As we were resting, we collectively heard a loud rumbling sound from the complex above us. The ancient wooden beams holding the tunnels up groaned and dirt rained upon us from above. We had to think quick and decided that, rested or not, we should get out of these tunnels as soon as possible. We grabbed the items we noted were magical from the niches and Janlynn, with her glowing shield, led the way up the stairs.
It was a very tense race through the tunnels to the cramped spiral stair leading back up to the attic. As we neared the top, we were forced to cover our faces from the choking smoke that was flowing down the stairs. Entering the storage room, we could see a red hot stove billowing fire and belching smoke to fill the room. Barely able to see through the smoke we saw that the door out of this room had been replaced by devilish metal teeth which chomped together to prevent our exit.
Tetsuo and Akkiir reacted quickly and lithely leapt through the vicious metal maw into the attic hallway and continued onward. Thinking it was only a terrifying illusion, I called upon my gnomish instincts and soon determined that somehow – this was very real, and very deadly. Nim tried to push some furniture into the jaws, as he miraculously leapt through at the same time, hoping to confound them, but they bit directly through the furniture and narrowly missed him.
I assume brave Uphir was trying to help, as she unceremoniously collected me in her massive arms and tried to – push me through the jaws ahead of her? This tactic proved to be most painful as we both suffered severely for it. Just to be clear, I am quite nimble as a forest gnome and excel at acrobatics. Janlynn was forced to try and heal the two of us as best she could but this delayed us in the room and the smoke almost overwhelmed us.
I leapt through and prepared my small amount of healing power to use on my comrades should they fail. After valiant attempts my two friends made it through the chomping door and suffered some wounds and healing was done. Another chomping doorway awaited us heading downstairs. Nim had jumped through and was desperately urging us to follow, concern etched on his face.
Uphir had a different thought and went into the children’s bedroom and began to frantically look for an exit. The ghost of young Thornboldt appeared before Uphir and showed her (Through telekinetic means) that the bricked up window could be broken through. With relief, Nim rejoined us and we all moved into that room and began knocking out the bricks and readying rope.
Meanwhile Tetsuo and Akkiir were continuing to deftly dodge through chomping doorways. Tetsuo thought at first to try the second story balcony. but it was not passable. They rushed downstairs towards the front door and were confronted by more chomping doorways. As is the way in life, Tetsuo finally seccumbed before the gods of luck and was severely wounded by a misstep through one of the doors, falling into a heap upon the entryway.
With his typical heroism, Akkiir thought nothing of hefting Tetsuo’s sorely wounded body and as delicately as possible, tossing him through safely to the other side of the door into the entryway. Calling upon his elvish magic he leapt through safely, but he was still daunted by the final doorway leading outside, whose chomping motion seemed even more frantic and quick, as if sensing it’s prey was close to escaping it.
Upstairs we had tethered Janlynn’s grapnel and rope securely and began to leave. Climbing down the rope was especially difficult for us all – we must have been so exhausted from the battles of the last few days. I suffered rope burns from slipping on the rope as did Nim. Uphir somehow lost grip of the rope entirely and fell almost the whole way. If it wasn’t for Uphir’s mighty frame, I think anyone else would have died from that fall. We should start packing a ladder I think (or better rope).
Nim and I headed around to the front of the house and Janlynn and Uphir a few moments later after gathering their rope. We quickly learned that those shambling zombies in the mist were still there and had begun to slowly move towards the front of the house. I ran forward and used my final healing word to get Testsuo back upon his feet. He leapt through safely, followed shortly thereafter by Akkiir.
Janlynn took charge and yelled for us to make for the barn. The zombies were almost upon us and we moved as quick as we could towards the barn. Nim and Uphir positioned themselves between their friends and the zombies as they began a fighting withdrawal. Unfortunately Uphir was severely wounded by one of the undead creatures and bore to the ground. Akkiir and Tetsuo acted quickly to race out to help in the withdrawal and Janlynn ran out to heal Uphir. I ascended the loft and used a hole in the barn to target the zombies below with my fey blast.
We eventually all made it into the barn and into the loft, except for Akkiir who stayed below amongst the undead, an aura of protection warding off most of the blows from the evil creatures. It was a tense battle but a short one, highlighted by – Uphir’s deadly and efficient thrown hand axes, Akkiir’s courage and flashing blade and Tetsuo’s attacks, a blur before his enemies below.
Breathing deeply and relaxing our tensed muscles, it was noticed that the heavy mists outside were gone. We could see into the distance – around two or three miles away, in the foothills of a mountain, the tops of houses could be seen. Towering above it all, upon a high precipice, a dark castle stood almost glaring down upon the village below. I shuttered as it reminded me somewhat of the castle from my nightmares.
We decided that we could probably make the village in an hour or two, but with our wounds and the uncertainty of what awaited us ahead, we decided to bunk down in the barn again. During the course of the evening I tried to lighten the mood with some soft music and song – Uphir even joined in keeping a beat on the drum. We could hear creatures shambling by in the forest unseen, and before long wolves seemed to be collecting outside as the night grew darker. Some of the largest rats I have ever seen had made their way into our flimsy fortress and were quickly exterminated. It was suggested that we have some rat for supper and some of us did just that. I used some minor cantrips to make the meat more palatable.