“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?”
“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.” Miklos 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 toward the ruin.
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. Likely it had been some sort of blunt force trauma judging by some of the broken bones. 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.
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 paused their 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.
Feldard too glanced back to the gnoll war party watching from the gorge, waiting. Unlike the rogue, he found it disturbing. The fact that the gnolls seemed to know something about this place that his party did not. Nevertheless, 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.
The tower was 20 foot square and spread the width of the bridge. It had once been larger, but now only the ground floor was intact.
The large bronze door on its front was closed. It was engraved with a geometric pattern not unlike that of the ancient tapestry.
“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.
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.
Inside was a bare windowless room, occupied by two 10-foot-high steel statues depicting the same race of robed jackal men that the party had been encountering throughout the Duchy. Many more skeletons littered the ground. Quite a few gnolls and an ogre. And then there were some human warriors, and a couple others, likely mages judging by the robes. Near one of the robed corpses was a wand, and another clutched a scroll in his bone hand.
As soon as the door had been opened, the statues began to move, slowly at first. The golden threads on the tapestry began to glow in the mage’s hands. The statues did not attack. Instead, they stood to the side and bowed.