The Dragon Helmed

Lamashan 30 Sunday waxing moon

In the morning, Toshio does up his topknot and makes himself as presentable as possible (it wouldn’t do to die scruffy). In his morning devotions he adds specific thanks for their success yesterday.

He looks for Spivey but does not see her. No one, in fact, has seen her since the left in a huff the night before.

In the morning hours, Zeyala checks though her pack and takes inventory of the potions and healing supplies. She finds a quiet corner and spends a few moments in prayer to Pharasma.

Keng wakes up feeling invigorated and powerful.  He struts around the camp site.  He jumps up grabbing ahold of a tree branch, swings forward and out landing nimbly into a somersault stands up and nods to himself with satisfaction.  He then sees a squirrel in the tree watching him and stares at him in an intimidating manner, snarling and flexing his muscles.  The resolute rodent, however, is unimpressed. It turns its back on Keng and saunters up to a higher branch. Keng laughs and toss his head. He walks back into camp and says, “Let’s finish this.”

Jethrik, on the other hand, is impressed… by the squirrel. will try to strike up a friendship with him. Using a gnomish knack for speaking with animals he says to it, “You’re an impressively brave young animal. Have you ever dreamed of seeing new horizons?” He offers him something from his rations, but the squirrel does not come down from its branch.

Eying Jethrik warily the squirrel says, “Are you nuts? I have all I need right here. Lots of nuts to eat, don’t need to go traveling with any.” Off in the distance the call of a moose is heard. “Sounds like my friend needs me. Have a good day.” The squirrel leaps off the branch and flies off to the south. Turns out it was a flying squirrel.

Toshio asks, “Everybody rested, healed and loaded? If so, I’d like to go back in to get what we came for. Who’s with me?” They already know we’re nearby, and I think Keng will like this idea. I’d like to set up a battering ram – maybe we can use the spars from that wrecked ship – then walk right up and smash their gate in. If they come to protest, well, we expected to fight them, so we can invite them out for some fun. Who’s with me?”

Keng arises and slaps his chest with his axe handle and say, “A good plan paladin!”

Uh… no.” Jethrik deadpans. “The portcullis may not be locked for one thing. It wasn’t when the pirates and I went through it yesterday. I didn’t jump because I was worried that it was locked, I was worried it would take too long for us to get through; and, well, maybe that they had locked it since yesterday. So maybe we can just walk through the front door. Now if you want to bellow “HERE I AM!” as you walk in, that’s up to you. Show me the way to the caravan first because if you guys get slaughtered I don’t want to watch it. Or be caught in it. And of course you may not! I have to admit you psychos did a lot of damage to the castle dwellers. You even killed the tengu. If I were the dude in the red robes, I’d gather up the rest of the mobs and carry off anything of value. I’d use the cover of the smoke from Jharad’s forest fire and head for safer lodgings. Maybe I would come back in a week or two. Maybe I wouldn’t. So the whole place could be empty and we might be able to go in and look for clues to Ameiko’s mystery. I think we go in without causing too much of a fuss and if there is anything left behind, we catch it unaware.”

Toshio says, “If the portcullis isn’t locked, then certainly we’ll walk in and take them by surprise. I’d still like to be ready with a battering ram though.”

“But didn’t you guy climb the walls before?” asks Jethrik. “Why not do that again?”

Before anyone can answer Jethrik, Spivey flies back in through one of the broken stained glass windows of the temple/observatory. She is carrying a pouch. It is in fact the small leather pouch that had been hanging from the tengu Kikonu’s belt. She lands with it on a pew in front of Jharad. “Half-ogres from the castle followed your tracks from earlier yesterday back to the camp. It was a close thing but Shalelu and I killed them before they could harm Ameiko. They had this on them.” She indicates the pouch. “There are five pearls and vials of ink inside and a wooden disk.” She opens the pouch and reveals the disk. It is made of darkwood with intricate silver etchings depicting Brinewall Castle and the village under a noonday sun. “After we found this disk Ameiko spoke again. She said, ‘One key you now have. The other lies in the grip of the ten-handed one – his fear is your greatest ally.’ Shalelu believes that the creatures from the castle will not hunt us in daylight, so as soon as it was dawn she sent me here to tell you what happened and bring you this pouch and the disk.”

Jethrik steps over to Spivey and takes off his hat. “Thank you for all you have done and all you are doing. I truly appreciate your friendship and I hope there is some way we can show our appreciation before we leave.”

Turning to the others, Jethrik says, “Looks like I gave Red Robes to much credit. That move was kinda stupid really. Well, I don’t see the sense in it.”

Jethrik looks at the pouch, casting a cantrip to detect any magic among the items within it. He discovers that the disk radiates a faint transmutation magic.

While Jethrik is checking the contents of the pouch, Jharad lightly touches Spivey’s back with a finger. Quietly he says, “Yes thank you Spivey. You have been nothing but helpful. I hope my banter last night did not truly upset you, I quite enjoy your companionship.”

“Don’t pay any attention to Bernie McBurnem.” Jethrik advises “We don’t.”

She smiles, flies into the air and bows. “I took no offense. You just startled me. But I am not even sure I wish to leave this place. I would not even dream of leaving until this place is free of evil and I can be sure that Desna’s shrine would not be desecrated.”

Jharad responds, “We hope to be of some help there as we intend to go back into the castle today. And I will do everything I can to protect the shrine you keep to Desna here.”

“With luck, we’ll leave you an empty castle next to the shrine,” adds Toshio to Spivey.

Turning to the paladin Jharad says, “What do you think Toshio? Our approach through the woods seems to have burned away. I am of the mind to come up directly through the gatehouse. We are not built for stealth, and need to start playing to our strengths.”

Responding to Jharad Toshio says, “We have no chance of being quiet, but we should use the southern woods for cover where we can. And I’m still in favor of breaking down the gate. That way they can’t keep us out – or keep us in when it’s time to go. We should review and define our goals before we go, though, and set some guidelines on how we progress or withdraw. Our first goal needs to be finding whatever treasure will help Ameiko. In doing this, I want all of us to come out alive. The next goal may be the same, but we need to find whatever family legacy drew Ameiko here. After that, we can eliminate evil and claim loot to our hearts’ content. We can put together a detailed attack plan soon, but first, does anyone want to discuss or change our goals?”

“Storming keeps is outside my area of expertise, so I leave that to you tacticians,” says Zeyala. “My task is to help you do what you do better and to keep you in the fight,” she continues. “I’ll do my best keep up, but please remember my cursed eyes. If you rush to far from me, then my powers will be of little use.”

Keng nods his agreement.

“Those sound great.” Jethrik replies. “I’d like to add something. It’s not really a goal per se. When I was on the Teeth of Araska, some of the guys talked about how other ships worked. Seems there’s a lot of democracy on most pirate ships. Lots of things are voted on or just kind of hashed out, but not in combat. In combat that’s when the captain is in charge. I don’t like the idea of someone having control when it isn’t needed or having more control than needed. Still that last combat and our run through the castle showed that more direction is needed. I think we need to pick one person who can call the plays when we have a need for urgent action. I have a person in mind, and I really like you all so it’s no slight or anything. I think Jharad would be a great choice. As the archer, he should have a view of everything going on and won’t be pinned down by combat. He also has access to the message cantrip to whisper direction to each of us at a distance if need be. I think that should work pretty well.”

Toshio says, ​”That’s an excellent idea, Jethrik. And I agree that Jharad would be a good choice.  He’s usually not in direct combat so he has the perspective and time to assess the whole situation. He can add his spell-power and archery as needed, and as you noted he has more ways to communicate with the rest of us. Jharad, what do you think? Are you willing to take on battlefield direction for us? Just as importantly, are the rest of you willing to follow his direction? For my part, I am.”

Jharad smiles and says, “I accept. Although I do not have the ability of the message cantrip as Jethrik believes I do. That would be available to a full wizard, which I am not. But on the subject of following my direction I would need help from Keng. Keng, I understand that you sometimes go into a rage and I will have no control over you when that happens, but at other times I need you to work better with the group. Is that possible for you to do?”

“I have no issues following your direction as long as you do not act in cowardly ways,” replies Keng.

Zeyala does her best to muffle a giggle.  She fails.

Ignoring the giggles Jharad responds, “Have I ever?”

Keng replies with a perfectly straight face, “Not yet. But you are a sorcerer.”

Now Toshio struggles to contain his laughter.

“Keng,” Jharad says with a straight face, “Do not make me turn you into a toad,” and turns away with a wide grin that only Toshio and the others can see.

Keng, for once, actually looks terrified.

Jharad says to Toshio specifically but also the others in general, “So we have a plan now. Anything else to discuss before we head in?”

Jethrik says, “I’m a little nervous without the aid of that squirrel, but I’m not ready to give up yet. Let’s go!”

Toshio says, “Thank you, Jharad. Now let’s talk about general practices for how we’re going to take this place on. I don’t want to get caught in there at night. I also want us to have some reserves left when we get back to camp to carry us through the night in case of counter-attacks or additional encounters.  That means we need to pull out before we’re out of spell power and before Keng or I get all cut up. So, I guess we’re all going to need to keep Jharad informed of out status. Since he’s coordinating our fights, I think he should be the one to call the withdrawal. Thoughts?”

When no one speaks up, Toshio continues, “Okay, here’s what I’d like to do” Toshio says. “We get a spar or beam from that wrecked ship and attach some handholds to it. We can probably find some kind of spikes on the ship that will do the job well enough. We take that and cross the open as quickly as possible, then start battering down the gate.  We make sure it can’t be closed behind us, so we can still get out when needed.

“Once in, we circle the wall clockwise, clearing opponents as we go. Keep your eyes open for ways up or down.

“When the ground floor is clear, we’ll go up,, again working clockwise, level by level, clearing each out so nothing comes in behind us.

“Then we’ll make our say down below the ground floor. I suspect that’s where we’ll find what we’re after–people don’t hide things up high; they tend to bury their treasure. That’s also where we’ll likely find most of those stinky lizards and any of their friends.

“If it’s not clear which way we should go, Jharad should make the decision. If at any time Jharad says we leave, we leave–right then, without debate or bickering.

Finally pausing, Toshio finishes saying “I know it’s a fairly general plan but it’s flexible and we don’t know much about the interior of the castle. What do you think? Oh, and we’ll need light sources.”

Keng says, “Good plan. Let’s go.”

Jharad gets up, grabs his backpack and readies himself.

“Okay then. Let’s go make a battering ram,” says Toshio.

Looking over the longship, however, it becomes clear that it would take more crafting skill and manpower than they have to make a proper battering ram, let alone wield it properly against the gate. Jethrik remembers that it took almost a dozen pirates just to lift it up.

Jharad thinks for a while on Toshio’s battering ram idea then comments, “I am not sure this battering ram idea of yours is sound. Even if we could form a suitable ram, would it not let everything in the castle know we were coming? We are not exactly trained in stealth, as is evident by our previous attempts, but we do not exactly want to just announce ourselves either. I suggest we knot Keng’s rope and climb up to the wall after Spivey performs an aerial scout to find the best location for this. Or we look around for another entrance into the castle should one exist.”

Jethrik notices Keng gazing at all the really cool bones of the sea drake on the other side of the lagoon, past the ruined bridge. “We should go over there and check that out, but let’s take care of Ameiko first. Poor thing!”

Keng nods enthusiastically, “I hear dragon bones can fetch a good price in town. Some folks need a little… stiffening,” he snorts while pantomiming a thrusting motion with his forearm and fist.

Jethrik picks up a flat stone and skips it across the surface of the lagoon “So what do you think guys think? We’ve looked into this battering ram idea and it doesn’t look like we can make it work. Should we just go up there and try to slip in all unnoticed like?”

Jharad looks at the gnome and says, “I have given my suggestions.”

Keng says, “Enough wool gathering you crazy gnome – time for fun later. Jharad, I can get us up the walls if you can find a safe place to do it from.”

Smirking at Jethrik, Jharad answers Keng, “Safe is ambiguous adjective to be sure, but lets see if we can get a better read on the situation than just guessing.”

Keng’s face screws up as he tries to understand the elf, “Huh, what is a ‘big you and us objective’?’”

All the while, Zeyala is lost in her own thoughts. It seems as if she day dreaming of exploring the wilderness rather than being bound up in endless discussion.

Toshio says, “I guess we’re back to the rope. Let’s find the best place then. “I figured we’re in for a fight, so the idea of calling their attention to the gate didn’t bother me much. Fighting on a rope? That bothers me more.”

Turning to Spivey Jharad asks, “Spivey, are you willing to perform an aerial scout on the castle for the purposes of discovering what lookouts they have positioned on the wall? We would like to affix a rope to the wall and enter the castle from the battlements, preferably without initial molestation.”

Spivey says, “Certainly. I don’t mind at all. I’ll be back in a moment.” Spivey flies off and after about twenty minutes she returns to report, “There doesn’t seem to be anyone or anything on the walls or on the grounds. It is very quiet up there. I flew up near the gatehouse as well, no one seems to be inside. You could easily have Keng climb up to the roof and go in and open up the gates.”

“I can do that,” says Keng.

Jharad says with a smile, “Excellent, thanks Spivey. Lets be about it then.”

Keng leads the way to the walls below the gatehouse. He takes his climbing gear out and begins swinging the grappling hook around his head then let’s it fly up not the parapet edge where it securely lands with a thunk. He tests the bite to ensure it is set and then nimbly, for such a big man, climbs up the rope and over the edge onto the roof. Once on the roof he looks around but doesn’t see anyone or anything, either on the gatehouse or on any of the other battlemounts. The courtyard is also empty. All is still and quiet just as Spivey said. He collects his gear, coiling his rope and stowing it in his pack, and then heads into the tower and down the ladder to the ground floor. Nothing and no one there. He uses the winch to open the portcullis and says to the others, “It’s too quiet. Something ain’t right.”

Jharad says, “Okay everyone, keep your eyes open. We begin clearing methodically clockwise like Toshio said. Keng, watch the entrance to the courtyard there,” Jharad points to the gateway leading from the gatehouse to the courtyard, “while the rest of us quickly look this area over. Then we move out into the courtyard cautiously and move left along the wall.”

Once out in the courtyard they are very wary. Toshio and Keng lead the way concentrating on what is before them. Jharad and Jethrik act as lookouts, turning around often and looking around up and down. All the while keeping Zeya tucked in the middle of the group.

The first door they come to is an entrance to the tower just west of the gatehouse. Inside is a cramped room containing several old crates and barrels covered with thick layers of dust. They are not empty, but may have once been used to store arrows, torches, and other supplies. A ladders goes up to a trap door in the ceiling to provide access to the second and top floor of the tower and from there to the walkways on the battlements.

Nothing is found in the gatehouse. Moving out of the gatehouse along the south walls to the west they come upon the stables. The double doors are hanging open and the walls are gray with age and sag ominously, yet the building seems relatively sound. With light from Jethrik’s pebble they can see that inside is an old forge to the south, while five empty horse stalls stand to the north. After a quick search nothing is found within of any interest, other than a lot of disturbingly large spider webs.

“Those webs are probably from the spiders that attacked the pirates and me.” Jethrik offers. “I don’t think we should spend too much time here, but maybe we should open that door.” The door, however, is just an entrance into another guard tower, it is almost identical to the last.

Past the stables and to the north is another door into a yet another guard tower. It is no different than the first two.

Moving along they find a side door on the northwest side of the keep but do not open it. Moving along the south side of the keep they pass the double doors into the throne room. Just past that in a shaded area past pillars underneath a second story overhand Jharad’s elven familiarity with such things allows him to spot an area of the wall that looks as though it might have a seam around it indicating a secret door. Passing under the walkway bridge they come into the eastern end of the courtyard. The only doors there are on the south and east side into guard towers and another side door on the west side into the keep.

After surveying the possible entries into the first level of the castle itself Jharad says quietly to the others, “There is an area of the wall near the middle pillars which may be a less used entrance. Let us investigate and possible use that to enter and clear the first floor.”

At that point, Spivey bids them goodbye for the time being. “I do not wish to enter the keep. I am not a fighter or explorer, after all. I will go back and help Shalelu keep Ameiko safe. I will come find you again at sundown at the observatory to let you know how she is and to make sure that you are all well. My prayers are with you.” Without waiting for a response she flies back over the wall and south to the camp.

As he’s done before Jethrik opens the door while using it as cover. When it is open, he tosses the light pebble in. The secret door that looks just like the wall and fits almost seamlessly into it opens inwardly. Inside is a 5’ wide by 15’ long hall. To the immediate right is a door, in the middle of the hall on the left is another door, and at the end of the hall to the north is a 3rd door.

Keng turns to the door on the right and opens it. He peers inside. Four stone pillars support the roof of this irregularly shaped hall that is roughly 30’ by 40.’ What appears to have once been wooden cages lie in shambles throughout the room. A heap of rags and furs in the middle of the room seems to be some sort of makeshift bed, while a large heap of partially eaten birds, squirrels, and wild turnips mounded nearby reeks with the stink of compost. Next to that is a spit on which is the partially eaten corpse of a naked and plucked Kikonu. His black feathers and leather armor have been thrown upon the midden pile.

Toshio whispers, “It seems they really need to vary their diet and practice their cooking skills.”

“Eat the rich.” Jethrik muses over the corpse of the former king of the Brinewall ruins.

They another door on the opposite side, probably opening up into the eastern courtyard. From the curve of the wall to the northeast this chamber is probably abutting the tower on the northeast side of the western courtyard. From the door, Keng doesn’t see anyone nor does there seem to be anything of value or interest.

Jethrik picks up his pebble as Keng looks into the chamber on the right. Jharad remains at the secret door peering back outside while both Keng and Toshio check each of the inner doors.

Toshio opens the door on the left and sees that it opens up into a 15’ by 15’ chamber that looks like it must have been the keep’s latrine and washroom. There are no other doors.

Keng opens the door at the end of the hall and finds that it opens into a short 10’ by 15’ side hall of the east side of the throne room. At the eastern end of this sidehall are two double doors. Jethrik remembers that these lead to a large circular room with a balcony where Captain Grudge was weakened by Kikonu’s magic, the deciding factor in the pirate’s retreat from Castle Brinewall. The main hall of the throne room itself is 20’ wide and seems to run the entire length of the keep’s interior. Rotting, faded banners hang from the walls of this long hall, depicting a stylized castle sitting on a seaside cliff. Thick stone pillars support the ceiling, while at the far end of the hall sits an old wooden throne, its back carved to resemble the towers of a castle wrapped in the coils of a serpentine dragon. From where Keng is looking he can see a door on the far wall of the hall. He can see the dark stains on the floor left by the blood and brains of the pirate Solemn Jack who was killed there by a troglodyte.

Keng, needing no light from Jethrik’s pebble and unafraid of the troglodytes, walks across the hall to the far doors and opens them. Behind the door is an empty room about 30’ by 35.’ A large table lies in shambles in the middle of the room, while crumbled suits of armor bearing decorations of dragons twisting around castle towers lies in heaps along the walls. A flight of stairs winds up along a curved wall to the north, probably to the second floor of the tower they first entered the day before. The air in this room feels stuffy and carries the eye-watering reptilian stink of troglodytes. On the west side of the room is a door, and there is another on northeast wall, and another to the left of the door Keng opened.

Jethrik hands his pebble off to Toshio so that the paladin can catch up to the impetuous Keng.

Keng turns around and waits for the rest to catch up.  He asks, “Which way? Up or down?”

Jharad points to the door Keng just opened. “Through there,” he says quietly, “we continue to clear the way of a clock.”

Going clockwise, Keng opens the door to the immediate left of the door he enters the room by and finds stairs going down. The next door, the one on the west wall, opens into an irregularly sized room about 15’ wide by 30’ deep with a door on the opposite side, most likely the door to the eastern side of the courtyard. The only thing in the room is a large number of ruined bunks that have been heaped into a nest-shaped mound in the center of the room. As Toshio sheds light into the room from the doorway with Jethrik’s light pebble the snout of an enormous cave lizard, easily 8’ long, pokes out of the nest and hisses at them. Half of its face is peeling off which is quite disconcerting, though of course this just means that it is shedding its skin.

Keng steps back outside and closes the door, “Don’t kick sleeping dogs, or lizards.” He moves on to the next door.

Zeyala nervously nods in agreement.

Jethrik gives a thumbs-up and moves along without even casting detect magic.

The room past the door on the northeast side only contains several ruined beds in various states of disrepair, their moldy mattresses piled into a filthy heap against the northern wall. Jharad sees that there is a secret door on the southeast wall leading back into the throne room. A cursory inspection finds nothing of interest in this room either.

Back in the throne room, the next door they come to is just behind and to the left of the throne as one faces it. Unlike the other doors that are of sturdy wood and unlocked, this door is made of iron and locked tight. No one present is able to pick locks and the door is far beyond what even Keng could break down. That is when Jharad remembers the skeleton key he found in the box that he unearthed by the lighthouse. He brings it out and notes that it is very rusty and delicate. It might snap in the lock. Zeyala fixes this with an orison of mending. Fortunately, the key fits the lock and they are able to pass through into the donjon, the innermost keep of the castle.

Past the door the hall turns off to the northeast and ends in a semi-circular room with old tapestries depicting a seaside castle hanging askew on the walls. A thick layer of dust cakes the floor – this was not a place where the dire corbies or troglodytes seem to have come into. In the light cast by the enchanted pebble they can see that old bloodstains splatter the walls, along with numerous brutal gashes and slashes to the stone itself. Two doors hang askew on hinges in a passageway to the south, while to the north, a third door lies in fragments on the floor, opening onto a flight of stairs leading down into darkness. A second staircase on the east side of the north wall leads into the upper reaches of the donjon.

There doesn’t seem to be anything of immediate interest in the main area so Keng goes down the hall to the south to check out the two rooms there, with the others lining up behind him in the regular marching order, Toshio bearing the lighted pebble behind Keng, then Jharad, then Zeyala, and then Jethrik at the end, watching behind them for any creature that might come at them from the stairs or the door back into the throne room. The attack is swift and even catches Keng off-guard. As he reaches the end of the hall a warrior in the bloodstained remnants of a destroyed suit of half-plate armor lurches out of the door to the east. A longsword hangs from the warrior’s belt but it remains in its scabbard as the warrior lashes out at Keng with terrible, blackened claws. The claws gouge into Keng’s neck though the injury is only superficial. What is more worrisome is that Keng can feel his life force being leached away by the touch of the thing attacking him. The warrior glares at Keng from behind the visor of its helm with eyes that visibly glowing red like burning coals.

Jharad steps back to stand beside Zeyala and readies an arrow as he says, “Everyone back here, pull them into this room.”

Toshio takes position on Zeyala’s other side. He tosses the pebble back to Jethrik standing behind her and draws Whispering Shrike.

Keng groans in pain but manages to slash viciously at the creature before staggering back down the hall.

The undead warrior follows Keng down the hall, continuing to claw at him. It scratches Keng on the right arm, a small scratch and yet again Keng feels his life being drawn out of him causing the creatures eyes to flare even brighter in the dark passageway.

Jethrik calls out “It’s a wight stay out of range of his touch!” as he rushes around the others and looks for a way to get at the creature.

Zeyala calls out, “Let Phrasama’s energy cleanse those that should be at rest.” A burst of light radiates out from the oracle causing the unnatural creature to screech in pain as it is briefly limned in holy light. It is not enough however, to destroy it.

Jharad follows up with an arrow that flies past Keng and strikes it in the head. It’s eyes dim and darken and it collapses into an unmoving heap.

Zeyala goes to Keng’s side and looks him over. From her training with the Pharasmin clergy she recognizes the signs of Keng’s life force having been drained from him, something only the more powerful undead such as wights and vampires are able to do. “Keng, I’m sorry, but I my powers are not strong enough to undo this,” says Zeyala.  ”All I can is pray that your strength is enough to overcome this.”

While Zeyala attends to Keng, Jethrik casts his cantrip to detect magic and finds that the longsword belonging to the now destroyed wight is radiating faint magic but he cannot tell of what school. When Jharad looks at the aura with his own cantrip he recognizes it as belonging to the evocation school, typical for magical enhancements placed on weapons.

After identifying the blade Jharad looks at Jethrik and comments, “This is a tad more my size I believe,” and slips the blade into his own scabbard. His old common sword he leaves with the pile of dead wight.

“Another short joke?” Jethrik sounds hurt.

With a straight face Jharad responds, “What you lack in vertical prominence I am sure you make up in horizontal enthusiasm.”

Jethrik makes a gesture “Yeah… go give yourself some horizontal enthusiasm.”

Jharad laughs then asks, “So Zeyala, will he live?”

Zeyala looks away from Keng and forces a smile.  ”He is strong,” she says. “He’ll survive. He’ll be back to his old self in no time.”

Pondering the seriousness of Keng’s injuries Jharad says, “Keng, you should fall back from point. Toshio, take his place and I will back you up. Keng will replace me as mid guard.”

“Yes,” replies Keng in a strangely subdued voice, “I am not myself. I feel like a 12 year old boy.”

She walks over to others and out of Keng’s earshot and whispers, “I pray his spirit is strong enough to recover. We must not give up hope, for his sake.”

Jharad frowns with concern and responds just a bit too loudly, “Wait, his injuries are so dire he may not recover?”

“For having such large ears, you don’t seem to hear very well,” says Zeyala. She looks at Keng and smiles. “My powers are strong enough, but his spirit is. He will recover.” She glares at Jharad momentarily and then begins fidgeting with her pack.

“See Keng, you will be fine,” says Jharad with a wide smile. “You ready to get back to work?”

The room that the wight came out of is a small one, no more than 10’ wide and not even that deep. Trophy displays for armor and weapons, along with a large bed, an ornate writing desk, and a leather chair, lie in shambles in this chamber, smashed to ruins. A thick layer of dust clings to everything in the room. There is nothing of magic in the room, nor anything else of interest upon a cursory inspection.

The room across the hall is roughly the same size, perhaps a little smaller. The desk and chairs that once decorated this room lie in shambles on the floor. A flight of stairs leads up to the southeast. Again, nothing of magic in this room either, but there do seem to be several papers more or less intact and perhaps readable scattered around the remains of the desk.

Toshio takes the dragon helm from the wight and examines it, discovering that it is covered in whithered and crumbling bits of its former owner.

Jharad incants, “Parvo dolis,” as he waves his hand over the object leaving it shiny and clean. “There you go, less chance of catching some disease.”

Toshio tucks the cleansed helm under his arm, takes off his own helmet and sets it on the ground, then tries on the dragon helm for size. Finding it to his liking, he adjusts the strap and moves into point position. “Ready” he says, and tucks the glowing pebble in his belt to free his hands for Whispering Shrike.

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