22nd Day of Sarailah:
We continued our search of the Outpost. Erland used his brawn to force open one of the doors on the South side of the hall. It opened up into a large dining room with a large hearth on the right. In the far right corner we could make out the figure of a dwarf frozen in ice and snow. Only his boots remained visible until we dug away the snow and chipped through the ice. He was holding on to a taper of flame that was somehow still burning inside a small hollow of ice surrounding his face.
He was dressed in the uniform of the Royal Guard and appeared to have been trying to escape the Outpost by digging his way through a section of wall that had crumbled away when the snow poured in and buried him alive. The magically lit taper in his hand had kept burning after all these years buried in snow.
Coarvyne kept the ever burning flame and placed it inside a lantern. It would become a handy source of fire for him to ignite his flaming arrows.
With Erland leading the way and opening doors using his brute strength we explored a kitchen stripped of all food, and an armory filled with dwarven sized armor ranging from leather to plate mail. All bore the insignia of the Royal Guard, and Kragdor was swift to remind those with greedy eyes that it was all still property of the King. Lost and forgotten as the treasure may be, no one; myself included; were ready to dispute his claim so we left it all untouched.
In another room we found a room that had been set up as a make-shift sleeping quarters. Bedding was scattered around the room as makeshift mattresses; several were occupied by dwarves now long dead. Erland lifted one of the beds and sent a pile of bones flying across the floor.
Huddled in the corner near the fireplace was another frozen body that looked like he spent his last moments of life trying to stay warm near a long dead hearth. Despite my winter clothes and warm cloak I felt a shiver run down my spine at the thought of being frozen alive.
I searched him and found a couple of keys, a handful of coins and a gold ring with a tourmaline gem. It could be quite a treasure, especially if it turned out to be magical. I would have to check it out later. His hands were also clutched tightly around some kind of journal. Upon it was a written account of what had happened to the long lost Outpost.
87 years ago an avalanche fell from the mountain-side and buried the Outpost trapping the entire garrison inside! As food became scarce a few of the survivors even resorted to cannibalism. Most of the rooms we had explored had been emptied of anything burnable in an attempt to keep themselves from freezing. Later as we continued to explore we even saw signs of a possible mutiny as they fought among themselves for the last shred of resources.
Moving along we came upon a stairway leading into another hallway shrouded in Darkness. None of our light sources seemed capable of penetrating it. Erland tried to brave the inky blackness. He heard a whooshing sound and quickly jumped back again as something unseen left a deep gash in his chest.
Guided by the nose of his beast, Coarvyne let loose an arrow into the ominous blackness and struck… something. Whatever it had been quickly retreated as Coarvyn’s beast (someday I will have to remember its name) could no longer sense it.
Finally Feritti decided to make himself useful and banished the Darkness with a spell of Daylight. Once again I wished he had been a Wizard rather than a mere Sorcerer and was capable of writing down and sharing his spells like a civilized purveyor of the mystic arts, but alas his magic was more feral and innate rather than studied, and he had no more way to share his knowledge then could a bird teach a dog to fly. So much knowledge, and of no use to anyone but himself. The thought was almost enough to make a gnome cry.
Anyway at least the druid charlatan came through on banishing the Darkness and as expected the hallway beyond remained empty. We explored the hallway a short ways further until we found a room where Erland could rest for a bit for his wound had been rather severe.
As our meat-shield regained enough strength to continue being an effective meat-shield, Fenella crafted a potion of healing using the herbs Coarvyne had provided. I decided to look for anything magical and spotted a shiny gem of some sort embedded in the ceiling; which Erland broke trying to retrieve, and which Fenella mended in case it was still worth something.
After an hour Feritti’s Daylight spell ended, and with it Erlands short rest, for the beasts we now know as Cloakers swiftly returned. This time we were ready for them and as the manta ray looking creatures came flying down the hall we dispatched them and skinned the hides off their backs. We hoped that whatever mystic properties they possessed while alive may remain at least in some part in their hide; although we may have damaged one of the hides in the process.
As we checked another room further down the hall we found some sort of office containing a desk with a few coins and a bundle of keys which would serve to spare Erland’s shoulders from further bruising.
In a room below the office was a fancy looking bedroom, probably belonging to an officer of the Outpost. We found his body on the bed riddled with arrows. Coarvyn searched under the mattress and found a gold-featherd ring which Feritti identified as a Ring of Feather Falling.
In searching another room in the hall we found a map room and a floor streaked with old frozen blood; more clues to a struggle that must have occurred many years before. We found the Outpost marked on the map as Post 359; which meant very little to us, but might prove useful in the future. Probably not, but for some reason I am wasting my valuable ink writing the number down anyway!
We took the maps because even they might prove useful, even if they are older than I am, and on the wall behind the map were elven words written in blood! Eew! It read:
“Knock Thrice, Knock Twice, Knock Mice”
Maybe it means something; or maybe it just means some insane twit decided to knock his own head against the wall thrice, twice, too many times before he decided to practice his calligraphy.
It certainly wouldn’t be the only insane thing we found in this buried Outpost as we soon found out when we reached the room that housed the cells.
There was only one occupant in the row of prison cells. In the far corner he huddled with his arms wrapped around his knees covered in a dark cloak. The eyes that peered out from his hood almost seemed to glow with insanity as he cackled in the darkness as we approached.
We questioned him for some time but could discover no answers. I could tell he was under the influence of a spell of some kind, or perhaps magical in nature himself, so we asked Feritti to Identify it.
87 years, and perhaps far longer, he had been kept locked up in a cell and kept alive by a spell that kept him fed and warm, at least enough to keep him alive. He was skin and bones when he stood up, and that was when we discovered he was human.
From all we could tell he appeared harmless, and we could only guess why he was shuffled from one prison to another to finally end up here. Perhaps he was a raving murderer, or a political prisoner locked away because of some dangerous blood-tie; a lost heir to the throne? Again we could only guess.
Still we could not leave him, not without knowing if there were some just cause to do so, and so we freed him and left him in the hands of fate and watched him run off down the halls towards the stairs.
Then we proceeded down the last hallway and Erland used one of his keys to open the last door on the right… setting off a giant ball of fire that blew the door asunder and ripped down the hallway to engulf us all in burning flames.