The giant Begbones limped desperately away from the cave entrance, but the two archers pursued him relentlessly, eventually downing him for good. After searching him and finding nothing, the party returned to the caverns and explored the area beyond his mate Godeva’s corpse. They found a pile of bones, weapons, and armor and piled what was still usable outside the entrance to the cave. The best of these items was a broadsword of quality (+1), which they presented to Sheriff Humfreyye. He was suitably thankful.
Then they began the exploration of the rest of the cave. The passages to the rear of the cave were so narrow they had to go single file. When they ran into an underground river crossing the passage, Josette climbed over Ian, Brendan, and Alexios to shape footholds in the wall so they could avoid the water.
Pressing on, they unknowingly reached the region where the Necromancer Sely once lived. In one section of the river, Alexios spotted something the size of a dog or larger in the water, moving against the current, though he couldn’t see exactly what. They found several old narrow wooden bridges crossing the river, and were careful on them. Most supported the weight, but one collapsed.
They came to a laboratory and torture room, with a suit of plate armor in each corner, posed with arms resting on a broadsword. The cage and manacled torture table in the center of the room were the marks of a necromancer, though the party did not know that. Alexios voiced a fear that the armor might animate, so no one touched anything, for now.
The next room was a well-appointed ladies bedroom, with four poster bed, chaise lounge, chest of drawers, two chairs, and a chest. Everything was neat and tidy, without dust, but the linens were very old and rotten. A shield of quality (+1) leaned against one wall. The party was puzzled and worried by this strange find. Who lived here? And where were they now?
Greed quickly won out, and Alexios de-activated the steel scorpion sting trap on the chest and then opened the lock. In the chest they found a pile of silks and jewelry. Alexios pushed this back and forth with a sword, looking for another trap within, but found nothing. As the chest was connected to the floor, Ian decided to find something to pry it up with. He went to the previous room and tried to grab a sword from one of the armors, at which point they animated and attacked him.
Brendan was looking in that direction and saw two suits of plate rushing to attack Ian, and alerted the rest of the party. Approaching the room, he found Ian surrounded by the four suits, and taking multiple wounds, including a grim wound on his right thigh as he broke free of the circle. Brendan considered nocking an arrow, but seeing that Ian had done no damage with his longsword and that Ian needed help to return to the narrow passage, he helped Ian instead. Brendan supported Ian from the back, and Ian fought a rearguard action against the armor, which now had to attack him one at a time and could no longer penetrate his defense. Brendan searched his brain for lore of the creatures, and remembered that these were Guardians of Blackwile, creations of a necromancer. He did not remember that they were made by binding a poltergeist to a suit of armor, but he did remember they could not be hurt except by elemental, faerie, or demon weapons.
Behind them, Alexios was waiting to help. Josette sensed danger (based on her Telepathy skill) but realized that it was not from the armor but from behind her. Whirling, she found herself under attack. Two air elementals were trying to suck the wind from her lungs, making her unable to speak. And around a corner was running a large ugly woman in mithril half-plate with a broadsword. Josette forced the elementals from her with a wave, but could not banish them entirely. She then scuttled away from the attacker as best she could. Luckily, the woman was an atrocious fighter (skill of 5) and she could not land a blow on Josette (fighting skill of 2!) while Josette was retreating so quickly. The next round, Alexios and Humfreyye came to Josette’s aid, both striking the woman. Josette considered sending her fire elemental into the air elementals (which would have caused an explosion) but instead sent it against the Guardians. Brendan shouted back what he knew of the creatures, confirming the action.
Unfortunately, the fire elemental was a small one and could not do anything to the Guardians. Brendan took Ian’s place and held the corridor as Ian sank to the ground from blood loss. As the only medic in the party, Ian began once more the now familiar act of performing surgery on himself. It is a good thing he has a high WILL. Meanwhile, the attacking woman fumbled an Intelligence roll and continued to fight. Bad move. Alexios landed a major wound on her chest, enough to put her down. She quickly bled to death. Josette then turned her attention to the Guardians and tried banishing them. She did so successfully for all four Guardians, though it took all of her fortunae to do so.
Alexios began stripped the woman of her valuables. Her mithril half-plate was built for MASS:10, and Alexios was only MASS:9, so it was a bit big, but it was wearable, and he replaced his old Jacke with it. He also appropriated her Weylan’s Cloak (it flutters impressively around one, powered by an air elemental), and her broadsword of quality (+2 to hit, +2 damage). The woman herself was very ugly, and her clothes were old and rotten like the rest of the linens, and heavily stained. While everyone’s attention was on Alexios, Brendan explored the chest and found silks worth 500 s., 12 emeralds, 3 necklaces worth 120 s. each, 300 s., and a golden chamber pot worth 20 F. He immediately claimed the chamber pot as his own.
The party put the pale dead woman on the bed, along with a partially-healed but now sleeping Ian, and set Humfreyye to guard them as the party completed their sweep through the local tunnels. They found the passage unexpectedly blocked, and Josette searched for a possible earth elemental in the area. She found it, and happily bound it to her service, naming him George. He was a grumpy and resentful elemental, especially when they used his head as a stepping stone to cross one of the creeks, but he reopened the passages he and the other earth elemental (still on the loose) had closed. The party found nothing of worth. The most interesting element was four empty chests. But they went far away from the chamber with Humfreyye. And for some reason, the referee kept asking Ian and Alexios (who controlled the NPC Humfreyye) to make some rolls.
Returning to the room, they found Humfreyye bleeding out and astride Ian’s body (Ian had not awakened). Alexios tried to sew Humfreyye’s wounds, but instead made them worse, but they prodded Ian awake and he was able to sew them closed. Josette could then heal the Sheriff, who told of being attacked by five emaciated men with long nails like daggers. He fought them off, though he doesn’t know how. Nothing he did to them did any damage (the warriors in the party noted that Humfreyye’s sword was not silver coated) and they were so strong he is amazed to be alive. They took the woman’s body and left, thank Grom, but he didn’t see where. He was too wounded. Alexios searched the area for tracks and found wet footsteps leading back to the underground river.
After Humfreyye mentioned that there were werewolves to the north, the party decided to return to Kukgul with their booty and heal. Aig the squire and the Selkie rejoined them. While at Kukgul, they consulted the wise woman of the town, a midwife. She told them the caves were the ancient haunt of Nicrodemos, a powerful dragon. After Brendan and Ian chortled at the fabrication, she got very huffy and flipped off the party. Alexios made some amends, but she was on the whole displeased with the rest of them.
Alexios and Brendan toasted Humfreyye’s deeds and all had a marvelous night at the inn, though Ian was chagrined to discover the limitations of the kitchen. He had wanted to buy Humfreyye a royal meal for saving his life, but that was beyond the cook’s abilities. It was, after all, a very small village. They also gave a suit of plate from the caves to Humfreyye, who then gave it to the blacksmith to clean, refurbish, and prepare for his use. The party plans to return to the caves and clean them out, and then visit Amidst, the third village of the Pass.