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    The Silver Wolf-A Light In The Dark: Chapter Ten-Fallen Heroes
    Posted on Mon, September 25, 2017 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    Wow, all that remains is to deal with these monsters, whoever they are, he thought. Borrowing Weimar’s spyglass, he focused it to take a good look at the Bearded Lord’s Hollow, and determine the best path to take.

    It was now fifteen minutes’ march to the hollow, no more.

    Chapter Ten

    Fallen Heroes

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

    When the adventurers stopped at noon for a second meal, with the Bearded Lord’s Hollow only a few kilometres away, they heard a child’s sobbing. They began searching through the nearby bushes, wondering if one of the children had escaped the Hollow. It wasn’t long before Seline spotted a little girl hiding in an old animal den. The girl was badly bruised, covered in dirt and wearing rags for clothes. She was hugging her legs, her chin resting on her knees, as she sobbed quietly. As Seline approached, she looked up in fear, before a look of surprise crossed her face. Crawling out of the den, the little girl calmed down as she got a better look at Seline.

    “Are you okay, sweetheart?” Seline asked, ducking under a low-hanging tree branch as she sat down next to the girl. Amyalla approached to join them, coming up behind Seline. The halfling bore an expression of concern, and her eyes flashed with anger as she saw what had happened to the girl.

    “Who…who are you?” the girl said.

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

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

    “Bad people?” Amyalla said in surprise.

    “The men took me from Greyhawk,” the girl said, gaining more courage as she spoke. “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 said, her voice falling to a fear-filled whisper as she finished.

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

    “Yeah, I did,” the girl said with a slight smile. “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 said, hugging the girl tightly. “We’re here to get you and all the other kids back to your mommies and daddies.”

    “Promise?” Nina said.

    “Promise,” Seline said with a wink.

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

    Luna sat with the girl, healing her wounds and giving her some food. Amyalla and Seline repeated to the rest of their companions what Nina had told them.  

     “What do we do, then?” Airk said with a frown. “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 said, “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 said, “so we’d best get a move on. Who knows what we’ll find waiting for us?”

    “But where are we going to hide her?” Weimar said.

    “We’ll have to scout the place out and find a suitable place for her to hide,” Revafour said. “Can you think of another solution besides leaving her here?”

    The rest of the adventurers shook their heads. 

    As it turned out, the adventurers 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 a solitary figure approaching them. He was a thick, heavyset swordsman nearly the size of Revafour or Ma’non’go, with a tangled beard and hair that likely hadn’t been combed in months. 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, and he was clearly looking for someone to take his anger out on.

    As the swordsman 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 said in delight, as the man laughed out loud.

    “Who are you?” said Weimar, approaching Brudd ahead of the rest of the adventurers. “Are you…”

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

    “We found your little girl,” Weimar said, before he explained how the adventurers found Nina.

    “Then you ‘ave me gratitude,” Brudd said. “I tracked the villains this far, and I intended to make them pay with blood for what they did to me little girl. I take it that’s your business in these hills too?”

    “Of course it is,” Weimar said with a smile. “Would you care to join us?”

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

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

    “Don’t worry ‘bout that, then,” Brudd said, shaking his head. “I’ll take Nina home.”

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

    “All that matters to me is Nina,” Brudd said, shaking his head.

    “You don’t care?” Airk said.

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

    “Your attitude does you credit as a hero,” Revafour said. “Take your daughter, then, and go home, knowing how many you’ve left to suffer.”

    “I’m not a martyr,” Brudd said, 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, 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. Glancing to his side, he saw how Airk shared his anger, and was also struggling to calm down.

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

    Now, all that remains is to deal with these monsters, whoever they are, he thought. Borrowing Weimar’s spyglass, he focused it to take a good look at the Bearded Lord’s Hollow, and determine the best path to take.

    It was now fifteen minutes’ march to the hollow, no more.

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

    “The main entrance is a group of caves at the center of the hollow,” Weimar said, “and heavily guarded. They’ve got guards patrolling around there, but the hidden tunnel that Nina escaped through is out past their range. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to sneak in through there, and attack from the inside. Apparently the tunnel was connected to some sort of animal den. The orcs who originally settled these caves probably used it as an emergency escape route.”

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

    The hidden tunnel’s entrance turned out to be a long-abandoned bear den. The adventurers found a badly-constructed secret door at the rear of the cave hanging wide open. They realized that Nina had probably left the door open after she’d escaped, and they saw her footprints in the cave’s dirt floor, leading back outside.

    As the adventurers entered the tunnel, they saw that it hadn’t been used in decades by anyone besides Nina. Despite that, the adventurers noticed a subtle feeling of menace in the air. They felt as though something was watching them, eager for any prey it could claim. They felt as though it was something they could not hope to escape, something that would make them slowly suffer before it finally snuffed them out.

    The adventurers emerged from the tunnel into a larger cavern, and what they saw filled them with both anger and horror. The cavern was strewn with mangled and half-eaten corpses, likely the victims of whoever had claimed the Bearded Lord’s Hollow as their own. Some of the corpses were of adults, likely the remains of this people who’d tried to free the prisoners. The adults’ corpses were disturbing enough to the adventurers, but the children’s corpses were even worse.

    Despite their disgust, the adventurers forced themselves to continue towards the exit tunnel in the far wall of the cavern. When they were halfway across the cavern, they noticed that many of the corpses were stirring. Gasping and hissing, many of the corpses sprang to their feet, striking at the adventurers with swords and knives hidden in the dirt. There were nearly thirty of the horrible things. Some of the creatures were only half-eaten and still strewn with rotting flesh. Others were little more than walking skeletons.

    The adventurers joined back to back as they defended themselves from the undead horrors’ attacks. Luna was the first to strike, raising her pendant as she called to Pelor for aid. Channeling Pelor’s power, Luna destroyed many of the undead horrors immediately. Seline struck down several more monsters with a flurry of magical bolts. The remaining undead had little skill with their rusty, broken weapons, and they were easily struck down by the other adventurers.

    As the last of the undead creatures fell, the adventurers resumed walking towards the exit tunnel. They were ready for another attack from a tangible foe, but they were surprised when a billowing cloud of fog seemed to come out of nowhere. The adventurers shouted to one another, trying to coordinate a response to this new attack. Their shouts turned to screams as they were burned by the fog, which turned out to be superheated steam. Laughter echoed through the steam, laughter that was soon joined by the adventurers’ screams of alarm as the ground opened up beneath them in a series of pit traps.

    The adventurers’ cries faded, as did the laughter. The fog and steam died away soon after that, leaving the cavern as it was, an empty, haunted place inhabited only by maimed and lifeless corpses.  

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