“‘Arrange themselves’?”, Stephan echoed Maruc and Miklos’ words they read from the ancient tome. “So the priests stood around at certain spots?” Stephan looked around the floor for spots. “I don’t see any spots.” Looking up, “I say we get out of here. The jackal heads up there will know what to do with the tome. Maybe they can stand around in spots. There’s naught else to learn here.” He turned and started up the steps to join Feldard at the top.
Ludo crouched beside Stephan and Feldard at the top of the stairs and gazed at the setting sun. “It took us most of the day to travel here. We know these lands are filled with the walking dead after sunset. Would you agree it would be prudent to stay here tonight and return to the village on the morrow at first light? Just a thought.”
Feldard looked out over the ruins as the sun began to set. He nodded at Ludo’s words. “Quite prudent. We’ll take turns at watch. You can have first. I’ll take the mid-night watch.”
With that said the dwarf moved back down the stairs to inform the others. “We’re staying the night. Rest while you can we’ll likely have undead visitors during the night.” He began pulling out some dried meat and biscuits from his pack as an evening meal then settled himself down to eat and rest.
“Well, Miklos, I see nothing,” a resigned Hasan complained. “Tomorrow, we shall return this text to the Hutakaa and see what they can make of it. When it comes time friends, let me do the talking. And keep those under your wraps,” the elf nodded at the jewels found by the Hutakaan grave.
Maruc bent over the pale glow of a yellow candle, that emitted a sharply piney smell a it burned. The cleric prayed for the cleansing of the tomb and the might of Halav to strengthen his hand as he brought justice to those who brought the foul dead to haunt such places. When the priest finally ended his reverie, he joined his friends in a modest meal of salted pork and smoked cheese. “Yes,” he agreed with Feldard, “We should stay. I suspect our Hutakaan guard have long fled their posts.”
“Who could blame them?” Miklos interjected. “We face foes greater than any web have before. We were fortunate against that mummy, but the next time may not go as well. The Hutakaa and even more the black Darkers have much to answer.”
Stephan eyed the door, ensuring that it could at least be barred in a fashion with an ancient but seemingly stout plank of wood left discarded in a dusty corner.
“Da,” he said as if some great decision had been reached. “By Halav, I’m not happy to pass the night in this place.” Looking to Maruc, “You’re sure that Halav has cleansed this pit?”
“Yes, Stephan,” Maruc rested a reassuring hand on the woodman’s shoulder. “Though dark forces have long been at work here, I feel Halav’s strength in my prayers. He has provided. We are safe for now.”
Stephan took some measure of comfort from the priest’s words. Maruc, despite wielding remarkable ferocity in battle, could sooth the more grievous of wounds to the soul.
Miklos did not seem appeased by the priest of Halav’s words. “Might Halav also remove the smoldering remains of that mummy and provide some proper bedding?” Maruc’s return gaze at Miklos was withering. “Of course,” Miklos uncharacteristically stammered, “Mighty Halav has delivered us and we… I… am grateful.”
* * * * *
It was a restless night in the crypt. The party was troubled by strange ghostly noises, distant wailing and the like. Those who were able to sleep were troubled by nightmares of unseen ancient evil and hordes of undead.
At daybreak, they were all quite eager to leave the Hutaakan ruin. Their Hutaakan guides were long gone, but Hasan had no trouble retracing their route back to the Hutaakan village. The normally reserved jackal-headed humanoids actually showed some signs of excitement at seeing their return.
Kforedz and her flock assembled to greet the heroes.
“You have returned!“ she exclaimed. “We had feared that you had met your end inside the Vault. Have you found the Tome?”