Town of Northpoint,
Spring, 24th Day of True Omens, 4,028th Cycle
The Shattered Sword was under new management and the townsfolk liked it that way.
For the most part, the three new owners of The Shattered Sword—Brother Silas, Dorin, and Glint—were happy enough letting Gristle run the day-to-day affairs of running a tavern and inn. Besides, Brother Silas was not particularly interested in being part owner of a tavern. He was far too devoted to serving Laerra, the goddess of healing instead. However, the two other owners suggested he use his part of the profits to help bolster the temple’s coffers.
For the past two weeks since the Shattered Sword came under new management, business had been fair. Travelers and adventurers came through the town of Northpoint either to head south to the lakeside village of Waterhaven, brave the dangers of Northwoods and the Ridgeline Mountains beyond, or continue to on to other parts of the kingdom of Kerrandi.
So on a particularly warm spring day, everyone was involved in discussing the latest news while enjoying a noon meal. Word of a recent battle near Waterhaven against the orcs of the Iron Legion and the King’s army had reached everyone in Northpoint. Fortunately, the King’s army had prevailed and routed the orcs back to the forest and mountains.
Ezra told everyone about his latest adventures and how the dwarves had found and rescued him from being sacrificed to the orc god, Grummsh. The dwarves, too, told of their recent journey from the northern Ridgeline Mountains, running into a small band of goblins, and coming upon the orc stronghold where they found Ezra. Upon mentioning their harrowing encounter with General Norgrug, everyone raised a toast to Otis Steallock, their fallen kinsdwarf and fellow adventurer. Ezra also offered a toast to Aspen Thistledown and Lyda Cusswell, friends he had recently lost.
Gristle then mentioned that he had heard from Chapel, who had heard about it from Clipwing the dragon, about an ancient elven ruin in the Northwoods not far from Northpoint. Legend had it that the place was once an elven temple. Beneath the temple lay elven catacombs where their greatest warriors were laid to rest. It was said that among the elven warriors were fighters known as Orcbanes, named so for the enchanted blades they bore into battle.
As the legend went, the Orcbane Blades were forged by the greatest of elven smiths during the Rift War, when the orcs entered Terramyth in great numbers from their homeworld. How many of the blades exists is not known, but wielded by select elven fighters, the blades were said to be able to cut down orcs with a single stroke.
When the orcs were defeated by the elves and forced back into the mountains and desolate hills, the elves then destroyed the Rift forever cutting the orcs from their homeworld.
After hearing Gristle, Ezra said he had been to the elven ruin and could lead anyone who wished to go there.
Not wanting to miss a chance for adventure, everyone agreed to go. Soon a formidable adventuring party of seven was formed.
Before leaving on their quest, Gristle said they should first speak to Erzhu, a man who had lost his son a year ago when his son—also named Erzhu—joined up with two adventurers who came into town. Erzhu the Elder gave his son a family heirloom, an enchanted blade called Striker, which was said to grant the wielder the ability to strike first in battle when a foe attacks. Before leaving on his adventure, Erzhu the Young swore he would return home after they had cleared the elven catacombs and found the legendary elven blades.
That was a year ago. Erzhu the Young had not been heard been heard from since. Erzhu the Elder offered to reward the adventurers for the safe return of the family heirloom. He also offered a reward if the adventurers found his son’s remains and returned it to him so he can give his brave son a proper burial.
Gristle also recommended the group meet with Eliana the Apothecary. She is always asking people to look for ingredients she could use to mix potions. Dorin and Glint went to see the elven woman who gave them a list of ingredients they would most likely find in a tomb or inside caves.
With everyone ready, the adventurers set off on their quest to enter the elven catacombs and claim the Orcbane Blades to use against the orcs plaguing their land. Gristle stayed behind to tend to the affairs of running the tavern/inn.
On the way to Northwoods, the group came upon a pack of starving, feral Black Wolves which attacked them with ferocity.
When the last of the wolves was killed, only Xan had been injured by a wolf’s bite. Brother Silas quickly healed the dwarven martial artist.
The group of seven traveled onward and reached the elven ruin by the middle of the afternoon.
Ezra guided the group to the entrance he found. Behind a pile of fallen rocks, the group saw a pair of stone doors.
After nearly two hours of clearing away the rubble, the group was able to completely see the double doors. The doors were carved in relief with elven warriors holding longswords—which everyone assumed may be the Orcbane Blades.
They found the doors to be unlocked. The doors were then carefully opened. What little light was left of the day revealed what lay behind the doors.
Inside, they found an antechamber. Four stone statues of elven fighters decorated the chamber. They also spotted another set of stone doors, with similar carvings on the opposite side from where they stood.
Worried that the antechamber may be trapped, the group carefully looked the antechamber over before entering it. Satisfied the room was not trapped, they entered and walked to the other set of doors.
They opened the doors which led into a ten-foot wide passageway. Magical torches suddenly flared to life revealing a passageway stretching for fifty feet and ending at yet another set of double doors similarly carved.
The walls of the passageway were painted to resemble a sylvan forest setting. The arching ceiling, some ten feet high, was painted to resemble a sunny sky. The adventurers were impressed by the details of the murals.
“I have never understood the elves’ passion for bringing the outdoors indoors,” Kaza the dwarven fighter said. “What’s wrong with simply leaving stone walls be?”
Cautious, the adventurers carefully searched the passageway for any sign of a trap.
Luck was with them when they noticed how differently the floor appeared to be some ten paces from the doors at the end of the passageway.
The group carefully made their way down; careful about every step they took.
When they reached the spot they noticed was different, the group assumed that the floor might be a trigger for a trap. They considered that enough weight would trigger the trap.
Glint went outside to retrieve a heavy rock, returned, then dropped it on the floor in front of him.
Suddenly, five foot wide parts of the walls down the passage where they came from quickly slid across and slammed against the opposite side. Fortunately those who were in the path of the traps were able to quickly jump forward or back to avoid being crushed.
After realizing the traps had not reset, the adventurers went up to the stone doors and opened them.
Sconces flared brightly to reveal passageways branching off in three different directions. Each led to a set of stone double doors. They were also similarly carved with the elven warriors holding longswords.
Down each passageway, the group spotted niches filled with standing stone sarcophagi.
What stole the group’s attention, however, were the three sets of mummified remains on the stone floor. One seemed small, clearly belonging to a half-folk. The other two were human in size. Each remain was wearing leather armor, and carried the usual adventuring gear. The half-folk seemed to have been equipped with a buckler and armed with a short sword, now rusted, while the other two were armed with a great axe, also rusted, and a longsword, which the group noticed resembled the description Erzhu the Elder gave of the heirloom, Striker.
“If those three made it past the trap, what killed them?” Xan wondered.
Suddenly, each sarcophagus opened. In total, six skeletal warriors dressed in ancient mail shirts stepped out of their resting place to face the intruders. Each held a well-worn metal shield shaped like a large leaf, and was armed with an ancient long sword.
“Does that answer your question?” Kaza said as he, along with the others charged in to engage the skeletons.
The encounter against the skeletal guardians was won, but the group was surprised at how long the battle took. Each skeleton proved to be a skilled foe and were hard to destroy. Fortunately, no one was injured in the encounter which could have proven deadly.
As the group looked at the amount of bones littering the floor, the group realized how easily Erzhu the Young’s group of three could have been slaughtered.
The adventurers took the remains of Erzhu the Young, picked up Striker, and went about searching through the previous adventurers’ gear for anything useful.
The group then considered which of the three sets of double doors to go through next.
To be continued in Chapter 13…