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    Origins Of The Silver Wolf: A Light In The Dark, Part Four
    Posted on Tue, July 23, 2013 by Ullmaster
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    Soon their cries faded, as did the laughter. The fog and steam died away soon after that as well, until all that was left were the lifeless and maimed corpses that were the only things in the cave to begin with. 

    “You seem quite the collection of travelers,” Seline said to Amyalla as the group continued walking down the trail. “Where are you from?”

    “The Duchy of Urnst,” Amyalla replied, “and well glad to be rid of it. Now I go wherever my feet will take me.”

    “And you both?” Seline extended her smile towards Airk and Revafour.

    “Flinthold, in the Lortmil Mountains,” Airk replied calmly. “And you?”

    Seline fell silent, looking back at Luna.

    “We’re from further east,” Luna replied, “beyond Nyrond.”

    “So, you’re Aerdi, then?” Revafour spoke up, an edge in his voice.

    “Where are you from?” Seline asked him in response.

    “Tenh,” Revafour said. “And, am I to conclude that you’re Aerdi?”

    Seline fell silent, looking to Luna.

    “It’s not something we’re proud of,” she said quietly, twisting her fingers around the holy symbol of Pelor that hung from her neck.

    “I should think not,” Revafour raised an eyebrow. His eyes passed over Ma’non’go at that moment, and no one missed the disapproving gaze that flickered across Revafour’s face as he considered the other large man.

    Ma’non’go himself scowled angrily, breathing more heavily, as Weimar frowned reproachfully at Revafour.

    “What was that about?” Weimar asked, as the group briefly stopped.

    “I don’t see how it’s your concern,” Revafour replied bluntly, crossing his arms.

    “Well, I want to make it my business,” Weimar shot back. “And by the looks of it, so does my large friend,” he noted, indicating the angry look on Ma’non’go’s face.

    “Very well then,” Revafour replied, his own eyes flashing. “I should like to know why you can call yourself a priestess of Pelor and yet have a slave following you around. A mute one, no less.”

    “I somehow doubt that he’s a slave,” Amyalla tried to intervene, as she saw the tension rapidly growing between them. “Surely not?”

    Ma’non’go shook his head vigorously, pointing at Revafour and then back at himself, before gesturing that they should step away from the rest of the group. He signed something to Luna and Seline, who nodded.

    “You’re sure?” Seline asked, and Ma’non’go nodded. The large southerner then looked at Revafour expectantly. Revafour looked back at Airk and Amyalla, both of whom seemed very uncomfortable with the way things were going. Frowning, he agreed to follow Ma’non’go, leaving his sword behind as Ma’non’go dropped his trident. The two men went some distance away, sitting down on a large fallen tree as they spoke.


    To Revafour’s surprise, Ma’non’go took a pot of ink, a quill and a roll of parchment from his backpack, which he set out as he prepared to write. Revafour sat in silence for a moment as Ma’non’go wrote out on the parchment, before holding it up for him to read.

    Why do you ask such questions? Ma’non’go had written on the parchment.

    “I should think it obvious,” Revafour replied. “You are their slave, are you not?”

    No, I am not, Ma’non’go wrote in reply. I protect Luna and Seline because I owe their father my life, and I have pledged my word to guard his children so long as I am able. They fled their homes and lost everything they had, and so they have needed my protection. Why do you jump to such immediate and wrong conclusions about my relationship with them? I can see your hostility-we all can. From what does it stem?

    “Surely you know of the betrayals, the mistreatment and the broken promises our people have suffered,” Revafour replied, somewhat incredulous that Ma’non’go would not be aware of them. “Even now, in far too many cases, we suffer the same oppression and abuse.”

    I am not of the Flan, Ma’non’go informed him, although I am all too aware of the suffering of your people. I come from the south, beyond the Flanaess, born in the city of X’tandelexamenka in the land the peoples of the Flanaess call Hepmonaland. I am also all too acquainted with betrayal-betrayal by those I thought were my friends and allies, who dishonored me, took my entire life away from me, and left me for dead in the merciless jungles. It was Luna and Seline’s father who found me and nursed me back to health. None of the local people in the part of the jungle where I was abandoned would have me, so I had little recourse but to return to Aerdy with Lord Roas. He gave me a home, and now I repay his hospitality, as is my duty of honor as an X’tandelexamenkan.

    “And you’ve never returned home?” Revafour asked in surprise. “You don’t seek vengeance?”

    There is nothing there for me anymore, Ma’non’go wrote, the bitterness clearly spelled out on his face. I could do nothing against them even if I wanted to.

    “Why do you not speak?” Revafour asked, his demeanor softening. “Is it because of…”

    It is because of the trauma and betrayal I have endured, Ma’non’go wrote, as a look of sadness crossed his face. Would that I could talk again, but until I can I must communicate by quill and parchment, or by the hand signs that Lord Roas taught me. I have nothing and no one else but those two children I am pledged to guard.

    “…How unfortunate,” Revafour finally said. “I should apologize for misjudging you.”

    It was not through malice that you do so, Ma’non’go assured him, as a contemplative look came over his face. I should ask, though-why are you so concerned about such matters when you yourself wield a broadsword and plate armor that are so clearly of Oeridian make? If you so abhor what the newer arrivals to the Flanaess have done, why do you continue to use their tools?

    “I don’t see myself as having much choice in the matter,” Revafour sighed. “And I would be a fool to fault everything the Oerids and the Suel have done, particularly when I see the beauty and elegance of their own art and their stories.”

    You enjoy such things as well? Ma’non’go wrote with a smile. Then you will surely enjoy the company of Luna and Seline.

    “And what of the blonde man, Weimar?” Revafour asked, his brief smile vanishing.

    He has proven his courage and his loyalty, Ma’non’go nodded, a businesslike expression on his face. I have seen no reason to doubt him.

    Revafour nodded, with the same expression on his face as they got up from the tree they were sitting on. However, once Ma’non’go had packed up his writing supplies and they had begun walking back towards the group, the expression on his face was much more serene and contemplative.



    “Is he always like that?” Weimar asked Airk and Amyalla as the rest of the group waited for Revafour and Ma’non’go to return.

    “Not always, but I can sympathize,” Airk replied before Amyalla could speak up. “I noticed it struck a sore point with you, too.”

    “That’s because Revafour was being unfair,” Weimar replied, trying to stay calm.

    “Are you sure that was all it was?” Airk asked, noticing the way Weimar looked away from him.

    “Please, do we need to be arguing like this?” Seline protested, as Amyalla glared reproachfully at man and gnome. “We have more important problems to deal with, and we need each other’s help!”

    Airk and Weimar looked at one another again, before they nodded.

    “I mean no insult,” Airk said, more calmly this time. “Rather, I ask more out of curiosity. You seem rather more interested in the matter than I would have thought.”

    “Too many people have insulted my Keoish heritage in the past,” Weimar muttered. “It’s not something I appreciate.”

    “Few people would,” Airk nodded. “I’ve had enough dwarves looking down their beards at me to know what it’s like.”

    “You’ve had dwarves looking down on you?” Luna asked curiously.

    “Aye, all too often,” Airk frowned. “I take it you humans have heard of the Hateful Wars?”

    They nodded in response.

    “Few humans know anything about those wars but what the dwarves have said about it,” Airk explained. “Suffice to say that the dwarves were not always the most faithful of allies. Nor were our fellow gnomes, for that matter.”

    “Your fellow gnomes?” Seline’s eyes widened.

    “Oh yes,” Airk replied, a look of disgust crossing his face. “I know all too well what it’s like to be betrayed by one of your own.”

    “So do I,” Amyalla spoke up, as she’d listened to the conversation with interest. “It’s why I would prefer to avoid ever returning to Urnst, if at all possible.”

    Luna and Seline looked at one another at that.

    “What’s wrong?” Amyalla asked curiously.

    Seline looked as though she didn’t want to say anything, and Luna spoke up for her.

    “Being Aerdi isn’t exactly something we’re proud of, particularly when our noble house got into a conflict with a rival and our father was murdered. The other noble house tried to claim us as ‘compensation’ for the wrongs they said our family did, and so we had to flee for our lives with Ma’non’go,” she explained, pain in her eyes as she recounted the unpleasant memories.

    “And yet, how young are you? No child should ever have to go through that,” Airk shook his head sadly.

    Seline only smiled sadly back at the gnome, mouthing her thanks as Revafour and Ma’non’go came up to rejoin them.

    “Well?” Amyalla asked promptly.

    “I should apologize for my forwardness,” Revafour finally said. “Suffice to say I’ve had some bad experiences.”

    “You’re far from the only one,” Amyalla smirked.

    “It’s quite alright,” Seline assured him in Flan. Revafour’s mouth fell open in surprise, not having expected Seline to reply to him in Flan.

    “Shall we continue?” she asked, this time in the common tongue.

    The band resumed their march, each of them thinking over what they had just heard from their new companions.



    Dusk was approaching on the horizon, so the adventurers decided to make camp for the night. It did not take long before they had a fire going, and began to prepare a meal.

    “Anyone else for a bit of Big Cedar Log?” Weimar asked, as he pulled the bottle of stout out of his backpack. “The dwarves of Gryrax swear by it, or so they say.”

    Revafour only raised an eyebrow as he took a drink from his waterskin.

    “You only drink water, eh?” Weimar sighed. “You don’t know what you’re missing, my friend.”

    “Perhaps you’d prefer some tea?” Luna offered Revafour instead. “It’s a new blend-I mixed in some good Celenese herbs.”

    “Also bought in Gryrax?” Revafour raised an eyebrow as he accepted the cup Luna gave him and took a sip of it. “Even though Celene is an elven realm?”

    “What can I say?” Luna grinned wryly. “I want to buy, and the dwarves are always ready to sell. What do you think?”

    “Good, very good,” Revafour nodded approvingly. “It goes well with supper,” he indicated, pointing at the wild boar steaks that were now roasting over the fire.

    “Don’t you think you put too much spice on them, though?” Seline pointed out. “I mean, it seems like rather a lot.”

    “You just always say that,” Luna shot back teasingly. “I take it you’re having your tenderloin strips and apples again?”

    “Why wouldn’t I?” Seline shot back. “You always make dinner so spicy. It’s almost as bad as half the tea recipes you come up with!”

    “Are you sure you should be an adventurer?” Amyalla spoke up, raising an eyebrow. “You have the palate of a princess who’s never been out of her castle in her life!”

    “Is it too much to ask that at least some of the food we eat doesn’t burn our tongues off?” Seline shot back.

    “Yes, yes it is,” Weimar pronounced authoritatively.



    Airk merely rolled his eyes at the bantering humans and halfling, smiling slightly as he sat some distance away on a rock, looking out at the sunset as he sipped at the tankard of stout Weimar had been gracious enough to pour him. At first he didn’t react as he heard the footsteps approaching behind him, but as he looked up he saw the towering form of Ma’non’go coming to join him. The tall southerner pointed at himself, and then at the rock, as Airk nodded at him. Ma’non’go sat down to join the gnome, before pulling out his familiar quill, ink and parchment.

    You do not desire the company of the others? Ma’non’go wrote.

    “Of course I do,” Airk nodded. “There’s something to be said for just enjoying the sunset, though. It’s a beautiful evening, especially with the breeze.”

    I could do without it, Ma’non’go wrote in reply. I’m not all that fond of the cold, as you can probably imagine.

    “No doubt,” Airk nodded. “On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t do as well in your homeland, either. Far too hot and rainy, I presume?”

    “You don’t like the rain?” Luna asked as she came over to join them, giving Airk and Ma’non’go each a share of the boar steaks.

    “Not in the least,” Airk shuddered. “More particularly, I abhor getting wet.”

    “You’re hardly the only one,” Luna assured him. “Seline always used to mock me for hating stormy weather.”

    I should say that neither of you realizes what you’re missing, Ma’non’go pointed out. One of the things I always used to enjoy was the pleasures of swimming.

    Airk and Luna only looked at Ma’non’go, then at each other, frowning all the while.

    As I said, neither one of you realizes what you’re missing, Ma’non’go finished, a smile playing around his lips, before he put down his writing materials and picked up his food.



    Night came and the adventurers fell to sleep, but soon enough they got a very rude awakening indeed. They had camped on a hill so they could get a better view of any potential attackers, but the creatures attacking the camp had been stealthy indeed, their black hides giving them all the cover they needed. All of a sudden, nearly fifty pairs of eyes glinted in the firelight, as their owners charged up the hill. The monsters released a nightmarish howl that cut through the night like a razor, and the adventurers were fortunate indeed to ready their weapons as the horrors sprang upon them.

    The vicious, two-headed hounds that were attacking the adventurers were referred to as death dogs, and they more than lived up to their name. Over four feet high at the shoulder, with two huge heads bristling with sharp-edged fangs, the death dogs were coal black in color, howling balefully as they sprang at their prey. There were almost thirty of the foul things, and they had the adventurers completely surrounded.

    For all that he had been suddenly aroused from sleep, Revafour felt no exhaustion as the battle lust overcame him. Eagerly, he swung his sword at the first dog to leap at him, determined to show his new companions how a Tenha warrior could fight. His strike cut the first dog nearly in two, the huge blade coming down between the dog’s heads and cleaving its spine. Tearing his sword free, Revafour swung at the next one and tore a gash in one of its heads, but the creature managed to avoid the worst of the blow and sank the fangs of its other head deep into Revafour’s arm as he withdrew the sword. Cursing, Revafour struck again, severing both of the death dog’s heads in a single blow, even as he felt a burning agony in his arm.

    Ma’non’go stood protectively in front of Seline as she chanted and gestured. He skewered one of the death dogs on his trident and kept two more at bay as Seline finished her spell, the tallow, powdered iron and sulphur in her hands consumed by the spell. A ball of fire sprang into life, and Seline pointed at the death dogs, an angry look on her face. The fiery sphere flew past Ma’non’go and blasted into one of the dogs, incinerating one of its heads and badly scorching the other one. The creature yelped and turned to flee, trying to hide behind its kin, but Seline merely gestured and the sphere blasted through the death dogs that were trying to shield it, killing three of them and wounding several more as they tried to flee.

    Luna and Airk had been on watch when the death dogs attacked, and so they were fully equipped to deal with the creatures. Airk deflected the bites of one dog with his shield and tore out one of its throats with his military pick, killing the creature with the sheer shock of the blow. He then lashed out at the next dog, but the creature was too cunning for that and dodged out of the way before it lunged at him. Snapping upwards with one head to keep Airk from striking back, its other head sank its teeth into Airk’s leg, causing him to yell in pain even as he felt a burning agony rise up from it. Cursing, he struck at the creature again, but he only managed a glancing blow as it danced out of the way.

    Amyalla had slashed one of the dogs attacking her with her dagger, cutting a long gash at its back, but the creatures were well-used to attacking in packs. Another one charged at her, snapping at her legs, even as the first one lured her forward. The bite was a shallow one, but it caused Amyalla to lose her balance and she fell forward, barely managing to land on her knees as the first dog lunged at her once again. Amyalla got her dagger up in time to slash both of the dog’s throats, but as it fell back it took her dagger with it. Pulling another one from her belt, Amyalla tried to turn around as the other dog lunged at her, but it was immediately halted as Luna bashed one of its heads in with her mace. The dog yelped, and Luna soon put it out of its misery as Amyalla got to her feet.

    Another dog attacked Luna, and she turned to confront it, even as Airk finally cut down the dog he had been fighting with. Two more came at him, one demanding all of his attention as the other one tried to spring at him from behind. Amyalla turned the tables on that one as she struck at it from behind, springing onto the dog and cutting both of its throats one after another. Giving her a sideways glance, Airk winked at her as he buried his military pick in one of the heads of the dog he was fighting, killing it instantly.

    Four of the vicious dogs had fallen to Revafour, and they approached him more warily this time, now respecting his huge broadsword. Nearby, Weimar was chopping away with his axe, cutting down a third dog, but the fourth one he battled had more luck. Before Weimar could act, the dog bit him deeply in the leg, causing him to cry out in pain and fall to one knee. The dog lunged at him, ready to rip his throat and face off, but Revafour’s blade came in from the side and he cut the monster almost in two. Weimar only grinned at Revafour, and the taller man nodded back stoically.

     The remaining death dogs, seeing so many of their number wounded and dying, howled angrily as they began to flee. Weary from the conflict, the adventurers looked around at each other, and Luna promptly dropped her mace and shield as she walked up to Weimar, Airk, Amyalla and Revafour.

    “Sit down,” she ordered them all in a calm but intense voice. As they did so, Luna walked up to Revafour, placing her hand on his arm as she began to chant. A blue and gold glow suffused her hand, sending a wonderful soothing feeling up Revafour’s arm. Once Luna withdrew her arm, the bite mark was gone, leaving only the faint traces of a scar. She repeated the process with Airk, Amyalla and Weimar in turn, although Revafour, Weimar and Airk still seemed uncomfortable.

    “It’s still burning,” Airk cursed. “I don’t know why, but-“

    “Death dogs are abhorrent creatures,” Luna frowned in disgust. “Their bites can often transmit disease.”

    “Damn it all,” the gnome cursed. “How much time do we have?”

    “More than it will take for me to heal you,” Luna assured him. “I’d do it now, but I don’t have the right magic to do it. I’m sorry,” she said, her calm façade breaking with concern. “It’s just that-“

    “Do not worry about it,” Revafour assured her. “It is nothing.”

    “I’ll deal with it in the morning,” Luna promised, a pained look on her face. “I promise.”

    “I don’t need it,” Amyalla grinned, “so save your power for the men. Halflings don’t get sick easily, after all.”

    “Lucky you,” Airk grumbled, as he moved to take off his armor. “You’ll need all your strength, considering it’s your watch, after all.”



    Luna rose at dawn to commune with Pelor, and she was as good as her word in curing Revafour’s, Weimar’s and Airk’s illnesses. After a brief meal, the company set off once again, now only a few hours’ march from the Bearded Lord’s Hollow.

    It was close to noon, with the Bearded Lord’s Hollow only a few kilometres away, that the adventurers heard the child’s sobbing. Looking around curiously, Seline spotted the little girl hiding in the bushes, covered in dirt and wearing tattered rags for clothes. Her body was covered in bruises, and she was hugging her legs, her chin resting on her knees, as she sobbed quietly. As the adventurers approached, she looked up in fear, before a look of surprise crossed her face.

    “Are you okay, sweetheart?” Seline asked gently, ducking under a low-hanging branch as she sat down next to the girl. Behind her, Amyalla approached to join them, concern evidenced on her face, although the anger she felt at whatever happened to the girl was palpable.

    “Who…who are you?” the girl asked.

    “I’m Amyalla, and this is Seline,” the halfling introduced herself and the wizard. “Those other people are our friends. What’s your name?”

    “N…Nina…” the girl whispered, hiccupping quietly. “Are you…are you with the bad people?” she whimpered.

    “Bad people?” Amyalla asked in surprise.

    “The men took me from Greyhawk,” the girl replied, gaining more courage now, “and then they took me and a bunch of other kids into the hills in these big wagons. They sold us to a bunch of other people in robes. The robes were…scary…” she explained, her voice falling to a fear-filled whisper as she finished.

    “What happened to you, though?” Amyalla asked. “Did you escape?”

    “Yeah, I did,” the girl replied, smiling slightly. “I found a tunnel in the dungeon they were keeping us in, and I managed to slip out that way. I don’t think the bad people know about it. I managed to escape, but then I got really hungry. My daddy Brudd’s probably worried sick. I hope he finds me…” she said sadly.

    “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” Seline assured the girl, hugging her tightly. “We’re here to get you and all the other kids back to your mommies and daddies.”

    “Promise?” Nina asked.

    “Promise,” Seline winked.

    “And we won’t let the bad people hurt you, or anyone else, ever again,” Amyalla assured her.



    Luna was sitting with the girl, having fed and healed her, while Amyalla and Seline repeated to the rest of their companions what Nina had told them.

    “What do we do, then?” Airk frowned. “We can’t leave her here, and I’ll be damned if she’s coming with us back to that hellhole.”

    “We’ll have to find a hiding place for her,” Amyalla pointed out, “close to this tunnel she says we can use to sneak into the lair of these people, whoever they are.”

    “They’ve probably noticed she’s missing by now,” Revafour cursed, “so we’d best get a move on. Who knows what we’ll find waiting for us?”

    “But where are we going to hide this child?” Weimar asked.

    “We’ll have to scout the place out and find a suitable place for her to hide,” Revafour noted, “but there’s no way we’re leaving her here.”

    None of Revafour’s companions could think of a suitable alternative, so they nodded.



    As it turned out, the companions did not have to worry about where they were going to hide Nina. They were less than an hour away from the Bearded Lord’s Hollow when they saw the lone swordsman approaching them. His hair and beard were thick and tangled, and his size was nearly that of Revafour or Ma’non’go. He carried a large broadsword strapped to his back, and he was dressed in rough-looking forester’s clothes. The fierce glare on his face promised murder to whoever crossed him, even as he looked for someone to release his anger on.

    As he saw the adventurers, he hailed them and began walking in their direction. The adventurers paused warily, their hands on their weapons, but Nina gave a cry of delight and ran towards the man, her arms outstretched. Almost immediately, the enraged look on the man’s face disappeared and he took the girl up in his arms, spinning her around in the air in delight.

    “Papa!” the girl cried in delight, as the man laughed out loud.

    “Who are you?” asked Weimar, more out of curiosity than anger, as the rest of his companions approached behind him. “Are you…”

    “My name’s Brudd,” the man said, hoisting Nina up to sit on his shoulder as he did so. “And who might you be?” he asked.

    “We found your little girl,” Weimar explained, before he briefly related how they’d found Nina alone and lost.

    “Then you have my gratitude,” Brudd replied. “I tracked the villains this far, and I intended to make them pay with blood for what they did to my little girl. I take it that’s your intent as well?”

    “Of course it is,” Weimar smiled. “Would you care to join us?”

    “What were you planning to do with Nina when you attacked those wretches?” Brudd asked in reply.

    “Well…we were going to hide her as best we could, and-“ Weimar started, before Brudd raised his hand to cut him off.

    “Don’t worry about that, then,” Brudd shook his head. “I’ll take Nina home.”

    “But what about the other children?” Amyalla demanded. “We could use all the help we can get!”

    “All that matters to me is Nina,” Brudd shook his head. “And don’t think you can make me stay, either.”

    “You don’t care?” Airk said in amazement and disgust.

    “Why should I?” Brudd asked. “You and yours seem as though you’ll have the situation well in hand, I’m sure.”

    “I’m sure your attitude does you credit as a hero,” Revafour spat in disgust. “Take your daughter, then, and go home, knowing how many you’ve left to suffer.”

    “I’m not a martyr,” Brudd shot back, as he turned to leave. “I’m simply a man who cares for his child.”

    Revafour’s eyes flashed, and he wanted to shout something back, as did Airk, but Luna put her hand on his arm. As he looked back at her, Luna shook her head, a calm but determined look on her face. He continued to glare angrily at the departing Brudd, but he forced himself to calm down, as Airk did the same.

    At least we don’t have to worry about keeping Nina safe, he realized as the companions resumed their march.

    Now, all that remains is to deal with these monsters, whoever they are, he realized, glaring hatefully at the approaching hollow he could see through Weimar’s spyglass.

    “Well?” Airk asked Weimar and Amyalla expectantly as they returned from scouting the area.

    “There’s the main entrance,” Weimar replied, “and heavily guarded. They’ve got patrolling guards around the perimeter, but the hidden tunnel that Nina escaped through is past their perimeter. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to sneak in through there, and attack from the inside. Apparently it was connected to some sort of animal den-the orcs who built the original place probably used it as a last resort escape.”

    Nodding to one another, the adventurers set off, grimly determined to see their task through.

    The entrance to the tunnel turned out to be a long-abandoned bear den, with a badly-constructed secret door in the back, no doubt left hanging open by Nina after she’d escaped. They saw what were no doubt her footprints in the dirt, running in desperation as she tried to flee.

    The tunnel was gloomy and dark, clearly not having been used in decades. By itself, the musty smell would not have bothered the adventurers, had it not been for the subtle feeling of menace in the air. They felt as though something was watching them, eager for it to step into their lair, eager for any and every prey it could claim. It was something from which they could never escape and that would make them suffer slowly and painfully before they were finally snuffed out.

    They felt anger and horror in equal measure as they emerged into the cavern. All around them the adventurers saw a pile of mangled and half-eaten corpses, the victims of whoever had claimed these caves as their own. Many of the bodies were fresh, some clearly the remains of people who’d tried to protect their children, or had previously attacked this place in order to try and free its prisoners. Those were bad enough in themselves, but what was worse was how many of the prisoners were youths, people whose only “crime” was to be chosen by the monsters behind this slaughter.

    It was while they were halfway across the cavern that the adventurers noticed the way the corpses were stirring. Gasping and hissing, many of them sprang to their feet, striking at the adventurers with swords and knives hidden in the dirt. Their prey were forced to join back to back as they tried to defend themselves, caught off guard by the undead horrors’ attacks.

    More jarring to the adventurers than the undead, however, was the realization that they’d been tricked by “Nina” and her would-be savior Brudd. Clearly whoever was responsible for these things had somehow discerned they were coming, and led them into this ambush. There must have been nearly thirty of the horrible things, some of which were only half-eaten and still made up of rotting flesh while others were little more than walking skeletons.

    Concentrating intently, Luna channeled the power of Pelor, destroying many of the undead horrors immediately and preventing the adventurers from being overwhelmed. In a rage, Revafour lashed out with his huge sword, striking down several of the creatures as Weimar and Airk followed suit. Ma’non’go dropped two of the creatures that got too close to Seline, as she cast a spell to cast a volley of magical bolts at the monsters. It didn’t take long for Luna and Amyalla to join their companions in striking down the zombies and skeletons that pressed in relentlessly at them.

    There might have been many of the undead, but few of them had any real skill in using their rusted and broken weapons. They were systematically struck down by the companions, who were by now consumed with anger and ready to bring vengeance on whoever was behind all this horror.

    Looking around for the cavern exit, the adventurers were caught off guard by the billowing cloud of vaporous fog that seemed to come up out of nowhere. Shouting to one another, the adventurers tried to link up again and better fight back against whatever this new threat was, but they couldn’t make each other out in this damned fog cloud. Soon, their cries turned to screams, as they felt a loud hissing sound in the air. The fog had suddenly become suffused with superheated steam, burning the adventurers badly and causing them to lose sight of where they or their companions were. Laughter echoed through the steam and fog, laughter that followed the companions as the ground opened beneath them. Their startled cries briefly joined with the laughter as they fell into the pit traps.

    Soon their cries faded, as did the laughter. The fog and steam died away soon after that as well, until all that was left were the lifeless and maimed corpses that were the only things in the cave to begin with. 

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