticed how far back I got before gesturing she could continue at her leisure though.
This got her nervous since she really hadn’t seen any indications of traps My comment about traps being hidden and hidden well by dwarves inside the stone working which dwarves are well known to be masters of got more than a bead of sweat or two to form. Doubt quickly set in as she hastily tried to volunteer one of us scanning the group of shaking heads before suggesting Gory our guide check out the door. He jerked and stammered a bland excuse until Gottri shoved him forward muttering about him being an embarrassment. As soon as he touched the door in the still of the room we all heard the click and he jumped away from the door as a large slab of rock slammed down like a battering ram breaching a gate. Gory scrambled to his feet and straightened himself out. I looked at Rudi and we both clapped commenting on that he must have done it that way to show us the trap he had obviously saw. Personally I think he heard the trap go off and he just didn’t want to die.
Kirsten already had a pick out ready to start breaking up the rock. I reminded her of the pit trap and the secondary pit trap to which she slowed down. My practical nature was wearing her down as she blurted out slightly frustrated what I thought we should do if I was so versed in dwarven traps. After discussing it with the two dwarves and using most of our rope we pulled the large slab of rock away between five of our party from back in the Orc tunnels. As soon as we did the sound of crossbow bolts fired in heavy suppression. We came back into see the way cleared of rock but layered instead from crossbow bolts from the looks of it that were fired from both walls and the ceiling hidden in the natural flow of the rock faces. Rudi had spent his time sketching the dwarven statues as we worked out the stone slab. He now pried up a handful of the bolts that was still intact.
As we clamber in now on the lookout for traps every few steps Gottri and Gory dropped to a knee and grunted. We stopped and spun around thinking a trap had gone off but the two had seen a vision. The room we were in had been a courtroom when the fortress was still thriving. Two women were being dragged to a pyre supposedly for bring ‘this evil’ upon the dwarves of the city. They said they had heard their screams of fear, agony, and rage. We all stared at the pyre still in the room. The room grew colder and we felt something else was in the room with us. Kirsten muttered something along the lines of Banshees that wailed dragging away the souls of men that were deafened by their wails. Gottri found two large rat turds and jammed them into his ears before replacing his helm to our shock and horror. Rudi suggested the rest of us just use cloth to which we all agreed.
The wailings ghosts appeared as we got close to the pyre and Rudi’s shot from his rifle was the first thing to hit one of them. It passed right through her without any notice. Rudi swore as I shot an arrow as well and really out it was no good. Kirsten lashed out with her ax and went off balance from the effort of the swing through midair it seemed. Ursala yelled the need for Magically blessed weapons was needed. Kirsten grumbled on her ax having been ‘blessed’ to which I countered ‘Magically’ is differently than ‘Religously’. Kirsten asked Wertha if she could borrow her staff as Gottri slashed into the closed Banshee with a wicked roar that surprised the ghost before she let out a wail of pain and shock. Kirsten now with Wertha’s staff lunged shoving it into the other beasts gut area and pummeled the confused banshee. The fight was short lived and we rested as Kirsten performed last rights for the women putting them eternal to rest. We found a few baubles of jewelry and coins until we made our way into the next room. This time the visions hit us all.
A small group of dwarves were still alive in the fortress, several more dead, a larger number still of dead greenskins littered the area but the hoard of green skins enveloped them and eventually the slashing and hacking of weapons stopped. As we entered the next room the bodies of five dwarves got up and muttered a gravelling warning to turn back. Kirsten offered to perform last rights and put them to rest which not only got their view narrowed, it caused them to launch themselves at us in a fury charge from the long since dead dwarves. Fortunately we didn’t need magically blessed weapons for them and we quickly downed them as well. Rudi and I chided Kirsten reminding her a priest of a foreign god stopping you from protecting your city much like you did in life is a good way to piss off a dwarf so dedicated to clan and city that even in death he did his job. Being told by people who were not members of the Morr Clergy on how to handle the dead kept Kirsten’s lips tight and her eyes on fire. We found a bit of coins and scalps from greenskins tied together which explained why the cave being blocked. With Gottri and Gory’s assistance she delivered last rights on the fallen.
The next room seemed similar to the last room in size and structure. The ten squat stout zombies with large beards, armor, and axes was a new addition. Kirsten attempted to hail them but from their mannerism and mindless almost instinctual actions Gottri quickly muttered we need to put them to rest. Dispatching them seemed simple enough, slower and less dangerous than the ghosts we had seen before but they fell as well to the fervor of our battle rhythm. Kirsten with the help of Gottri and Gory’s assistance delivered last rights on the fallen. Wertha seemed excited about a book, a grimmoirie which seemed out of place among the ruins of a dwarven city. Rudi and I found minor heirloom nick nacks. Kirsten found a fossilized Cookie. Gottri found an ornate Stone box with a fossilized Elven Heart in it. He and Gory shared some private dwarven joke it seemed since they both chuckled slightly.
The next room was considerably larger and showed that even dwarven architecture although lavish in its simplistic beauty could be marred though. It was some sort of temple to a dwarven god, or it had been. Blood smears on pillars and a pile of orc bodies stacked as if to make a bonfire to the side of the altar didn’t take attention away from the altar entirely. I’m not really sure what was left on the altar but it was probably living once upon a time. Wertha coughed suddenly and we noticed she was still in the doorway to the room holding her up. She mentioned the taste of ash in her mouth, dark magic, and necromancy was done to the dwarves possibly here on the altar that had been defiled. Darker magic loomed from someplace deeper down our path. She mentioned a vision of death reapers ravaging the dying and we’d need magically blessed weapons. She blessed several weapons quickly and Kirsten marched down to the altar Gottri a little behind her. She beckoned for me to follow or Rudi and Gregor but we declined snaking around the edge of the room looking for a vantage point once combat started. Wertha and Ursala cried out together when Gottri and Kirsten had walked within a foot of the black cloaked visions in front of them. We couldn’t see them at first but they seemed to appear out of the shadows gaining mass and pushing out an aura of unholy cold and hunger. The five wraiths tried to surround Gottri and Kirsten but between the ranged attacks their numbers were whittled down to an almost fair fight you would think. Too bad Gottri doesn’t play fair, he just kills… or whatever happens to the undead when you kill them. We found nothing in this room really but we did take the time to reconcegrate the altar and grounds between Kirsten, Ursala, and myself.
The next room seemed to be a vast dwarven crypt, as we walked through the middle of the room since Kirsten lead we saw an ornate tomb ahead that seemed defiled as well. Something seemed to beckon us closer and I stopped, Rudi and Gergor did as well and Wertha and Ursala stopped as I put a hand in front of them. Kirsten whispered in a harsh tone to come on and I refused since considering any situation where we were compelled it probably wasn’t a good idea to go forward. The voice in our head suddenly telling us to come closer only backed up my claim. Kirsten yelled out a challenge that it should come to us. It said it would grant her wish as skeletons rushed us from all sides. I called out a thanks to Kirsten as we dropped these undead as well a figure on the distant side of the room in the shadows laughed. When we finished off the skeletons we turned to where the figure had been but it was gone. We gave last rights to the skeletons and took a break wondering on what we’d see next.