Chapter 8: Imtarumbar

 

Taurvantar turned to the others. "The bard's tale is quite grave, no pun intended. It now seems even more crucial that we find Ranciryan, lest we find him opposing us. We can hope that the power in the knife continues to impede the mistress of the house, although the goblin's work is testimony to the fact that she is not wholly dormant. It would seem that as the sun drops our peril may rise, but even more so for Ranciryan if he might still be saved."
He paused, scanning the party.
"I think we should try to make one sortie through the barred door to the spring, if we can find it, then return to this place of relative safety before the full of night is upon us. Ordain, perhaps your rune-learning can reawaken this Ironman and make him an ally, but even if not the other runes inscribed here at such a cost might serve us well. I would gather from the journal that these crystals contain healing powers, so in case imTar Almarion's minions do come to us we may make a good show of ourselves. Who is with me in an effort to go below for an hour or two?"
Fred stepped forward, thumping his small chest.
"I agree that we should make this sortie, in fact I think we should explore as much of the house as we can. It appears that it took Englorion a while to find the Spring, but it must be fairly close as he appears to have hardly been in a condition to move far. I would suggest leaving someone here with the baby, and maybe Pric. I however am all for going with you.
Maybe we can find the school-room as well. I would like to know more about Almarion, as she seems to be our only possible ally here."
At his point Taurvantar turned to the hobbit. "I think you mean Ellenya, whom I take to be the mute lady in blue. Taking the testament of the bard as warning, I think we'd be ill-advised to leave
anyone unattended in this house, particularly someone attempting to guard a helpless babe. Besides," Taurvantar added, a mirthless grin creasing his face, "if we encounter anything too dangerous to confront it might help to have a tidbit such as Pric to give to it as a distraction."
At his point, Eoras spoke up, adding his voice to the debate. "I am with you! Methinks there is some foul magic at work here with these weapons, though." Eoras pointed to the weapons lining the hall. "This blade I hefted," Eoras prodded a large runed broadsword with his boot, "seemed to be possessed, somehow, and it tried to possess me. I heard this voice saying that each weapon represented a life taken by its father...and then it tried to promise me wealth and power for continuing to take lives--starting with poor Fred here!" Eoras shuddered. "In any case, I would be willing to foray into the house to save Ranciryan from this loathsome fate."
At Eoras' words, Fred's face could be seen to visibly pale. "Great, what did I ever do to this stupid house? I think I will be careful with anything found in this accursed place. Maybe tomorrow if the
weather clears we should check out the Chapel...I assume it is the annex to the North-West of the manor."
Daern, who had remained long silent nodded his head and spoke, his words bring the party back to the main point. "I agree that we should make a quick foray to find Ranciryan and the spring. I know our chances are grim as Ordain has stated but I see no other
choice. I also think that we should not split up because if we're not strong enough together then we have no chance divided."
Kal, who had been kneeling next to Englorion's dry corpse, long gazing, rose to his feet, his eyes misty and far away.
"Ack! Poor bard,I think he deserved a better death. Anyway, I also think we must be even quicker now. It's clear that Rancyrian is
in danger! I think we must find where the spring is to
have a place safer than this at night, then hurry to find the way to
where Rancyrian fell.Surely this place is quite dangerous,so I suggest again not to split."
Kal turned to Daern, who was handing the infant back to Ordain. "Ah Daern if you want I can keep the baby. I don't think my help with the bow is much valuable."
Ordain, who had taken the baby seemed more than happy to give to Kal. "Thanks for taking interest in the child, Kal," the Dunedain said, handing the child over.
Kal certainly felt occupied, holding Pric's leash in one hand while cradling the infant in his other arm.
"Before we go, though," Ordain addressed the party, "there are a few things I would like to do first, if you all don't mind giving me some time."
"I agree," Taurvantar spoke up, "I too have a few things I would like to work on before we depart. Let's rest and eat a meal while Ordain and I attend to our affairs."
Everyone nodded their assent and set about to eat. (Everyone deduct 1 meal.) Kal set about dipping his finger in the goblin potion, after testing it on himself first. It's taste was acidy and bitter, but it did seem to fire his blood. Feeling he had no other choice, Kal gave some to the baby, dipping his finger in the brew and then inserting it into the young one's mouth. The baby cried at first, but then, as Kal's insistent finger brought more potion into its mouth, young Tarma took some of it in and then fell asleep.

Ordain proceeded, after taking some sheets of heavy paper and a quill pen out of his pack, to try and copy the ornate runes that Englorion had inscribed with his own blood on the doors and also those on the Ironman.

Turning to the others, Ordain announced, "One moment while I attempt to enjoin our armored ally to our effort."

Ordain tried to fathom some meaning out of the small runes inscribed on the rusted black armour. There were several, many of which seemed to be repeated here or there. As he touched one of the runes with his finger, it glowed and Ordain sagged, feeling weakened. (Lose 1 p.p. Since you don't have this from having cast warmth and other cantrips, Ordain has a power point deficit of 1 p.p. He will not be able to cast spells until he regains both the deficit power and what he has already spent. Appx. 2 days).

The darkness underneath the Ironman's visor glowed briefly.

Taurvantar, meanwhile had taken the opportunity to peek inside two of the northern doors that were closest to the eastern exit. Both doors appeared to open into the same room. It was large and seemed to be filled with assorted skins and animal heads that at once startled Taurvantar. Though they didn't seem to move, their glassy eyed gaze unnerved him and Taurvantar decided for the moment to close the door. Before doing so, he did notice that a desk stood in the far corner while on the opposite side of both doors appeared scratches and gouges in the wood, identical in fashion to the door the party had used to enter the hall in the first place. Taurvantar quietly closed both doors behind him. (Bonus of 150 x.p. to Taurvantar)

Taurvantar set about trying to fashion what looked like a booby trap, using weapons he had knocked or pulled with a noose off the wall, he struggled to fashion a crude deadfall across the door they had come through. Finally, frustrated with his lack of ability, Taurvantar stomped back to the rest of the group.

While the others ate Taurvantar, every busy searched the wooden wall behind Englorion's body. Using his fingers to feel the wood there, he found something which focused his interest. (Bonus of 50 x.p. to Taurvantar)
"Hey everyone! Look what I found." Saying this, he seemed to disappear. Tirion and the others rushed forward and pressing on the wood behind the bard's body, they caused part of it to pivot, revealing a secret door which exposed a room underneath the stairway. Inside, Taurvantar was discovered, a look of satisfaction on his face.
The room, however, turned out to be unremarkable. Several pegs were mounted into the walls of the room. It appeared to be some sort of storage place and the dust that Taurvantar disturbed told them it had been many many years since someone had made use of it. Further searching turned up nothing except more dust, so everyone retreated, grimed and unrewarded for the experience.
Ordain urged them on saying, "Time is short, we must move into the house further to try to find Ranciryan before nightfall."
"Well, that was fruitless," Taurvantar announced.. "I suggest we proceed."
Eoras hefted his sword, prepared to follow Taurvantar.
"Off to the Spring says I!" Fred cried out, and pulling out his chalk, proceed to mark the walls and doorways to show where they had come and gone.

Feeling a little drained, Ordain bent down to look at the crystal vials that Tirion had freed from Englorion's hand and pack. Ordain shook the vials and peered closely. The were coloured light blue, but beyond this, he could make nothing out save their colour. Gently, Ordain unstoppered the cork and poured some water into the vial. Shaking it gently, he could see that the crystals had dissolved into the water, which seemed to shine and scintillate with blue brilliance. Smelling the liquid, he was reminded something of a cross between vanilla and mint.

The party proceed out of the hallway, with Taurvantar leading them through the easternmost door. This turned out to lead to another hallway, this one only ten feet wide. Directly opposite them was another doorway. Except for light filtering through the grime in the window at the hallway's southern end, some fifteen mannish paces from where they stood, the hallway was cast into darkness. Members of the party began to fish around for means of lighting their way.
Looking southward, about ten paces down from the door they had entered was another door. Tirion ventured down and announced that it exited out onto the patio and that it seemed locked or jammed. Daern, feeling adventurous himself, opened the opposite door and stated that it led into what looked like a large pantry with other doorways leading out from it.
Deciding to reconnoiter before making any choices, the party proceeded north, opening doors as they went. Twenty paces north, on the western wall, they came upon another door. Eoras opened this easily, for it had no lock and swung easily, though loudly squeaking protest from unoiled hinges. Inside, they could see that this was another entrance into the broad feasting hall, which was now revealed to even more immense than they had first guessed. About seven paces to the north of this door was another companion, like itself leading into the feasting hall, which lay dark, cobwebs everywhere. Ten paces again north and the party came upon two sets of double doors, both sets facing each other. The set on the eastern wall opened easily, revealing a vast kitchen with clay ovens set like sentinels into the walls, with huge hearths, now empty and cold built alongside. Some of the hearths had huge black iron kettles suspended upon arms built into the walls of the hearths so that they could be swung over and out of the fire, while others sported large spits. Great tables dominated the center of the huge, partitioned room and under these on shelves were stacked countless pots and untensils. Cooking, butchering, rendering and such could all be done on a massive scale, and, judging by the foul smell of the place, some ancient meat still miraculously lay rotting over the centuries. Holding their noses, the party retreated from the scene.
The door opposite proved to be locked. Calling upon Fred, the party made way as the diminutive hobbit set to work upon the locks with great gusto, oiling and picking at them for some time. Finally, he packed up his tools.
"Done?" Daern asked him.
"Yep," Fred nodded, "I can't pick them."
"What?" the elf scoffed, "What kind of lock picker are you?"
"I'm an advanced apprentice," Fred replied, his feelings seemingly a little hurt.
"Ah, don't worry Fred, "Kal announced. "Here you go." Tucking the baby in his arm, Kal handed Pric to Tirion for the moment and made a motion of turning an invisible key. There was a click and Daern opened one of the doors.
It was cold inside, almost as freezing as it was outside, not that the rest of the house radiated anything more than freezing cold. A great mortared stone floor gently dropped before them, its slanting length filled with large casks and barrels. The largest casks, as big as a hobbit house, lined the sides of the room, which seemed to stretch out before them. Other, more normal sized barrels, where racked down the middle.
Seven paces north again along the western wall and the party came upon another set of double doors, these more ornate and cleverly carved. They too were locked, but Fred's talent met with more success (Fred earn 50 bonus x.p.) and when opened, revealed a wondrous hallway, thirty feet wide, and even longer then the great hallway with all the armour in it. Down the middle of the hallway ran a long frozen pond, ten feet wide with exquisite fountains that lay along its length. Arched alcoves to the sides held marble statues, covered with cobwebs along the side while coloured tiles and frescoes covered the walls. In the distance, other doors could be seen. All along the fountain ran a series of columns supporting a portico walkway for the second story above. In more livelier times, persons walking the portico could look down and watch the light play on the fountains and water. Everything was lit by light coming in from a glass ceiling. Above them, an angry blackening sky continued to hurl snow down at them, though little for some reason cluttered the glass above their heads.
Finally, turning again northward, the party met the dead end of the hallway in another locked door, fifteen paces from the last. Again, Fred was unsuccessful in trying to pick it and Kal was again forced to use his power. This door, it turned out, opened onto a vast courtyard, wind swept with snow. Heavy icicles lined the eaves all along its border.
The large courtyard, as large as a town square had it's entire western end lined by what looked like stalls and stables, which were built underneath rooms in the second story. On the opposite side of the courtyard were windows to other rooms, though only one door was seen on this side. To the east lay a wall with three entrances, all with barred gates, though the middle gate seemed wrecked by some force.

Fred thought he could hear the distant sound of horsehooves (50 bonus x.p.).

The party again closed the door, trying to decide which direction to explore next.

Ranciryan rested, looking about the doors. He went up to each one and putting his ear next to them, tried to make out any noise. On the two doors that faced the one, Ranciryon heard nothing. Trying them, he found them to be locked and, given their sturdy build, unlikely to allow him to progress any further. Putting his ear to the southern door, he made out a persistent moan, as if someone were in trouble.
Grasping his weapon firmly, Ranciryon opened the door. What he saw their made him freeze his motion. Past the door was a large room. In it's width and fullness was stacked the wreckage of man, human bodies, some mere skeletons all scattered about or propped against walls or stone benches. In the center of the room was a raised well of stone and propped upon this was a stone, a black stone that radiated a purplish phosphorescence. The bodies lay thickest about this stone. Indeed, the ones closest to it seemed propped as if in semblance of prayer to the stone. These were wearing armour, as if they were knights.
However, the thing that had so shocked the Numenorean was that almost all the bodies seemed to move, if only a bit. They writhed or contorted, or even just shuddered. Every now and then a moan would escape one of the tortured frames. Ranciryon was gazing at a host of undead and they stirred as if just waking from a nightmarish hell.
Finding a strength he did not know he had, Ranciryon carefully shut the door. Stumbling onward, weary and shocked, he would his way through the twisted hallway until it deadended into another door. It wasn't locked and going through, he found himself in a long narrow hallway with him at one end. Travelling upward, He came upon a door to his right. It was locked, but a peephole in it allowed him to gaze into the room, but all was black for lack of light. At the far end of the hall was another door. Ranciryon paused, gathering strength and deciding what direction to take now.

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