Falconbridge

Chapter 6: Where Darkness Reigns

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Jaccob miller
Jaccob Miller

Jaccob pauses for a moment to let Kasper catch up. The dead boy casts a furtive glance into the inky blackness beyond the mine shaft before extending one of his sallow, bony hands towards the gnome in a way that is painfully vulnerable and utterly life-like. Kasper takes the boys hand, feeling the cold, rough flesh against his own. He peers into the darkness beyond the steady but meagre light cast by his enspelled stone. “It’s here, isn’t it,” he whispers to Jaccob, referring to the Black Alter.

The boy turns his eyes towards Kasper and nods.

“Do the others come here too?,” the gnome asks: “The other Tormented Ones.”

Again Jaccob nods his head.

They pause for a long moment, a feeling of foreboding rushing through Kasper. Without a word they step forward, hand in hand, into the gloom beyond.

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As Brother Brandos, Sir Tristan and Ssibliss recover in the burnt out taproom of the Red Dragon Inn, Kasper follows Jaccob Miller across the countryside towards the Black Alter. Fearful of being observed, and wary of how short time is, Kasper summoned a horse and then used a glamour to minimize the chances of observers seeing him or Jaccob.

After a time they came to a rocky outcropping that proved to be a waste pit from a long abandoned mine. Without delay Jaccob entered the darkness, beckoning for Kasper to follow. As he did, the wail of a warhorn echoed through the valley. Kasper paused, but decided that following Jaccob was more prudent. He cast a light spell on a stone and then plunged into the darkness.

In the village, Brandos, Tristan and Ssibliss heard the horn and sprung into action. They gathered horses from the stables and headed into the black of night to seek its source. They rode first for Old Fort to see if the horn had been winded by the Company of the Iron Wolves who were encamped there. They found the camp roused, but determined that they were not the ones who had blown it.

Next they headed to the encampment of the dwarven miners. There they discovered that the dwarves had only just repelled an assault by several Tormented Ones. Many dwarves had been killed and several had been dragged into the mines by the fearsome and hateful dead creatures. Rurik was preparing to lead a group of heavy infantry into the depths on a rescue mission. Brandos, Tristan and Ssibliss offered to accompany them.

Into the depths they plunged, winding through the maze of tunnels and shafts that crisscrossed beneath the Namaran Valley.

Kasper, meanwhile, had followed Jaccob through the mines, to a massive chamber that was honeycombed with entrances and exits. It was like a hub with tunnels leading off in every direction. The chamber’s floor was divided by a shallow river of cold, clear water. Jutting from the wall, like some kind of rough stone prow was a rock of deepest black. It was utterly unlike any of the other minerals in the mines, seeming to be rooted in the wall like some kind of plant.

Jaccob approached what Kasper knew to be the Black Alter, clambering up a set of rough-hewn stairs that ran up one side and perched himself on it. Kasper, careful not to touch the alter, questioned Jaccob about it, and made what observations that he could.

Thelaspin, who had been unusually silent through the mines, grew excited at the site of the alter. He prattled on about primordial forces, extraplanar beings and enchanted objects, but could offer no solid clues as to the alter’s origins or its powers.

Kasper, feeling drained from the days exertions, asked Jaccob for a place to rest, away from the alter, where he might be safe. Jaccob led him down a nearby tunnel and Kasper made himself a place to sleep.

The rescue party that Ssibliss, Brandos and Tristan had attached themselves to, was busy combing the depths. They followed trails of blood and scuff marks in the dusty floors until they emerged in the chamber that housed the Black Alter.

There they found a macabre scene. A dwarven hostage was laying upon the alter, while a twisted and fearsome Tormented One ripped and clawed at him. The dwarves formed a line and began to advance while Rurik, Brandos and Ssibliss lept to attack the Tormented One.

Though they found the Tormented One a strong adversary they were able to defeat him. Gathering the injured dwarf they prepared to depart when more of the undead assaulted them, crawling down the walls, sneaking through the shadows and rushing strait at them. A general assault erupted with the rigid discipline of the dwarven shield wall proving to be the only defence against the waves of murderous Tormented Ones.

Kasper, who had awoken to the sounds of nearby combat attempted to return to the alter chamber. Jaccob interposed himself and using his enormous strength attempted to pull Kasper away. Kasper bent his will against that of Jaccob and managed to force the boy to let him go, but was unable to make him join him.

Alone, Kasper reached the chamber to see his companions and the dwarven fighters in a desperate battle against their foe. Kasper used his necromantic powers to raise one of the fallen dwarves as a skeleton (an act that was not well received by the dwarves) and then put his arcane powers to good use.

Together the party was able to make a fighting withdrawal from the chamber and down the tunnels. Once more, the discipline of the dwarves proved vital as their shield wall prevented anything from attacking their rear and prevented a route.

Kasper once more used illusions to hide their presence from several Tormented Ones and the party was able to make the relative safety of the dwarven encampment.

Chapter 6: Where Darkness Reigns
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