Saturday, 3 September 2011

The road to Seawell: Ozymandias

  Having recovered from the worst of the poison, Raylin takes advantage of the rest to heal Lawson, who’s taken a few blows over the course of their fights. Divine power replenishes his strength and halts the flow of blood. Despite many misgivings, they decide it’s time to see what’s lurking behind the last and grandest of the stone doors. As with the three others, its magical ward seems to have been broken by the storm, and it leans precariously against an imposing frame. A gentle tug is enough to swing it aside, to thud against the wall and rest there.

  The room inside is large, grand – and occupied. Heavy spiral-carved columns jut upwards, apparently more decorative than functional. The stone walls are inlaid with panels of etched bronze, still highly polished and free of green patina despite the march of time. Dozens of spears are piled along the walls, each broken carefully in half. In the centre stands a large stone slab, and a large figure is stretched out on it. Coins, nuggets and gold dust have been poured over the bier, and spilled out onto the floor beneath. The creature is clad in a long robe and many ornate cloth belts. Its face is goblinlike, but it is far larger than any goblin, and has a mane of coarse hair. It looks dry and withered, but otherwise intact.

  “This is very interesting!” remarks the Professor. “I’m fairly sure this is what they call a ‘bugbear’. Their civilisation was quite prominent in Thelos at one time, but they vanished centuries ago. I’ve seen a few other bugbear antiquities, but this one is remarkably well-preserved.”

  Raylin is beginning to feel somewhat jaded, and sense a certain inevitability to the creature’s remarkable state of preservation. The room tingles with old magic. Taking a firm grip on her sword, she strides over to the corpse, and seeing an eyelid twitch she stabs it with all her strength. It emits a low, gasping croak and slowly heaves itself off the bier. Raylin calls on the gods to destroy the creature, and it cowers back as brilliant light washes over it, searing its flesh. Interposing his armoured self between the mummy and the lightly-armoured priestess, Lawson manages to trip it over with a well-aimed kick. They seize the opportunity to variously hack, stab, shoot, and in one case bite at the thing while it struggles to recover itself. Despite the quarrels protruding from its torso, it lurches back to its feet and swings a hulking mace at Lawson, cracking his ribs and sending him sprawling back against the wall. Thankfully Mr. Barky leaps forward to distract it, giving him time to recover himself. With its attention firmly on the nimble wolf, the others have time to pound it with crossbow bolts and swords, hacking it apart until the necromatic bindings dissipate and it finally lies still. Apart from Lawson’s injury, they have escaped this battle more or less unscathed.

  Now that the tomb is cleared of dangers, they can finally rest. They tend their wounds and doze by the fire. The rest of the night passes uneventfully, and the storm gradually blows itself out. When morning comes, they poke around the ruins in a more leisurely fashion. They gather up the treasures they’ve found, since nobody else has any need of them. The chieftain’s tomb yields a sizeable bag of gold fragments, and they load the bandits’ loot carefully onto the horses. Raylin and the Professor take a few notes on their discovery to report when they reach civilisation. With their preparations over, it’s time to continue their journey.