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nside a small town inn, the sign outside bearing the faded image of an axe and bull, a heavyset and heavily scarred man turns from the ramshackle bar with two mugs of what the brave call ale and those outside the barkeeps hearing call weasel piss. Glancing around the dimly lit and dingy room he sees that no trouble is brewing and carefully moves back to the three legged excuse for a table shared by his newly met companion. The vaguely lit figure, seated on a stool polished smooth by countless uses resolves itself into burly woodsman, still sporting fresh bandages on his leg. Caused when his grip on his axe slipped while felling a tree earlier that day. Kraag had managed to save both the man and the leg and had been invited back for dinner and a drink in thanks.

Seating himself Kraag passes one mug over and takes a swig from his own managing to hide a grimace as the slightly sour brew passes down his throat. With a freshly wet throat Kraag begins to talk in a surprisingly gentle tone “That was a fine tale laddie and your cloak shows that indeed it was a great bear that you slew. You were asking if I was the same man you had heard of a few years back and I’ll admit to you that I am one of those from the tale. Thankfully the story has grown now and I can often pass unnoticed as I’m not twelve foot tall or ride a blackblood hound bareback. It’s been a while since I told the true version to anyone that would actually listen but I’ll share it with you tonight…

It started on a beach of rounded stones, storm strewn debris and mangled bodies were scattered about below a daunting and shear ring of cliffs. A short distance out to sea the sunken remains of what I guessed was the ship that had founded on the reefs just off the headland. I woke with a pounding head and the remains of shackles on both my wrist and ankle, of the chain there was no sign. Why I had been held captive, where I was or even my own name was unknown to me. A few others were moving and as most began to search for a way out or salvageable items I moved amongst the fallen looking to see if there were any I could help.

I found none that I could save so I took a few seconds to take stock of our situation. Of those that were still moving I counted four other men, one that later revealed that he was Azo, a dwarf from distant parts, there was a young slip of a girl called Cassandra and too there was an elf who bore the title Watcher, who had that craving look that all their kind wears. Of the men, Julian was the youngest, his only contribution was to huddle at the base of the cliff crying. The second, Tdum, bore the unmistakeable countenance of an ex-soldier, one used to some command. The third, a tall man, looked like he bore some secret but what I never found out as he was not with us for long.

A shout from one survivor heralded the discovery of a twisted and rain slick path which showed traces of blood that ran up the face of one part of the cliff. The whimpering youth slithered up it like an eel while the rest of us carried what bounty had been saved. I was the last to start the ascent and as I left the sea’s rising tide greedily began to claim the wreckage had escaped it and those poor unfortunates that we could not bury. The sound of its waves against the cliff base sounded almost disappointed as we were escaped its grasp.

Reaching the top we were presented with an eerie spectacle. A mist shrouded village, with a rough stone path winding its way past the huts to a single lodge, the only sounds were a cut off babies cry and two short yaps from a dog then silence. I cried out a hello but my voice was swallowed by the mist. We entered the village and as we walked Cassandra took to throwing pebbles against buildings. I wondered why but then realised that she was listening to the echoes and was amazed to realise that often the sound that should come from hitting the walls failed to be made or even worse seemed to come from behind us. We started looking in some of the houses. Sturdy but basic with thatched roofs and one or two rooms at the most. Just before opening doors we occasionally heard voices but only found empty rooms or discovered still warm meals but never any people.

We continued on down the single path to the main lodge and the situation was repeated, the great room was full of warm food with ale ready to be drunk and a fire blazing in the hearth but not a soul in sight. We took a while to remove our shackles but despite the noise no one came. None of us were willing to taste the food on offer. Deciding that it was time to move on we again stepped out into unnatural silence of the mist when from the tendrils rushed some deformed and faceless figures, the only sound their claws on the path.

We met their rush stoutly for the most part, however the youths spirit quailed and he broke and ran and we could do naught to stop him. In the melee that followed the beasts took many wounds but no blood flowed nor sound was made when blows they did receive. Tdum, the ex-soldier, took a raking blow to one arm leaving a long and bloody furrow before the wraiths faded back into the veiled darkness. Looking about we were distraught to notice that one of our number had simply vanished without sound or trace, the tall man whom we never even learned the name of. Rounding the corner of the lodge we found a curled, whimpering, ball that we eventually coaxed out, Julians wounds seemingly restricted to the realm of the spirit. It was after this that we found that some of our memories along with some of the skills and powers that we had before the wreck had returned. Summoning the Spirits of Order Tdum quickly healed his wounds.

Hardening our resolve we headed back to the cliff and the trail of blood, hoping to find some clue at that trails end. As we walked a ghostly voice like that of a young girl sung out the first verse of a child’s rhyme . It told of five men in a tower seeking a rod of power. As we continued the voice periodically sung a different verse each one reducing the number of men by some grisly fate.

Our hunt brought us along a statue lined walkway to the remains of a signal tower beneath which was a cellar. Within was a passage, tight and eroding that forced us to walk single file, that curled down beneath the ruins and back towards the village. We entered and slowly edged our way along the narrow tunnel with the girls voice ringing out the verses, each preceding the discovery of another corpse. Our path was blocked at one point by a cave in and we all gently squeezed ourselves through the gap. Once again I was last but being the broadest of girth I had some difficulty and caused more of the roof to collapse before I rolled free with nothing more than scrapes and bruises. It was only a short time until the last corpse was found, this one a fisherman who was only recently deceased. In the ground, scratched by his dying hand were the words “Break it. Free us”.

Soon after the tunnel opened up into a cavern in the middle of which, surrounded by the remains of many bodies, was a bizarrely deformed figure, it’s limbs seemingly stretched to almost twice the usual length, a stone rod hanging down its side from a belt of rank hair, a demented ghoul. It sat there whispering the final verse of the rhyme over and over to itself “One sits in the tower, with the Rod of Power. On darkest deeds, and souls he feeds, the One sits in the Tower”.

We saw it and we all had to take a moment to absorb and recover from the horror of the sight, Tdum stumbling into a rock tower the sound ringing out around us. Before we could move the malevolent figure raised one desiccated arm and, pointing at Tdum, rasped out a command to freeze. Tdum recounted later that he felt bound spirits flowing around him attempting to give the command force but that he had managed to ignore them with ease. Julian let out a small whimper and ducked behind a stalagmite and Tdum, feeling a righteous wrath, summoning some Order spirits to help him, charged forward at a run readying his sword to strike. While he charged Cassandra talked to some more spirits, attempting to cloak Tdum with a duplicate of himself to confuse the ghoul. The foul essences of the place warped her work and the ghoul ignored the disjointed pieces intended to distract him.

I lumbered forward, speed never having been my strong point, while calling on friendly spirits to help protect me. A moment later Azo rushed past me and with the help of yet more spirits smashed into the ghoul, his spear had little effect but his charge managed to knock the fiend over for a few moments.

Levering itself back to its feet, the ghoul reached out one clawed arm but failed to do more than put a rent in Tdums armour. Finally shaking off the paralysis that the scene had forced on him, Watcher moved to the side, harmlessly throwing a club past the ghouls head. Tdum and Azo continued their attacks while Cassandra again tried to create a distraction, a cloud of fog briefly appeared around the ghouls head before dissipating just as fast.

As I drew near our foe I noticed Julian peeking around the column of rock but I could not take time to pay attention as I focused on the events in front of me. Tdum had scratched the beasts arm and Azo finally managed to pass the ghouls defence sinking his spear deep in the ghouls’ midriff. The blows were true but there was no blood and no lessening of the ferocity of its attack which, while many, had failed to do any damage. Seeing an opportunity, Watcher suddenly dashed forward, tumbling past in a welter of arms and legs and grasped at the stone rod only to have his cry of victory as he made contact die as the ghoul knocked his arm away.

Seeing Watchers attempt, Tdum immediately realised his intention and struck again, this time not at the beast but at the belt holding the rod. Moving swiftly to avoid the attempt to block the blow he sliced through the hair belt causing the rod to fall and bounce to the floor rolling to a stop a few paces away.

The ghoul turned from the men surrounding it towards it’s fallen prize only to let out a cry of despair and rage as I finally entered the fray, stepping forward with the axe held high over my and head and bringing it down in a brutal arc onto the rod, smashing it and sending pieces flying around the chamber. Those that hit us fell to the ground with soft clinks but where pieces touched the ghoul vast rents were made and with a last howl the beast tore apart into a noxious cloud and dissipated forever.

As we stood and regrouped from chaos that had just been, Watcher heard a noise from down the tunnel where we had entered. While most of us prepared by the door Julian scuttled about looking for trinkets that had fallen from the bodies of those long dead, to his credit they were shared amongst all the survivors. The sounds from the hall soon revealed themselves to be from a man, Tdee by name, another survivor of the wreck. He had been tangled in the wreckage of the ship and had taken some hours to free himself and make his way to shore, where he had managed to follow our tracks and find us here.

We returned to find mist blowing away revealing a bright dawn and the village looking like it had been abandoned for hundreds of years. Looking around we saw we were on headland cut off by a cleft that plunged to the sea with walls of melted rock, a dangerous rope bridge spanning its width. Beyond was a small fishing village with a wooden palisade, situated in what was obviously a part of the Savage march. As we approached we came across a small girl humming the rhyme that had haunted us just hours earlier, she never spoke and so we moved on. We entered the village with little trouble bar that from Julian managing to insult our new hosts while trying to put out an overly flowery greeting but they managed to wave that off to his youth.

We met and talked with the village leaders and made the acquaintance of a Dwarven trader known as Beatil, whose airship had crashed in the nearby forest. He had lost his crew to the creatures known as Kree, a foul lizard, snake combination. They were known to hunt in packs, their queens remaining safe in the hive while the males ravaged the lands around. Bentil wanted us to help him recover and repair his ship and in return he would help us return to more civilized lands…

Kraag looked around the tavern and then across the table to his rapt audience “Well that was bout the end of that part of the tale laddie. I don’t know about you but I’m just about dead, how about we call it a night and tomorrow I’ll give you a hand with the trees and we can continue the tale tomorrow night?”








Legends of the Three Pillars Turtle72