Passage of the Ancients

Ludo was exhausted, the journey had been long and tiring. The pressure of the pursuing Gnolls was relentless and, worst of all, he could not foresee a happy evening to their predicament. Once the Gnolls caught them up, it would be curtains for all of them. He was sure of that. He could not help glancing back every few seconds. As the Gnolls got ever closer, he wondered if this was the end. He felt sure that Feldard would go out in a blaze of glory and take a few of the Gnolls with him, but the end would be the same. An ignoble death at a bunch of savage beasts, his head stuck on a pole. He shuddered at the thought.

When he had seen the gorge ahead, Ludo felt this was the border of the Gnolls territory and maybe just maybe they would not pursue the group beyond the bridge. Ludo did not care what was on the other side, anything would be better than facing these blood thirsty pack of Gnolls. Ludo strode out.

“Come on! If we can get to the bridge we will be safe,” he gasped. His mouth felt dry, with fear and lack of water, since he dared not slow down even to drink from his canteen.

Stephan barely glanced back at the menacing war party.

“Must. Keep. Going,” he said in successive blasts of exhaled air. “That tunnel is our only hope. The Traladaran was severely fatigued. His bandages, like Hasan’s, were stained anew with fresh blood from wounds that should not be subjected to the brutal march they’d done.

“Looks like a bridge,” he said in gasping breaths. “Better defense. We must make it to the bridge.”

Maruc wholeheartedly agreed with Stephan. The dark tunnel swallowed them up.

The thunderous roar of the falls followed them into the tunnel, and echoed around the damp and dripping walls. A short way ahead, the tunnel bent to the right, and began to ascend in broad steps. The undisturbed mud on the floor foretold that no one had been here for many years.

With a weary grunt, Feldard followed after his party. It made for a steep climb and the giant gnoll warband made a huge racket that was amplified by the echo haunted gorge.

It wasn’t long before their tired legs brought them to the top of the tunnel stairway. It opened out directly above a raging torrent of water, mere yards from where it fell into the valley below. Spanning the river between the tunnel mouth and the far side was a wide stone bridge which was straddled, halfway across, by a squat, crumbling stone tower.

On the bridge, in front of the tower, three skeletons lied, face downwards on the flagstones, They seemed to be crawling back toward the tunnels, away from the stone tower.

A road, cut into the cliff-like side of the pass, ran from the far side of the bridge, on the other side of the tower, climbed steeply up into the Black Peaks.

The priest look nervously at the tunnel mouth. “Is their anything you can do Miklos?”

Miklos nodded grimly. “Everyone, get away from the tunnel mouth I shall attempt to bring the roof down on them.”

Hasan gasped as Miklos prepared to cast his spell. “I suppose no exit is better than sure death, but that’s rather uncomfortable,” the elf grumbled. “I do hope the bridge is sound.”

Miklos glanced nervously at the bridge and hoped his lightning bolt wouldn’t fracture the bridge instead of bringing the roof of the tunnel down. But they had little choice he had to delay them until they were well into the mountains, and whatever lay beyond. He would have to refer to the tapestry to check their path was true.

He checked the party were behind him. “Stay away from the edge of the bridge. Don’t become a target for bows.” Although thankfully gnolls didn’t seem to be blessed with too many ranged weapons, but among the swarm charging into the lower tunnel mouth there was no guarantee of that.

The adventurers had fully expected the gnoll army to charge into the tunnel up after them, but they did not. Instead, their forces gathered in the gorge. In addition to the gnolls, there were giant boars leashed to their ogre masters. The gnoll chieftain made his way to the front.

The gnoll army stood and watched their quarry as they stood on the bridge, waiting for them to enter the small ancient tower.

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7 Comments

Filed under D&D, Dungeons & Dragons, rpg

7 responses to “Passage of the Ancients

  1. 4:50pm, Soladain, the 11th of Flaurmont, 1001AC
    Clear, dry, warm.

    Maruc: 10xp+5xp+10xp
    Miklos: 10xp+5xp
    Feldard: 10xp
    Hasan: 10xp
    Stephan: 10xp+10xp
    Ludo: 10xp+10xp

    TOTAL:
    Maruc: 27,900/48000
    Miklos: 27,785/40000
    Feldard: 28,260/34000
    Hasan: 27,275/32000
    Stephan: 27,380/32000
    Ludo: 27,025/40,000

  2. Maruc

    “Hold Miklos.” Maruc stopPed the chanting mage. “They seem to fear the bridge.There must be something here that they fear. You might need your powerful magic’s ahead, rather than behind.”

    Maruc lent closer, “Golthar was keen to get the tapestry from us. Perhaps it was for this reason? May be it is a key in more ways that one?”

  3. miklosdostevar

    “Well, Maruc I was about to have a look at the map anyway. After to rather pressing urgency of the warband. But they seem to not wish the climb up. That is good, we deserve so luck.” Miklos hunted for the map and look a look. ” See here the map clearly indicates the way into the mountains. This must be the path, See the ancient ruin on the bridge? Easily as old as this map.” Mikos offered to map up to the horizon. ” See? Yes it is quiet clear. Notice that rock spur? Yes this is the way.”

    Clutching the map like a lit brand, Miklos lead the way across the bridge and through the ruin.”

  4. As the party passed the three skeletons, the dwarf took a moment to look over them more carefully to determine how they might have been killed. Everything about the scene, gave the dwarf a chilling feel. There were no arrows or bolts as he first suspected there would be.

    Whatever had killed them, it did not seem to have been any physical weapon that Feldard knew of. But what bothered him most was their positioning. What manner of men would crawl away, as if in fear, rather than face an oncoming death with honor and dignity? No. Whatever had happened here, gave the dwarf a sense of foreboding about the ancient tower. However, unlike the corpses, he would face whatever it was head on.

    Feldard glanced back to the gnoll warparty watching from the gorge: waiting. It was disturbing, the fact that the gnolls seemed to know something about this place that his party did not. But Feldard, put his apprehension aside and checked his weapons, ensuring they were at the ready – his crossbow still loaded, his axe but a swift release from use – then he followed the party into the ruins.

  5. Ludo

    Ludo stooped by the skeletons and did a quick search however he could not find anything of value, “there is nothing of value on them, they must have been here a long time Master Dwarf”, he said to Feldard.

    As he stood up, he glanced back half expecting to see the Gnolls to come charging across the bridge, but it seemed that they had given up the chase. He cheerfully said “Oh well it looks like we have seen the back of those Gnolls; Feldard maybe we could spend the night in yonder ruin to rest, I doubt those Gnolls are going to trouble us now”. Slinging his backpack he confidently advanced towards the tower happy that they were now not being pursued and would have a chance to rest.

  6. hasan

    “If we are unhurried,” Hasan cautioned, “let us not rush. Search for magic in that tower, Miklos, afore we return as these lads did.” The elf stepped gently past the three corpses, then paused. Stripping out his weathered spellbook, the elf drew a mysterious rune in the air and whispered softly to the whipping wind. He then smiled to his companions and advanced.

    (Hasan will cast Protection from Evil from his spellbook.)

  7. Stephan genuflected to Halav upon seeing the skeletons. The eerie halt and silence of the gnoll war party made the scene worse. He too eyed the skeletons as they passed. The obvious terror and agony still on the “faces” and in the body positions brought a welling terror to Stephan’s heart. He steeled himself to his duty and kept pace with his comrades.

    He kept his shield up against the gnolls and other creatures watching them from below and proceeded with the party into the structure on the bridge.

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