Three Rings of Evil: A Tale of Mystara

The Final Hours


The group followed Jael back through the Sea King’s rooms. They eventually came to the double doors in what was once the king’s study. Jael and Ariston approached the double doors to the west and Kyri was right behind them.

Ariston quietly opened the doors and listened. For a second, there was nothing then there was the distinct sound of footsteps both from the north and the south. The Forestor looked at the Bard quizzically. She shrugged then squinted into the darkness, carefully standing in the doorway. In the shadows, she could see nothing. But the footsteps stopped.

A loud and deep yell from the north caused Jael to flinch. It was quickly followed by a higher pitched scream from the south.

“Let me take a look,” whispered Kyri. She stepped in front of Ariston without stepping into the hall. A quick peek and she saw the heat of large humanoids to the north and a group of smaller ones to the south.

YAAARGGGHHHHH!!!!” The deep yell came again from the group to the north and was answered by the group to the south.

Kyri backed up. “Let’s close the door,” she whispered.

A voice from the north demanded something in a language most could not understand. Kyri and Chae knew it to be Orc: “This is our section of the manor! Leave now.”

Kyri whispered as loud as she could, “Close the door!”

A large pole flew past the door, headed north. A shout was heard from the northern group then running footsteps from both directions. Kyri pushed Ariston and Jael out of the way, “I said close the door!” she shouted. She slammed the door shut as the two groups clashed together outside of them.

“Now what?” said Syndylys.

Jael was back to her senses. “I will sneak around and see if I can see how many of them there are. We will only have to fight the winners and they will be weak.” She headed towards the southern door and quietly slipped through it before anyone could stop her. Syndylys went and listened behind her.

Flavius and Jonathan listened at the double doors. A large battle was obviously developing. Cursing in Orc and Goblin could be heard as well as the cries of the wounded and the grunts of the straining warriors.

Jael slipped back in. "Some of the Goblins slipped into a side room. They are all still fighting but I cannot see much in the darkness.

The party listened to the fight. Finally, they heard a high pitched yell and footsteps ran off to the north. The group waited for a few minutes then moved to the door. Opening it carefully, they were confronted by the battle’s gruesome results. The bodies of several Orcs and Goblins lay scattered. None were moving.

Jael and Ariston moved to the door opposite them. They could hear arguing in an unknown language. Gathering together, the group bashed the door down and charged in. In the far corner, three Goblins were faced away, arguing with someone or something they could not see. The Goblins were surprised, turning towards the sound of the bashed in door. Quickly, the adventurers surrounded the little beasts and attacked. The first two were quickly and bloodily dispatched. The third put up his hands and prayed for quarter. Jael was not swayed and swung at him but he deftly moved out of the way of her sword. Flavius stood next to him to protect the creature. No one knew Goblin but they could tell he was fearful.

“What do we have here?” said Jael. She had spotted a Halfling, bound and sitting on the floor. She temporarily forgot the cowering Goblin. “Hello, sir. You are safer now. Let me get those bonds off of you.” She moved to release him and as she unbound him, Chae and Kyri used the rope and rags to bind the Goblin.

“He’s so small,” whispered Chae to Kyri. She did not acknowledge his comment but Chronos nodded.

“I may be small but if you would give me a sword, I can show you how it is used.” The Halfling rubbed his wrists as he stood.

“That’s not necessary. I am Chae and I seem to remember you from the ship. There was only one Halfling that I saw.”

“Halfling is impolite,” said Jael. “They are the Hin.”

“Oh, sorry little guy.” Chae looked around to see if there was anyone to heal. He didn’t hear the Hin say he was quite comfortable with Halfling, Hobbit or Hin.

“Well, I thank you for saving me. They kept asking something but since I don’t speak Goblin, I had no idea what it was. They dragged me here but I am not exactly why. By the way, I am Orin Hornblower Took. I have an odd question. Does anyone happen to have any tobacco?”

The group stared at the little man but no one had found any tobacco. The Halfling shrugged. “Never hurts to ask. I don’t have a pipe either so I guess I had just better make due.”

Syndylys stepped forward and continued the introductions begun by Chae. He also described their predicament and need to get off the island as soon as possible. “Sounds like we have tarried long enough. However, one thing I did catch was that the Goblins were looking for a stick. Something that shook when it was pointed. Not sure what that would be.”

“Oh yes,” said Keestake. “The queen’s funny treasure stick.”

“Keestake. Is this the queen’s quarters?” Syndylys looked at the old man.

“Yes, these be the rooms of herself, the Queen.”

“Everyone, look for the wand.” The mage began shuffling through the broken furniture on the floor. The rest of the group followed suit except Jael. She had walked behind the bound Goblin. “I cannot have you watching us,” she said. In one smooth motion, she struck the creature with the pommel of her sword. He crumbled, unconscious, to the floor.

“Is this the stick you are seeking?” Orin held up a gnarled piece of wood, about twelve inches long and slightly tapered. The type of wood was hard to distinguish. It was covered with some grime.

“That looks to be it,” said Syndylys. “Please carefully hand it to me.” He took it from the Halfling and cradled the stick in his hands. He held it out to judge its weight then tried to clean off some of the dirt and grime. He then stuck the stick into his rag belt.

“Well now that the wizard has found the wand, we need to focus on getting out of here.” Ariston looked around at his comrades. They all agreed so they gathered what things of value they found on the Goblins (one had a little pouch with a few plens (Minrothad copper pieces)). Chae carefully collected all of the belts and buckles he could find. The Hin looked at him oddly but said nothing.

Lining up in their traditional marching order, the adventurers headed out. Not knowing how long it had been since they had entered the manor (the dark clouds outside hid the true time of day), they were concerned over the goddess’s deadline. They decided to skip rooms rather than explore further.

While creeping down the hallway, Keestake kept mumbling to himself. It was hard to make out so most of them paid him no mind. He was quiet enough and they figured that fifty years on an island by yourself probably took its toll on one’s mind. Melisana, however, turned to Keestake. “Are you okay? Your voice keeps changing while you are mumbling.”

The old man stared at her for more than a few seconds. He then shook his head and giggled. Melisana shrugged and looked at Ariston. He shrugged too. The group kept walking.

Following Keestake’s map, the group briefly stopped at the chapel. It was amazingly untouched though dusty. Benches were gathered in the center of the room, facing an altar. A statute of Diulanna stood behind the altar and the walls were painted with scenes from her liturgy. Nothing of value was found.

The group next stopped at the kitchen. Someone had the idea that perhaps there would be food available. Unfortunately, fifty years of neglect did not leave anything edible. The adventurers kept following Keestake’s map and headed for the room which contained the hidden entrance to the catacombs.

Listening at the door to the scribe’s room, the characters heard nothing. They boldly strode inside and found it filled with the remains of two broken desks, numerous broken chairs and shelving units which featured small trays filled with mold and scraps of paper. The shelves stretched almost to the ceiling.

Keestake closed the door to the room. “It was here that the scribes kept the paperwork for himself. Always busy they were.” He walked to the north bookshelf and pointed to the top. “All you have to do is push the big button on top. The goblins were too teensy to ever see it.”

The characters could not see it either but Chae said he could climb to it. Indeed, on top of the bookcase was a round button, about two inches in diameter. He hesitated for an instant, looking around for traps. Then with his thumb, he pressed the button. Nothing happened. He pressed harder and it sunk perhaps a quarter inch deeper. Again nothing happened. “Now what?” he called down from on top.

Everyone looked at Keestake. He shrugged. “It always worked in the past. . . .”

Looking around for a few minutes, the group saw nothing that appeared to help. Kyri began inspecting the bookshelf. “I think we can pry it off the wall. It looks heavy though.”

Everyone gathered around and decided that that was their only option. The used the pieces of broken desks and chairs as levers and started to pull the shelf off the wall. As it came loose, a large grinding noise almost deafened them. The top of the rack began to teeter. “Look out!” yelled Chae and the group jumped away. As if in slow motion the bookcase began to fall.


It fell with an earsplitting boom that shook the walls and floor. Dust, dirt, scraps of moldy paper and splinters of bookshelf flew everywhere and covered the adventurers. Syndylys stifled a cough.

“Well, that seems to have worked,” said the mage. He caught himself trying to clean himself with a cantrip but realized that he did not have it memorized.

A dark shaft, three feet wide went down into darkness. The shaft was lined bricks and small, somewhat rusted steel rungs (like staples) led down the shaft. A single torch in a bracket on the wall hung above the hole.

“Do we have any light?” asked Orin.

“None. Nor do we have flint,” responded Ariston. He took the torch from its bracket and looked at it. It appeared dry but usable.

“You’re the Forestor. Can you make fire?” Jael looked sideways at him.

“I will try.” Ariston began hitting his sword on the floor, throwing sparks. Using some of the drier paper, he quickly lit the torch.

“Impressive,” said Orin.

Using the torch, they peered into the hall. The shaft went only about ten feet down then opened up into sloping downward hallway. More torches could be seen below.

Kyri thought she heard a horn somewhere in the distance. Perhaps somewhere in the manor. “Let’s not tarry. Who’s first?”

Keestake practically jumped into the shaft, pushing the Hin out of the way. “I’ll go.”

The party wasted no time in going down the shaft and proceeding down the hallway. However, they did collect the old torches for the wall and vowed to keep two burning at a time. By their best estimate, each would burn about forty to sixty minutes. They would keep track of their time below with the burning of them.

As they walked down into the growing darkness, they could hear something behind them. There was little doubt that either the Orcs or Goblins had heard the crash and now were in pursuit. Keestake yelled that they must move more quickly and the party began to run in the shadowy light. Flavius and Chronos struggled with the weight of the Dwarf but they were determined to get him out alive (if they made it out alive themselves).

They could see the walls expanding into a chamber and Keestake, still in the lead and amazingly spry for his age, turned left around a corner. Running into the room, they noticed Keestake standing at a lever. The air was dank but they were only concerned with their pursuers. Keestake made sure everyone was in the chamber then he tugged the lever down.

A tremendous crash resounded from overhead and the sounds of descent changed momentarily to screams and then to silence. Then a tremendous cloud of dust rushed out of the hallway and a hail of medium to large rocks crashes to the floor, covering the party in a fine dust and fluttering their torches but not putting them out. Finally, a solemn silence descended over the chamber.

In the torchlight, the characters could see that the chamber, not just its air, was dank. The room had rough stone walls and a damp, oppressive atmosphere. Just as Keestake had indicated on his map, the space seemed to have been partitioned off into three storerooms, each piled high with crates and jars; each storage area was about 20 feet broad and 40 feet deep, and the areas were separated from one another by walls of red brick. To the south, a low shaft led deeper into the catacombs. There was no noise except for the distant drip of water, a faint scurrying, and the burning of the group’s torches.

While the characters were debating, Keestake again began mumbling. He was growing louder but caught no one’s attention yet.

The old man wiped his brow and shook off his hands. "Well, we made it. Knew we would. Haven’t been down here in a while. Remember the worst trip I ever had to make down here. Right after them first pirates left, 60 years ago. I had to do right by my sovereign, don’t you think? I couldn’t leave him lying there, hacked up and stripped down. Had to prepare him right and fine for the afterworld. So I hauled his body down here. Hard work that was. Dressed it up in some clothes and goods that the pirates missed. Laid it in a crypt near his son. Hauled his queen’s body down, laid it between her husband and her son. That was grisly work. I was sad. Never been so sad since.

Himself had a ring, something he’d found adventuring. Made things happen, if you just wished for it. But they’d stabbed him in the back before he got a chance to do any wishing. I took it off him and prayed that they’d never decay, they’d always be in one piece when it was time for the dead to rise up for the afterlife. Knew I’d done right; it always seemed his eyes followed me after that. Year after year after that, he never decayed. He’s in as good a shape now as he ever was, likely. Don’t know for sure. Haven’t been down here in a while."

Jael’s ears had perked up at the mention of a ring. “Did you say there was a wishing ring down here, Keestake?”

The old man ignored her and kept, mumbling. “You need to get used to your quarters, you know. You’re going to be down here a piece. You’re not leaving, you know. No more so than me. Y’see, I really couldn’t let you wander off with the Sea King’s treasures and pretties. Can’t let you profane the tomb of his son. What kind o’ servant would I be if I let that happen? I wanted to get down here and shut up that shaft when the Orcs first landed, but they got me. You’ve done me a favor. Got me down here so that I could shut it off.”

The others were now listening. Orin interrupted him, “What are you getting at Keestake?”

The old man turned to the Hin. “Sorry to say you won’t be leaving. You’re not going to find the entrance to the tombs. Going to die here, like me.”

Melisana was bewildered and looked around at the rest of the party. “What are you saying, Keestake? We trusted you. We have to get off this island.” Melisana appeared to be on the edge of tears.

The mage stepped up to the old man. “Listen here. We are getting off this island. We have come too far for this nonsense.”

Suddenly, a very long knife appeared in Keestake’s hand. “Back off wizard or I will hasten your death.” The knife glinted evilly in the torchlight but the mage refused to step back. He had quietly drawn his own dagger.

Ariston and Flavius were slowly moving to opposite sides of Keestake. His eyes caught Flavius’ which caused the warrior to stop. A weird cast came over Keestake’s eyes and the entire party realized that he had been crazy all this time and leading them here, to their deaths. The old man began to giggle somewhere in the pit of his belly, an unnerving giggle that sent shivers down their spines. Then, like a cat, the old man who once appeared frail and weak, leaped at the mage and attempted to drive his knife into the wizard’s heart.

The Forestor, Bard and Soldier were too quick for the old man. Syndylys side stepped and Flavius’ sword caught Keestake in the shoulder. The old man grunted and spun, avoiding the blades of Ariston and Jael.

The old man grabbed at Melisana’s hair. He pulled her off balance and into the way of his attackers. He let go as she fell to the floor screaming. His dagger flashed and he slashed Syndylys across the stomach. The mage looked down in disbelief at the growing red slash. He put his hand to his stomach and drew it away as he felt the warm blood. He staggered back into Melisana.

Meanwhile, Flavius, Jael and Ariston were back to attack Keestake. Jael faked a wide swing but then stuck the point of her blade into Keestake’s left shoulder. He again grunted in pain. He turned to move away from her but Ariston’s long sword was coming across like a scythe. It cleanly cut through the man’s neck and severed his head. Blood splattered the wall and Orin looked away in disbelief. Keestake’s body slumped to the floor and spasmed slightly.

Ariston calmly wiped his sword clean. Flavius checked out the body to see if Keestake had been hiding anything else. He had not.

Chae moved to look at Syndylys’s wound. It was deep and painful but the scout did what he could. Syndylys was shocked that he had been hit and did not move away from Chae’s ministrations.

The party regrouped and debated for a few minutes what to do. After a while, Syndylys turned to Kyri. “Perhaps that liquid we found is a healing draught. Let me check it out.”

“Okay,” she said. She unstoppered the flask and smelled it quickly. “Oh. That is awful. It smells like sweaty humans. No offense.”

“None taken,” said the mage. He took the bottle and tried to figure out the color in the torchlight. He then smelled it. He agreed. Sweaty soldiers perhaps. He stuck his finger in the bottle and dabbed into the liquid. It was thicker than expected and the smell was almost over powering. He tasted it. Salty but nothing happened. He did not feel anything different.

“Seems like a potion of do nothingness,” quipped Chae.

Orin turned to the mage, “In my experience, potions often have clues to their use in the way they smell or taste. Perhaps this is a potion of speed. Syndylys, try running.”

The magic-user shrugged his shoulders then jogged across the room. He did not feel faster.

“Oh well. It was worth a try. At least we know it is not poison.” The mage passed the bottle back to the Elf.

The group turned their attention to the alcoves. In the first one, they found large wooden bins that contained the residue of what appeared to be grain. If indeed grains were kept here, they were probably long ago eaten. The wood of the bins was damp and rotted and showed signs of chewing from large (possibly) rodent teeth. Nothing of value was evident.

Chae and Ariston were anxious to check out the spot that Keestake had indicated was full of good armor and weapons. They went to the third alcove while the rest of the group checked the second. In that one, the group found many decayed bolts of cloth, mostly utilitarian linen and wool, and hanging masses of mold that once were probably animal hides. If they were hides, not one of the party can tell what sort of animal it was. Though Syndylys thoroughly examined the find, he discovered that none of the stuff could still be used as clothing. They did think about using the linen for torch wrappings but they had enough torches to last through the destruction of the island so extras made no sense.

In the third alcove, Chae and Ariston found it was piled haphazardly almost to the ceiling with very large wooden crates. The crates appeared to fill the chamber from front to back and from side to side. Unfortunately, in their zeal to get to the promised weapons and armor, the two did not notice a spider web thin steel wire stretched from wall to wall at ankle level just inside the opening to the chamber. As they entered, the top part of the pile of crates (loaded with bricks) tumbled down on them. Chae tried to give a warning but it was too late. The crates shattered, sending wood and bricks showering painfully down upon the two adventurers.

Orin quickly came to bind their wounds. While he was doing that, Chae and Ariston noticed that the crates were probably only piled up in a wall designed to collapse. The room was empty beyond the fallen wall of crates. Orin wondered aloud, “Who would do such a thing?” The others were silent on the issue.

Collecting themselves again, the group moved what they thought was south, out of the chamber and down a wide hallway. In the torchlight, they eventually came to a large curtain which blocked their path. Cautious after the experience of the falling crates, both Jonathan and Chae checked the curtain for traps but came to the conclusion that it was just a rotting tapestry. They had no idea why it was hanging here in the hall way.

When the characters parted the curtain, they saw, perhaps twenty feet ahead, another tapestry, just like the first one. Orin and Chae went ahead to inspect the next tapestry. Luckily for the group, Chae discovered a thin steel wire running through the bottom of the curtain. Orin decided he should look on the other side and slithered under it (and the wire) into the darkness. He shouted that it was dark on the other side of the tapestry so he began to try to light a torch.

Meanwhile, Kyri, Chae and Syndylys had decided to cut the top of the tapestry so that it would fall without disturbing the steel wire. At first, it went well. However, about half way through Kyri’s cutting, Syndylys began to get a cramp in his hand. He tried to ignore it but it was bad. The lack of sleep and food had been wearing on his body and the muscle concentration involved in holding the curtain steady was taxing him too much. His hand involuntarily jerked. At first, they thought nothing had happened. But just when Chae was about to let out a sigh of relief, the floor beneath them started to drop.

Kyri and Chae tumbled forward, through the curtain, ripping the rest of it from overhead. Syndylys on the other hand, fell. He tumbled head over heels and landed on his back, in an inch of water about ten feet below. Though he was alive, he was afraid to move, lest he discover he had broken something.

The characters who had been standing back, rushed to the edge of the now present pit. Using the rope that Jael had saved from various people being tied up, Jonathan and the cleric lowered themselves down to check on the mage. He was surprisingly unhurt. “You Alphatians are tougher than I thought,” said Chronos. The mage’s shoulder did appear to be out of socket but the cleric painfully put it back in and the mage felt much better. The three of them carefully used the rope to get back out of the pit.

Having survived another trap and getting back together, the group bravely resumed their walk down the dank hallway.

Soon, it opened into a room which like the first in the catacombs, was divided into three alcoves. The first was piled high, front to back, with dirt-filled, rubbish-filled, and earth-filled crates. Thinking of the trapped crates in the first chamber, the group decided to leave this space alone. Kyri did think that it was weird that someone would take the time to fill these crates with junk but not to make a trap (at least she did not find a trap) like the first one.

The next alcove again appeared to contain trash filled crates. But when Ariston began to move a few, he heard large scurrying. He thought rats but their scurrying was heavier. As if these rats were larger than any he had ever encountered. The group again decided to leave well enough alone. Besides, according to Keestake, the boat was not here.

The group checked the last alcove and found it to be different from the others. It was empty except for a circular, stone-lined well set into the floor and the bucket and winch apparatus erected above it. The characters could hear water rushing far below. They decided not to lower anything down (including the bucket) and instead to move along. They were confident that only a few hours remained before the goddess would cleanse the island.

Proceeding down the hallway, Orin noted that on Keestake’s map, it said, “Go slow hallway.” Syndylys shook his head. “Nothing he has told us so far has proven to be true. Why should this be any different?”

Ariston agreed with Syndylys. “The scratches I received from those bricks attest to that; as well as his failure to mention that pit trap. Let me roll something down the hallway to make sure. It does appear to sag a bit up ahead.”

Ariston ran back to the alcoves and grabbed a large rock. He then bowled it down the hallway. It bumped along out of sight into the darkness. “Hmm,” said Ariston. “Nothing happened. I still think we should do the opposite of what Keestake said from now on.”

Orin shook his head. “I am pretty light. Let me go first. I will probe ahead with this stick.” He hefted the broken table leg he had been carrying since they found the entrance to the catacombs.

The entire party looked at him then shrugged. “Be my guest,” said Syndylys.

Orin tentatively moved ahead. He moved slowly, using his stick as a probe. Melisana held her breath. The Hin was just beginning to cross the sagging area when there was a loud creak. He froze but the floor did not. He dropped through a gaping hole and screamed. It sounded like he hit something but the yelling continued, moving further down. The group rushed to the hole but it was too late. The Hin was out of sight. They could only hear him screaming and crashing. Then it was silent except for a distant sound of running water.

Ariston turned away from the hole and ran down the hallway. The rest of the party followed suit; even the cleric, who was still shouldering the Dwarf. No one looked twice for the Halfling.

The group emerged in yet another large chamber. However, it was not as they expected from the map. Instead, there was a large squarish block built into the eastern wall. The adventurers’ hearts sank a little as they realized that there was no boat here. There was not even an entrance to the outside.

Visible from where they had entered were small wooden doors, spaced about every ten feet on the brick block’s wall facing the group. There were five doors. Walking around the block, they found five more doors.

Each adventurer picked a door to open. Inside the first few, they found rotted cots and chairs, but no treasure, furniture or weapons of worth. Inside one, Syndylys found a surprise: a trap which fired a crossbow bolt at him. The old rusty crossbow was barely able to send the quarrel across the little room and Syndylys jumped out of the way easily.

After exploring the entire large chamber and each of its smaller brick rooms, the party was exhausted. There was no boat, no way to go forward and no way to return to the surface. It appeared that Keestake had been right. They were destined to die down here.

Melisana sat down on the floor and tried not to cry. She would never see her father again nor the streets of her home, Specularum. No one would ever know what happened to them because in a short while, the goddess would wipe the island clean. They had failed.

Kyri stood motionless. She was thinking. There had to be a way out. There was always a way out. “Was there anything we missed?” she asked.

“Nothing,” said the mage confidently. He was tired. His wounds had taken a toll. He was almost ready to accept their fate.

“We did skip searching through all of those crates in the second room,” Chae noted.

“Then we had better go back and search everything,” said Kyri. “I plan on living a few hundred more years. Besides, it is unfitting for a child of the forest to die so deep in the dark underground.” She adjusted her rags and started for the northern hallway.

They stood in front of the two alcoves, both piled high with junk and crates. Kyri motioned to the middle one, “Ariston, Jael and Jonathan. You search the one with the scurrying noises. Flavius, Chronos and I will search the other one. The rest of you, keep watch.”

Melisana did as she was told. She kept thinking she could hear the Orcs yelling but knew it must be her imagination. There was no way that they could have gotten through the cave-in that Keestake had pulled down with that lever.

Syndylys stood back. He was happy to not be moving those dirty crates. A wizard had to keep certain standards. He pulled out the wand they had found. A funny little stick indeed. He did not know if it had a magic word and if it did, he knew of no way to find it on the island. He pointed the stick at his companions and waved it. Nothing. He concentrated harder.

Suddenly the stick began to grow warm and jiggle slightly. The mage was sure he was not imagining it. Then, he saw something else. The dagger that the Elf was carrying, appeared to glow. She did not seem to see it but he certainly did. He turned towards Ariston and noticed that the spear the Forestor carried also was glowing. And so was the bottle that Kyri had.

So it worked after all! He was excited but said nothing to the rest of the party. He slipped the wand back into his rag belt.

Meanwhile, the others were making progress. But Ariston jumped back. “What was that?!”

Suddenly, large rats, each the size of a dog, scrambled forward, following Ariston. They looked ravenous, as if whatever they subsisted on down here was not enough. Unfortunately for the adventurers, the rats seemed to think that the group was for snack.

Before the Forestor could jump too far away, a rat sank its teeth into his leg. He grimaced in pain and stumbled away, wrenching his flesh from its fangs. Jonathan stuck it with his sword and it squealed. Black blood spurted and the creature turned belly up, dead. However, more were crawling over the top of the crates and one leapt onto Jael, almost knocking her over. Its claws dug into her shoulder but she shook it off.

Flavius, Chronos and Kyri were oblivious to the battle. They were moving around the crates in their room, trying to find anything that would help them escape. Kyri began to stare at the back wall.

Chae stepped up to assist the battling members of his group. He felled the one that Jael had tossed off. Jonathan turned to another and nearly sliced it in half. Ariston, recovered from the shock of the bite to his leg, dispatched one with his blade. Jael, having the one that had clawed her dispatched by Chae, turned to the last one and bashed it with the makeshift club in her hand. It tried to get away so she hit it again . . . . and again . . . until it stopped moving.

“I think I found something!” Kyri yelled from the other chamber. Still oblivious to the fighting she looked back at Melisana who appeared to be in distress. “What’s wrong?” asked the Elf.

Melisana pointed and Kyri crawled back to the entrance. She peeked over and saw the carnage laid down by her companions. “Oh. Well, I think I found a door.”

She explained that there was a definite frame in the rock. The heat looked different at the edges due to the thickness of the wall there. She surmised it was a secret door.

The group quickly cleaned up the bitten party members and crammed into the back of the room where Kyri had found the door. With great trepidation, they attempted to open it. It did not budge. Kyri noticed something else: a discolored rock. It was hard to spot in the darkness. She reached out and twisted the rock. It turned easily and the secret door slid open. Beyond, the secret door opened inward into a rough-hewn tunnel cut out of stone. The air of the tunnel was danker and less wholesome than that of the catacombs, but it was not completely foul.

Just then, Melisana and Kyri both thought they heard something. Perhaps an Orc from far away. Surely they could not have made it through the ceiling collapse but the characters wanted to take no chances. They went through the secret door and closed it behind them.

After many hundreds of feet and through several twists, the hallway opened into an enormous chamber, with a partially smooth and partially rough-hewn floor and rough-hewn walls. In the torchlight, the group could not see its limits. Without a doubt though, the characters knew they had reached the crypts. If Keestake had been at least a little truthful, there was probably a boat and a way out down here.

The group cautiously peered around in the torchlight. This was the sixth set of torches. If the adventurers were right, somewhere at the end of this set or the beginning of the next, the goddess would wipe the island clean. Everyone felt the urgency.

Using the wall left wall as a guide, the group began to move around the room. They came to a chamber that appeared to be about thirty feet deep and twenty feet wide. The northern wall was rough. In the cent of the room was an upraised slab of stone. Otherwise the room was empty. The group searched the walls for any markings but found none so they went on to the next one.

Inside, was another thirty by twenty room. This one had some brick walls and the center slab was occupied. On it was the body of a man bedecked in rich blue garments (not tattered) and dulled scale mail. A large and shiny mace was laid out beside his right hand and a golden coronet was worn on his brow.

Roughly carved in the front of the slab was the inscription:

Sea King
Tamed the Islands
Laid Low by Pirates

Ariston and Jael moved closer to the body. In the torchlight, they could tell that the flesh of Viledel was not decayed. It was just as Keestake had predicted. The Sea King’s face was pallid, with bruises and cuts still showing vividly. The blood in the cuts was brown, not red. But most disturbing was that his eyes were open, but did not move.

“He will not need that armor,” whispered Ariston. I am going to take it off him. Sad to dishonor the dead but death is natural and the body just a husk. I will cut off his head to make sure he will not fight us."

Jael nodded her agreement but said nothing. The others stood back, watching.

In the torchlight, Kyri noticed movement in the third crypt which was still unexplored. There was no sound and she watched breathlessly.

As Ariston crept closer, Viledel sat up. The body swung its legs off the slab and stood.

Meanwhile in the other crypt a woman emerged from the shadows. She looked to be about 40 years old and would have been extremely attractive, but she was cold and pallid in death, with one great brown stain in the chest of her once-lustrous green robe. Her hair was still blonde and shining but her eyes were lifeless.

As the undead Sea King approached Ariston, Jael drew her sword. “It’s about time we had a good fight, eh Forestor?”



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