Saltmarsh Journal

Journals for the Saltmarsh RPG Campaign

Bureaucracy 101

August 8th, 2013

OK. Your reading through of the ageing prisoner records in the 3rd office (fortunately they are on good quality parchment, shows interestingly that in the 3 years before the records abruptly cease there were only 5 prisoners transferred here who were in the ‘Most Dangerous’ category and who hadn’t been executed by the time the records end. They are (and the notes that go with them are):
Sefick Corvin (blasphemy – not dangerous – upper cells) second longest serving of the most serious inmates
Vance Saetressle (Oubliette) Awaiting Execution – he is the most recent to arrive of the 5
Ispin Onyxcudgel (a trollish name if ever there was one) (Oubliette) Awaiting Execution
The Piper (Reaper’s Hold) Awaiting Execution
Hean Feramin (Nevermore) Awaiting Execution – he has been here longest and you find a number of copies of correspondence asking why his execution order has not come through.

Why you should tidy your room

August 8th, 2013

We are in the room with the ghosty lady.
Rufus suggests exploring the remaining rooms in this section of the prison.
The narrow room looks like it was a chapel. The door has fallen off and the room is covered in gossamer threads of what we assume are cobwebs.
The large room opposite is a shambles. Rusty chains and bits of rotten rope lie on the floor. Rufus hears a faint wailing and clanking of chains. He also feels a sense of despair.
Time for the Spirit Speaker! As we ponder, a set of manacles start to clank and then rise from the floor and fly at Nailen. He slams the door shut.
We go to the next room – it’s a laundry. Nailen spots something wriggling within a pile of clothes. Rufus gets no connection with the Spirit Speaker. A strait jacket rises up and attacks Nailen. He gets a hit on it with his sword. It hits him back and he falls to the floor. It grabs his leg and starts to climb up him. Olsen grabs the jackets and carefully hacks it with his dagger. The strait jacket squeezes Nailen into unconsciousness. Olsen and Mahan slice it with their daggers and eventually it becomes scraps of cloth. Nailen is in his fugue state.
Looking at our sketch map we notice the ideal place to make another ‘Peter’ door – Nailen is taken to the ‘Nice office’ to recover.
Meanwhile Rufus attempts to use the Spirit Speaker in the cold spot, but to no avail. The three awake adventurers take a look outside the main door at check for runes or symbols around the foundations. It doesn’t take long to spot that the weeds and creepers have been moved aside. There are sinuous carvings that have been smeared in a reddy brown substance – blood!!!
Rufus is unable to read them so he copies them down in the hope that one of the priests can decipher them. The carvings go all round the building, on the way round Rufus finds the cess pit. Despite the prison being unused for a hundred years the pit is not dry and still smells of poop! Poopala doopala.
The consensus is turning to heading back to town and to discuss the runes with Halventrom and perhaps the priests.
Halvenstrom can’t read the runes and doubt that anyone in the town would be able to.
We discuss a plan to stake out the statue and see if someone comes to deface it. There are low bushes nearby so we should be able to hide out…
We don’t see anyone and head home in the morning. News filters through that the front of the town hall was daubed with ‘VES’

Tea with the vicar

August 8th, 2013

We are outside the prison.
Nailen decides we should go back to town for lunch at the inn. Then we go to the temple of Hellim, and chat to the priest. He mentions that settling spirits can depend on what they are upset about. Nailen mentions the spirit speaker so we go to get it.
We return and chat further with Argen. We show him the mahogany box. He recognises it and explains a bit more about it. The flasks are spirit jars – open the jar and the spirit will be sucked in. The Spirit Speaker allows us to speak with spirits – hold the handles and focus. Rufus reveals one of the rods – Argen says it’s a Hellimnistic artefact.
Nailen is persuaded to become an initiate of Hellim. Partly due to the possibility of gaining some spells. And partly because it might encourage Argen to help us.
Nailen, Rufus and Mahan put themselves forward, but only Nailen is accepted – clearly due to his innate politeness, and superior jazz hand moves.
Nailen agrees to return for magic lessons the next morning.

The next day Rufus asks to join the Zalatuns…and gets pretty rapidly turned down.

Nailen learns the spell ‘Spirit Sight’ – it allows him to see people’s auras and those of spirits.

The next day we head back up to the prison, early doors. But we have a stout breakfast first. As we look back down to the town we see some sort of commotion around the statue. We reach the main doors. There is no joy with the spirit speaker in the main hall, or in the cold spot or with the skulls in the training room.
We decide to try the Ember Maw furnace. Rufus manages to get a connection using the spirit speaker – there is an overwhelming feeling of being burnt alive.
Nailen steps in front of the furnace with one of the spirit jars. It glows and heats up – he opens the jar and something is captured. The furnace stays hot and so Rufus uses one of the rods to dispel the spirit – it works but his arms are burnt. Nailen first aids.

We decide to go back to speak to Argen – following some discussion we conclude that there may be remains in the furnace. If we remove them from the furnace and bring them to him he can attempt a funeral ceremony which may put them at rest.
He also suggests that Sheriff Caeller would know what’s going on with the statue.
We pop into our favourite boozer, and it appears someone has defaced the statue and we are prime suspects. Some letters were painted on in blood – VE apparently. Rufus pops to see the apothecary bird and asks about burn salves. However, the sheriff is in there, so we turn around and head back up to the prison.

In the furnace room, we check it for ashes. There are lots of them so we go to the cupboard under the stairs to get brooms and mops. Nailen sweeps out the ashes. Olsen sifts through them and finds some ribs, finger bones and parts of skulls. These bones are hot to the touch. He puts them in a bag and after a while it starts to smoulder. We get a leather bucket, dampen it and put the bones in there. Time to head back to Argen. He suggests chucking the bones in the river. Disappointed with this suggestion we go to see the Zalatonites. They are pretty unhelpful.

We return to the Halvenstrom residence. Halvenstrom repeats the suggestion to use the river to cool the bones. Nailen drives a stake into the riverbed and ties the bucket to it. After a few hours the bones are cooled. Olsen releases them into the river and Nailen says a prayer to Hellim.

The next morning we head back to the prison yet again. Rufus wants to explore the ‘peaceful’ office room – there seems to be a spiritual void. Rufus does a very careful search for wards or glyphs that might indicate the absence. He doesn’t find anything. We decide to explore some more corridors…

We find a room with a desk, a bench and a tipped brazier with two branding irons. The irons start to glow. The Spirit Speaker gives the impression of many souls crying out in anguish. One of the irons flies at Nailen. We debate options on how to combat it… In the meantime we move on to the next room.
It’s appears to be a large tailoring workshop. As we enter the ghostly form of a woman rises. Nailen manages to speak with her – she is the wife of the warden. She cannot rest until she finds her husband. He was in the cellar, but men in robes have removed him and now the prisoners are rising.
The guards locked her in this room, and they set fire to the lift shaft to prevent the prisoners escaping.
There are 5 spirits in the dungeon who are gnawing at her soul. Destroy those spirits and she can regain control of the rest. Or, return her husband’s badge of office and return it to her.

Shouldn’t there be background music?

July 1st, 2013

The big room we are in was probably a training room for the guards. There’s a shaft in the floor with black scorch marks.
As Mahan approaches the shaft we hear a screaming. From the shaft emerge three flaming skulls. They charge at Olsen, Mahan and Rufus. It’s fight time!
Olsen suffers nasty burns to his arm. Nailen takes a hit too. His bracer heals him and he passes out again.
The others investigate the shaft. There’s water about 25 feet down. Someone spots a door on the far wall. They go through the door, leaving Nailen on the floor near the shaft.
Through the door is another room, the far wall is burnt away and the pond has ingressed. Mahan again suggests going back to town for a spot of lunch.
Mahan carries Nailen and the group head back to the Halvenstrom residence. Olsen dons the other healing ring. His arm instantly feels better, and he doesn’t pass out.
We head out to the pub but there is no news. Nothing much is going on so we go home and go to bed.
Next morning we head back up to the prison. We try the door off the stage but can’t open it. So we try the double doors off the main hall.
We find another corridor, then some stairs down that appear to have been blocked by a rockfall resulting from a trap. The next door reveals stairs going up. Then we find the cupboard under the stairs – buckets and mops etc. The door opposite opens into a corridor that links with the one to the south. Fascinating stuff, I trust you’ll agree!
The decor suggests it was the infirmary. We go in for a rummage. As we enter a ghostly skeleton appears. Mahan and Nailen are scared and run away like big babies. A whirlwind surrounds the skeleton and it starts to pick up items and fling them about. Olsen and Rufus elect to retreat. Rufus and Olsen are both hit by missiles. We all make it to the hall.
We head through the cold spot room. Through the training room and into the partially collapsed room. It contains a furnace with a plaque over the top saying ‘Ember Maw’. As we pass it a tongue of fire whips out and lashes Olsen. We rush for the far door and enter the Infirmary again. Nailen closes the double doors that the skeleton exited from. We exit and rush for the entrance hall and head outside. It all seems quiet inside.

If it hadn’t been for those darned kids

June 5th, 2013

Olsen readies his bow as we ascend the stairs up to the tower. He releases an arrow…it hits a rat. It squeaks and runs back into the tower. We hurry up the stairs, two steps at a time. Six rats leap out at Nailen and Olsen. Nailen slices into one and it flies over the wall. Four others leap at him and bite.

Nailen and Olsen are pretty heroic and kill some rats, however more and more stream down the steps. Nailen calls for a retreat. The rats don’t follow us down. Nailen dons one of the bracers of healing. His wounds magically heal, but the magic power seems to drain something out of him – the colour drains from his face and he falls to the floor in a heroic faint.

Mahan stops fannying about at the back and shoots a flaming arrow into the tower. It vanishes and does chuff all. He fires another. Olsen tends to the fallen hero.

Mahan imagines the voice of Nailen saying not to bother going up to the tower, maybe focus on the gaol instead.

The party pass beneath a rickety balcony and enter through a pair of doors, which hang off the frames. A semi-circular room – doors opposite with alcoves to either side. They contain rotten furniture. It’s a foyer. The doors are stiff, but Mahan kicks them open. A hall is beyond with several doors inc. 2 sets of double.

The door to the left open onto a long, darkish corridor. Several doors line the right, a single window on the left.

Suddenly, the other doors in the hall burst open, 8 or so disembodied heads fly out, circle the room and then exit. The doors slam shut behind them. It now turns out that Olsen and the unconscious Nailen are still in the hall and Mahan and Rufus are in the foyer. The double doors seems solidly closed. Rufus hits on the idea of hacking a hole in the wall instead! Olsen and Nailen exit and Rufus enters. He quickly opens another door and closes it again. He gets a chance to see a large room with a row of iron bars. Soon after the doors all burst open and the heads reappear. They exhibit signs of burns and are spectral rather than corporeal.

Everyone exits the building and brews up in the grounds. While waiting for the kettle to boil, Rufus tries to look in through the windows. There’s some more fannying around. Nailen has been left outside while Mahan and Olsen go back into the hall and open the door that Rufus looked through earlier. They hold it open this time and take a closer look. The room seems to have benches and a stage. Then the other doors open, the heads reappear and whirl round, then leave and all the doors slam shut again.

Rufus searches the house for a large piece of wood. While he is doing so, Nailen wakes up. Hurrah, they all cry! The new plan is for Rufus to open the door that causes the ghostly heads to appear. When the doors open, Mahan and Olsen slip through into the first corridor discovered. The first room seems to be an office. All the other rooms seem to be offices too. There don’t seem to be any spell scrolls or gold pieces present. What a let down!

Nailen asks Rufus to give him back the bracer of healing, and he puts it back on.

The room at the end of the corridor has a lighter feeling, less oppressive, more light. It has a safe, but we are unable to pick the lock. We return to the hall. After some testing, we have sussed the door locking issue – need to wait a couple of minutes, and the doors will always open to allow us back into the hall.

We enter the ‘Audience’ room – Olsen comments that the middle of the room is notably colder – painfully so. We pass through the double doors on the other side into a large room. It’s bright due to a large hole in the roof on the far side. We can see the ‘pond’. There is also a big hole in the floor…

Much ado about nothing

June 5th, 2013

We come to the conclusion that there is nothing else to do but go up to the gaol. We decide to go up there at dawn.

Rosy fingered dawn reaches through the mists.. We follow the path out of town, up the hill to Harrowstone.

There is a central building and then grounds surrounded by a crumbling stone wall. One end seems to have collapsed into a sink hole in the ground. There is no bird life to speak of, simply an eerie silence. The sinkhole is full of water – it’s been here a while, reeds and cat-tails are growing.

We walk through the gateway, the gate sags off the gateposts. The place is looking in a pretty sorry state. As Mahan passes through the gate he gets a feeling of being trapped and on fire. But he mans up and ignores it. There’s a small house off to the left – we go take a look at it. The roof sags, plaster has fallen off the ceiling… It looks shitty and abandoned. Mahan explores and nearly falls through the floor – he is hit by some falling plaster.

We exit the cottage and go to look at some towers in the curtain wall. As we approach the tower we see a couple of MASSIVE rats run along the walkway at the top of the wall.

Not exactly Lara Croft

May 8th, 2013

On the way to the wake Mahan starts to chat with Master Grimburrow, and attempts to convince him that we have been sent by Tyrwhitt, the priest of Zalatun at Itea. He is not convinced…

At the wake, Nailen attempts to re-open discussions with Grimburrow, to no avail. We have a brief discussion amongst ourselves and agree to listen in to other conversations to see if we can pick up clues.. We aren’t getting anywhere.

We decide to wait for night fall and attempt to find the false crypt in the cemetery.

Time passes…

Time passes…

Dusk falls. We prepare to advance on the cemetery, as luck would have it, there’s plenty of moonlight. We leave the Halvenstromm house and sneak to the cemetery. He shin over the walls and orient ourselves. As we slowly creep through the cemetery we all get an unnerving feeling of being watched. We get to the junction that Petros mentioned and there is one mausoleum here, the rest are simple graves. The mausoleum has a pair of stone doors fastened with a padlock. Olsen approaches to investigate, and beckons Nailen to accompany him. Mahan and Rufus keep watch for Brookies and Mr Bronson.

Nailen fiddles with the lock and quickly realises that it’s been burnt away with acid and just left to look like it’s locking. It must have been done recently as there is no rust on the padlock. The door swings inwards… The Scooby Doo incidental music starts to play. It smells musty and earthy.

We light the lantern and Rufus, Olsen and Nailen slowly descend.
The steps only descend about four feet into a large room, we judge that it fills the mausoleum. There are around 20 niches around the room – 4 sets of 5. Between the columns of niches are 2 statues of an armoured man. One on each side of the chamber.

The niches appear to be empty. We check them, and they are all empty. The statues are definitely made of a single piece of stone – they don’t look likely to come alive.

We stop to look at the dust on floor and spot some tracks that lead to the back corner – we find a secret door. It opens into a corridor along the back of the mausoleum and there are more steps leading further down. We gird our loins and then descend. These steps open into another chamber, bigger than the previous one. There is a semi-circular dais with a stone sarcophagus on it. Otherwise it is empty.

We enter the chamber, and approach the sarcophagus. There is some engraving on the top, however, we can’t read it. But Rufus thinks it is Old Lordling – he notes it down for later translation.

Nailen and Olsen push on the lid and manage to open it quite easily – metal runnners will do that. Within are several cloth wrapped bundles. We make like Christmas.

The first 4 bundles are similar – 1st one is a quiver of 12 arrows, 2nd is a quiver of 10 arrows with red fletching, 3rd is a quiver of 5 white fletched arrows. 4th is a quiver of 2 black fletched arrows.

The next bundle contains 4 2ft long rods, with gold heels. They all look the same.

The next bundle has 6 crystal flasks with clear, colourless liquid.

The next bundle has 5 flasks – clear pale blue liquid.

The next bundle has 2 flasks – opaque dark blue liquid with a sparkly silver sediment.

The next bundle has a leather cylindrical case – contains several sheets of parchment. Rufus examines them.

Underneath all of the bundles is a mahogany brass bound case. It contains some kind of instrument. On each side are 5 holes, 6 are empty, 4 contain some kind of crystal flask with silver ends. Within the flasks are some kind of silvery vapour.

We shut the sarcophagus and the secret door and return back to Mahan. On the way back into the first chamber, a creature drops onto Rufus and bites him on the neck! He falls to the floor.

Nailen, the bane of centipedes everywhere, kills it. Another appears and leaps at Nailen but he skillfully deflects it with his dagger. Olsen strikes a puny blow on it before Nailen kicks centipede butt! He really is a hero!

Olsen goes to get Mahan and we make our excuses and leave the mausoleum. Nailen attempts to dress the door as it was when we arrived. We get back to Kendra’s house. She makes us some cocoa when we get in.

Eastward Ho!

May 7th, 2013

The rolling land stretches out before us… Our road keeps to the foot of the moors. The land is more settled outlying farms, villages with no palisades. We are stared at by passers-by – seems they are not used to seeing armed men on the roads. We are approaching civilisation!!

We stop at a reasonable sized village – we can tell it’s posh round here, no ones got shit on ’em! There’s even a choice of inns. Halventromm mentions that tomorrow we will leave the main road to leave for Harrowstone. At the mention of that name, a hush falls across the room. Mahan eyes up the buxom bar wench. He orders a round of ale and then asks her about the reputation of Ravenshill.

She is surprised that we haven’t heard of Harrowstone prison – a high security prison, scene of torture and execution until a terrible fire that killed many of the inhabitants. It’s now considered to be haunted. Harrowstone is a thriving village, but populated by weirdos…

The next morning, we take the side road and head up onto the moors. We reach a village come mid-afternoon – Halvenstrom thinks that this is Ravenshill. It sits on a river and has two bridges. At a fork in the road at the edge of town is a post with bits of paper nailed to it. It seems to have job ads, notices, advertising etc.

Further up the road is a circular town square. This town seems well equipped with traders. Forge, apothecary, inn, temple to Helim etc. We go to pray to Helim and make a donation, then head to the inn.

We speak to the matronly barmaid. Petros Halventrom is the person we seek, but sadly he died two days ago. He was crushed by falling masonry up at the old prison. His daughter, Kendra, found him. His house is back down the road we came in on, and we will find her there.

It seems he was not popular in the town, many were scared of him. It’s claimed he was a necromancer – raising spirits of the undead. He always denied these claims. Kendra is fairly private, but is popular with some of the young lads. No mother came with them to the village when they moved here.

We head to the house with the red shutters. It’s reasonable sized with a lovely vegetable patch behind the house, and partially coming round to the side of the house. We also spot some men in nice red uniforms hiding behind the coal shed. We go and knock on the door. A tall young lady of medium attractiveness opens the door. She recognises Uncle Actos, surprised that we got here so soon as she only sent the letter yesterday. He explains he’s already received one from Petros.

Apparently there were strange goings on at night at the prison and Petros was investigating. We go to look in the study to see if there are any clues. After just a few minutes looking we find a journal. The final entry reads:
Tomorrow evening I return to the prison. It is imperative the Way does not finish. My caution has already cost me too much time. I am not sure what will happen if I am too late, but if my theory is right, the whole town could be at risk.

The previous day reads:
I see now how ill-prepared I was when I last set out for the Harrowstone. I am lucky to have returned at all. The ghosts, if indeed they were ghosts (for I did not find it prudent to investigate further) prevented me from transcribing the strange symbols I found etched along the foundation – hopefully on my next visit I will be more prepared. Thankfully, the necessary tools to defend against spirits are already here in Ravenshill. I know that the temple of Zalatun used to store them in a false crypt in the Restlands at the junction of Eversleep and the Black Path. I am not certain if the current clergy even know what their predecessors have hidden down below. If my luck holds I should be able to slip in and out with a few borrowed items without them knowing.

A few days before that is another entry referring to ‘The Way’ and seeking a list of all who died in the fire.
It is confirmed. The Way seem quite interested in something, no strike that, someone who was held in Harrowstone. But who, specifically, is the Way after? I need a list of everyone who died the night of the fire. Everyone. The temple of Zalatun must have such a list. Or the temple of Helim a list of the prisoners.

Another 10 days previous, refers to The Way again:
Whatever the Way seeks, I am now convinced their goal is connected to Harrowstone. In retrospect, I suppose it all makes sense – the stories they tell about the ruins in town are certainly chilling enough. It may be time to investigate the ruins, but with everyone in town already so scared of them, I would rather not let others know about my curiosity – there are plenty of folks who already think I am a demonologist or necromancer or something – the ignorant fools. Typical country bumpkins.

Another month before – The Way is interested in something here in Ravenshill, but what could it be:
It is as I feared. The Way is interested in something here in Ravenshill. But what?

Rufus finally comes across an entry from several years ago, that is circled in red:
The Whispering Way is more than a cabal of necromancers. Undeath is their fountain of youth. Their desire for imortlity makes them more dangerous.

We stay in the house and the funeral of Petros is tomorrow. That will take us to the cemetery.

The next morning, we attend the funeral and Kendra asks us to be pallbearers. We go to the temple of Zaloton to collect the coffin. Things turn a bit nasty in the cemetery – some local lads try to stop the funeral. Nailen tries to talk to them – one pushes him over. When he gets back up another swings at him with a club but misses. Nailen punches him and tries to intimidate them into backing down. It fails and 4 of them advance menacingly. Nailen draws sword and dagger, and they lose their nerve and back away. Kendra thanks us for averting an ugly fight. We pick the coffin back up and continue on to the grave. There is a small gathering of locals, a brief service and the coffin is lowered.

The notable locals are Vashian Halfmount – head of the council, Garren Muricar – another, younger member of the council, Zirkar Elkarid and his son – tavern keeper (not the one we went to) and Jarminda FallenBridge – apothecary. And of course the priest who was with us – Master Grimburrow.

We quiz Grimburrow on the names of the paths in the cemetery – this will allow us to find the crypt mentioned in Petros’ journal.

A little R&R, and a strange old man in a tavern

April 26th, 2013

After a few days rest, all are recovered.

Aged, yet virile, Clavados debriefs us – he is the Lord High Bailiff of Itea. He also introduces us to a chap called Rupert, black armour, well armed. He recognises us – he is the chap we encountered in the marsh. He is disdainful of us and our poor judgement. They then ask us for a sketch map of the temple.

During our rest time we feel our skills improving, and Nailen speaks to the armourer about what the dashing rogue about town is wearing this season. He finds a particularly sexy ring mail jerkin. The chicks will dig it! Mahan is a big smelly copycat and takes one too.

During one of our chats with Clavados a trumpet fanfare sounds, and we all exit to the courtyard. Turns out it is Lord Uther. The situation has changed – Doc Halvenstrom has to leave to meet his brother, so Uther traveled here with him and brought Rosalind. He goes to freshen up and we will explain the adventures over dinner.

While waiting, Doc Halvenstrom asks what happened at Ashwell. He is concerned by our story.

We enter the dining hall…and explain again what we saw and found. Another character, Calunas, the head librarian exclaims that he has read of the skeletons of Shandar. They are a standard temple guardian – class 1.

Uther says he will return to Dragonsfall and question Athangild further. Meanwhile, he asks that we accompany Doc Halvenstrom to Harrowstone – the road can be dangerous, and the town itself is definitely dangerous.

The next morning, we prepare to depart. We are lent some horses and some pack horses to carry food. We leave the marsh behind and eventually rise up into the hills. Towards evening we make it to the market village that was our goal. We get rooms in the Wonky Donkey inn. The night passes without incident. The innkeeper has warned that the days journey will be more dangerous – in the morning we will pass through the Plains of Low Risk, in the afternoon we will enter the Forest of Certain Danger, preceded by the Glade of Mild Peril. We will have to reach the far side before dark.

We reach a stream and a bridge – an encounter is expected. Mahan wonders if a white stag will appear. It doesn’t and we ford the stream. The forest is even darker on the other side, and colder…

We catch a glimpse of something off to the left. Possibly it was a barrow. However, we elect to continue. Night falls so we prepare a camp for the night. Watch order is Rufus, Olsen, Mahan, Nailen.

Olsen noticed during his watch that a light had appeared off to the left. During Mahan’s watch, he kept the fire going and claims he can hear music. At watch switch over, Nailen confirms that he can hear it too. It starts snowing again during my watch and it is starting to settle. We cook breakfast and then ride on. After a few hours we notice that the snow lessens and it isn’t so cold. A few miles further and the snow is all gone. Sometime later we reach another stream. After fording it, we find it feels as warm as before we forded the previous stream. Mahan now starts muttering about a White Witch… We reach the far side of the forest. There is a sense that we dodged a bullet back there – possibly the gods were trying to tempt us from our path. For better or worse? We’ll probably never know.

Lost… and found

April 22nd, 2013

We leave the pillared room and head back to the tower. Olsen leads the way…

The ladder that we came down has gone. We move furniture around in order to be able to climb up. Olsen clambers up and is instantly assailed with two javelins. They both bounce off his helmet. He advances and engages. Nailen attempts to scramble up to help his friend. They both slip over on oily straw. The lizardmen then lob torches and set light to the oil further up the corridor. We retreat back, close the door into the room and descend.

We make our way to the balcony over the watery room. Olsen climbs heroically down the rungs to check how deep the water is. He takes his armour off so that he won’t sink… The water is knee deep! And the bottom is solid.

We descend and start to wade out. There is a step into slightly deeper water, but Olsen still manages to keep his balance. Another step comes a bit later. We head towards the side of the room and it gets shallower again. At the main exit we discover that the step we were walking along ends. Olsen strips off his armour, planning to swim out, while Rufus heads back to get a bench.

Olsen discovers that the water is only about 5′ deep. He wades and swims his way out, occasionally dipping below the surface. He finds the punt and returns with it. We load Salmer onto the punt and pole across the chamber, calling to Rufus. We get no response and so Nailen and Olsen climb back up the rungs.

There’s no noise coming from the room. One of the tables has been moved. Beside it is a guttering torch and Rufus’ helmet.

We scout about and eventually notice a glow from the skull chamber. Rufus is lying on the altar, wearing a crown, pectoral and armband/manacles. Nailen and Olsen attempt to grab Rufus. Nailen is overcome by violent images and cannot contribute. Olsen is more heroic and manages to rescue Rufus. We make it back to the punt and escape.

We punt through the night, and when dawn breaks we realise that we are lost! We can see a collection of buildings, including a tower surrounded by a stone wall to the north east. We aim for it and get there approx 20 mins later. We are tired and hungry. Rufus and Salmer are still unconscious…

There’s a landing stage, so we land. Above the gatehouse is a black flag with a white skull on it. Nailen recognises it as being the same symbol as was on the black knight who we rescued Helena from.

As we finish tying up the punt, we see a tall man. He greets us and Nailen explains our plight. He introduces himself as Clavados and welcomes us as Thanes of Lord Uther and invites us inside. We go through an outer courtyard into an inner courtyard. A low octagonal tower dominates this area. He facade of a temple is to one side, a taller tower to the other. He takes us into none of these, but into some somewhat cold, bare rooms. A servant appears to light a fire and attend to the wounded.

Clavados re-appears, with another man in black robes, but shorter and plumper. Clavados introduces him as Tyrwhitt, a priest of Zalatun and one of the three Lords Spiritual of Itea.

We explain to them about what we found below Ashwell tower – it’s a useful discussion.

We take Salmer and Rufus to the temple.