As Liander pored over the grimoire recovered from the Mausoleum, the other members of the party talked in hushed tones around flickering campfires. Out of the original force, less than half remained. Very few had actually died, but many had decided to slip off quietly into the night, disappearing without a trace. Even more disturbing were the people who might still be stranded in the Mausoleum. Some that had gone in had not come back out.
Jerreck, Ravyson, Shara, and Ursawg were crouched around one campfire, remembering the battle in the depths. Ravyson fingered the dagger, unable to determine the magic woven into the device.
Liander, Sky, and Beliana were taking turns scanning the heavy tome for more clues about the weavers. A short way off, Hespus brooded alone.
The rest were gone. Jerreck looked around at the emptiness and pondered. "What a mighty expedition, to be reduced to this. And yet we haven't been beset with so much death as you would expect for such a small number to remain."
Ravyson piped up. "There were many more who entered the Mausoleum. Still some chance that they might return."
Shara frowned. "The Shimmering Blades won't be returning. They were finishing off a group of skeletons when I last saw them. All of a sudden they shimmered their way somewhere else. Mayhaps some mage had a summoning tag on them."
The clank of metal was heard approaching. "Aye, and the Red Serpents fared no better," said Hespus. "I saw their number cut down by an overwhelming force of zombies. I believe Dubyas escaped the fate of his brothers, but I have not seen him since."
Hespus sat and continued. "The apprentice mages return to their academy with half their numbers. Yosh is dead at the hands of the death knight, and Crion before him. Ana and Bismal survived and have already gone. Siceyon, I have not seen. Velgar was in the midst of a spell when it backfired on him. He too winked out of existence, or perhaps just winked elsewhere. The cat-man is gone. Traug went in, but I have not seen him come back out. Alvez is dead, slain by a wight. The twins deserted days ago. Our party hath disappeared before our eyes."
He suddenly grew still, ears cocked for a sound. With one fluid motion, he was standing with sword drawn. From the entrance to the Mausoleum emerged a grim elf and a battered woman. Riana limped over to Hespus and plopped herself down heavily. "Elquith and I just barely escaped. There's a mess of undead near the entrance, unwilling to exit. But I don't know if anyone else will be able to get out soon."
Jerreck nodded. "But two more thought dead are returned to us. Glad to have you back."
Liander called out to the others. "I believe I have something. Inscribed here is a ritual for opening a portal to their plane. It will take me some time to make the preparations."
"Very well. We'll sleep tonight and start preparing the ritual tomorrow." Hespus's gaze lingered on a freshly empty tent, which contained the shield of Unecho, one of the three pieces to the strange puzzle of defeating the fire demon. He sighed and whispered, "Not much longer."
(OOC: Anyone else who's still with us, tell me now. Tomorrow we go to the Weavers. And I have no clue how to date this. Whatever is the date of the fight, this is the same day.)
Good to have you back Torlax! As far as i know, it's
pretty much just me and Ravyson still actively writing
posts for the RBS. Sky and Shara might be lurking about
somewhere, posting rarely at best. I think Traug might
want to re-enter the quest though... is that right Mist?
As the last conversation died down, Jerreck settled in his
blankets to sleep. Soon enough he would be awakened for
guard duty, and he intended to get as much sleep as possible.
Eight people left now. A tighter, more hardened group. He
smiled there in the darkness. Those who had not the guts
had departed quietly in the night. Those he did not miss.
For the souls who had fought and died in the crypts, he sent
a silent prayer. Whoever was left now was the core of the
band. Those who would not turn back until the quest had been
completed, or they all died trying. Content with this, the
scarred warrior drifted smoothly into a dreamless sleep.
August 25, 794
Birds chirped as the sun began its upward rising in the western horizon. The entire camp was unmoving and quiet. Ravyson hovered above the treetops as he watched the sunrise. He kept thinking about the hell they had just passed through. "The world keeps going, even after many die." He glanced at the Masoleum. "Horrific place, to destroy so many lives so quickly."
Suddenly, a form stumbled out of the crypt. Ravyson watched the man fall to the ground. He dropped from his midair perch and tapped Jerreck on the shoulder. "Wake up. Someone else has emerged from the Masoleum." Jerreck was up within a second, running towards the place of death where another had just escaped.
Ravyson flew into the air, clearing the treetops in what looked like a huge jump. He landed next to the limp form of the man. Jerreck came running behind him, having cleared almost half a mile in just two minutes. The warrior crouched next to the limp form, feeling his pulse. "He's alive."
Ravyson picked up the things the man had dropped. On the ground were a bow, two crossbows, and a lot of arrows. "Looks like an archer. Do you remember an archer?" He handed the equipment to Jerreck.
"It looks old, but they're in very good shape. Get him back to the camp, I'll take these." Ravyson picked the man up and jumped over the treetops back to camp.
The group was startled when they saw several zombie corpses fly out the entrance to the Mausoleum. The corpses were scorched and dead, no longer undead. Out clambered Traug, with zombie limbs hanging from his shoulders and arms. He tossed the rotting apendages away from him and looked at the people gathered around the now-dead campfire.
"Traug is back! Mes is happy too, cuz it stinky in there! Traug get am-bushedded by lotses of dead peoples, think he gonna choke to death from da stinky smell. But Traug manage to cast flame aura spell before he choke, and the deadies went flyinging everywheres, all smoky and burny. Traug find entrance, and Traug wasn't happy to see more deady-people, so Traug got angy and barshed them. But Traug out now! Traug like fresh air. Smellz good. Traug need bath..." the Troll said as he startled to search for a river or pond to bathe in. As he passed them by, the adventurers' grins changed as they covered their noses to escape the stench.
After a short wait, Traug returned to the party all washed up, and carrying a new walking stick. Traug said "Mes finded this on the ground when me get out of river. It lookeded nicer than Traug's old stick that Traug had losted in the dark smelly place, so Traug decided to taked it. The foresty didn't seem to minded, so Traug think it OK. Traug ready to go on now!" The small staff was about 4' long and smooth, but with a vine pattern wrapping around it. The tip had a small emerald in the shape of a pinecone.
(OOC: Well, I didn't expect Torlax to say that Traug was in the Mausoleum; I was going to take the soonest opportunity and make a post revealing that Traug had wandered off earlier, before reaching the Mausoleum, and that he had managed to find the adventurers again. It also wasn't how I had meant to give him his new staff, but oh well. At least he's back now. End OOC.)