Horn Gate, Ice-cursed
The stone box
Once again, Tech-na examined the runes which covered the stone box in the star chamber below the cold ruins of Olathoe. They were definitely magical, and they matched those on the shields of the warrior frescoes which surrounded the chamber. Blundar Oddly stepped forward and cast a spell of trap detection. “It’s trapped —” he said, before slumping into unconsciousness. Either the spell had worn him out or something particularly sinister was in the air.
Ockasiola watched Blundar until he awoke. Meanwhile, Krassius-Vror wandered back the dead Icewyrm to hack off its head. Yucta Axotylata also tried to harvest as many dragon parts as practical for potions.
When they returned to the star chamber, Oddly had regained consciousness. Krassius-Vror strode forward impatiently and reached for the box lid. He opened it a crack, then staggered back with a brief screeching in his brain. The lid fell closed, but he noticed that the box was moveable. He pushed at it and there was a grumbling sound. The stone frescoes stepped out of the wall as armoured warriors!
Stone warriors attack
Cold blue lights burned behind the warriors’ helms. Krassius-Vror leapt on to the stone box as the warriors advanced — all except for one which succumbed to Ockasiola’s Glue spell. The magical warriors fought grimly and defended well. They wounded Ockasiola and Blundar. But back-to-back the adventurers cut down one, then another until all lay in piles of rubble and the walls were blank. It had been a tough fight though and Tech-na suggested they rest and return the following day. They returned to the cold air above and sheltered in the necromancer’s tower. The night was quiet.
The sorcerer’s skull
The next day they returned to the stone box. Krassius, Ockasiola and Yucta heaved the lid off. A ball of flame engulfed Krassius as the others leapt clear. Krassius screamed and rolled about on the floor. The others succeeded in dousing the flames and tending to his serious burns. The box lid lay on the floor. In the box was an old skull, covered all over with mysterious runes. The skull of Anothep-Soth! Tech-na recognised the name as that of a powerful sorcerer of the Li’Tan order, a group of wizards who travelled to the Dreamlands and beyond. He thought such a skull might be useful, so he tried ventriloquism to make the skull appear to talk. But the others saw his lips move. They laughed, but let him take the skull anyway.
Ghost of the watchtower
Before they left the ruins, the adventurers investigated the lone tower beyond the ruins, which seemed to be intact. It was some way beyond the city ruins toward the mountain pass. Piles of rubble marked with strange faces covered the door. Tekna recognised the faces as warning masks made by the Inutos, a savage northern people long gone. Krassius and the others cleared the rubble, while Blundar deftly scaled the wall (still wearing his armour), peered through the dark window, slipped and fell heavily on top of Ockasiola. The doorway was cleared, revealing a dark stone staircase winding up the inside of a hollow tower. They climbed to the battlement at the top. There, a hollow-eyed ghost stood, with sword and spear of ancient appearance.
“I was the watchman of the city of Olathoe, last outpost of Lomar,” sighed the ghost. “Magic made me sleep at my post when the Inutos attacked, and now I am doomed to stand at my post forever.”
“How can we help you, spirit?” asked Yucta
“There is no way.”
“What about this skull?” asked Tech-na.
The ghost said: “That is the skull of Anothep-Soth, who opened a gate for the people of Olathoe to escape when the Inutos came. The Inutos’ master, the wizard-thing Khahkht sought him here.”
“Wizard thing?” Yucta queried, rolling his eyes. But there was no more answer from the ghost, so they left it and descended the tower.