I wake in a different world than when I went to bed. The adrenaline is gone, and a dull pain has settled in. The little hope I had for my father has been replaced with mourning. I managed to grab his rings and his dagger, reminders of the man he was before being turned into a monster. I am at peace with delivering his final blow, as he was already dead.
We slept in an entrance room, or a foyer of some sort. It is incredible in its simplicity. There are no cracks, no bricks, and no blemishes on any of the walls. It has been perfectly carved out of (or maybe into, I don’t know) the cliff.
Dolf is up, and is looking at the statue that is the only thing in the room. It’s of a short, squat, bearded man. Dolf identifies it as a dwarf, and that the wording at its base reads “Garden of the Rising Moon”. The only thing he knows of dwarves is that they have a reputation of being greedy and loving gems. Well, they are in the right area for that. That leaves us with more questions. What do these dwarves have to do with the plague? If they can stay hidden from us this long, are they hiding now? The undead have only been human and animals. Did the plague wipe them out? How the hell is there an entrance like this so close to Egersund without anyone knowing?
Throughout the entrance room, there are stilted tracks throughout. Speed and mobility are definitely not the main threat for this type of undead. The other type, the type my father was turned into, are a different nightmare, though. It looks as though about 25 have entered through here.
From deeper in the pitch-black cavern, dragging footsteps make their way towards us. A single zombie appears, although lighter steps can be heard from the dark. The interesting thing about this undead is that it’s attire is obviously not from Egersund. He has strange, ruffle-collared shirt. Does this cave extend all the way to another part of the world? How far has this plague spread?
The second undead is a little girl, also richly dressed. Hans’ destroys them both, with a little help from Vegard and Mari. Despite it being not human, I hope I never get used to seeing a maul knock off the head of child. We are still in a nightmare.
These things can be handled safely when there is only one or two, but I’m worried for when we have to deal with a hoard of them. That is what is waiting for us back home. Hans is the most effective with his strength and weapon, and Dolf handles them well with the help of Helga.
Jensa sends lights down the hallway. Although our relationship to nature is within the same vein, her connection is much deeper, in a way that I hold in awe. I believe her powers are going to be important in Egersund’s cleansing. The light floats into darkness; too weak to show the size of the room it has entered. As we follow, the hall opens up not into another carved room, but a massive, natural cavern with a flattened dirt floor. Moonlight can be seen from the entranceway, outlining in silvery light a giant mushroom forest that is cloistered in towards the center of the cavern. Some of them must be over 25 feet high. I can hear a slow moving stream nearby.
This must be the Garden of the Rising Moon. Lucky we got up early enough to see the fading moonlight stream though the hole in the roof of the cavern. Dolf identifies some of mushrooms as poisonous, but there is little we can do.
As we carefully take the path through, I can hear the sounds of spors being gently released into the air by the mushrooms. Fuck. We make run for it, trying to get to the other side, but Dolf and Hans collapse. I can hear more spoors being released. I head back and grab Dolf, before passing out as well.
I wake up wet. I’m not totally sure what happened, but Dolf and Hans are with us. I passed out as I hiking Dolf, and Vegard had to grab us. Lucky the mushrooms just put us to sleep, although if we had all passed out, it would have been easy prey for any undead in the area. We are on the bank of the stream. The tracks that must belong to the squid headed monsters head west, so we head east, skirting around monstrous mushrooms.
We come to another hallway. The path becomes smooth and developed, exactly like that of the first entrance. We walk for thirty minutes. There are human undead tracks, but not a sound. We come along a marker that Dolf reads as 424. No one has any idea what that is referencing, or what measurement is being used.
We come upon a side room, a little hidden, on the south side of the hall. Out of the darkness creaks a 6’5, plate mailed undead. The intimidation quickly wore as Hans, yet again, takes his head off. It’s gruesome. I thought it would be a harder fight, frankly.
It is a small room, with some sort of cage or prison cell in the south-east corner. Nothing else. The cell is open. I focus to see if I can sense any magic. The corner of the cell shows some sort of magic. I throw a rock at it, and it disappears.
Vegard ties his crowbar to his rope, and throws it at the section of the wall. He disappears, along with the rope and crowbar. Dolf and I quickly jump follow, quickly follow so as not to leave Vegard on his own. I’d like to think that if I had time to think about it, I would have done the same thing, but I’m not sure.
We arrive into another cage, this one locked. We scan the room quickly. There is another prison cell next to ours with an undead in it. Vegard puts his rapier through its head before we can stop him. There is no better way to make sure that no one knows you’ve trespassed somewhere than leaving a corpse in your wake.
We jump back through, arriving back with the rest of the group. We figure we need to unlock the cell to see what is beyond. Vegard is the only one with those skills, and he practices on the cell door to see how the mechanics work. After Vegard feels ready he and Dolf jump through and quickly return, having successfully unlocked the cell door.
We all go through, and go past the cage cells into an empty room. It is a scholarly room, one made for being quiet and studying. The cells actually sit behind a heavy curtain that can be pulled to cover them. Bookshelves line the main wall, and large desk sits as the centerpiece to the space with a leather chair tucked into it. There is a giant naval-style ‘s’ embroidered into the rug on the floor. The same ‘s’ is on parchment pad, and a stamp is on the desk, which has ‘Sal’ emblemized on it.
Vegard begins scanning the book shelves, and taking them in a haphazard way. Dolf is doing the same, but in a more thoughtful manner. I don’t touch a thing; I am worried about being caught, or leaving more of a trail.
In all, we take seven books.
“Monsters” by Asul
“The Greater Council”
“The 7 paths of necromancy”
“Controlling Undead Armies”
I can see that Dolf’s last book is radiating evil, and frankly freaks me out. As the group looks around the room, Vegard flips through the book titled Greater Council. It falls open to the most often part of the book, titled ‘Salithius’. Fuck.
Since this is the perfect time and place to begin arguing our next move, Dolf and Mari do just that. The question is if we continue on, exploring past Salithius’ office, or do we head back through the portal to pass on what information we have gained back to the church.
We agree to at least get out of the office, and go back to hallway through the portal. I put an alarm on the cell, just in case we are followed. We setup shop, and arguing what our next move is, and studying the books we pilfered to see if we could find out more about reversing the plague, or how to end it. The alarm sounds.