The punt carries us downriver, out of reach of the arrows. The old woman — Yag is her name — instructs Ammonite on how to steer us to the northern bank. Those Testerris scum in Hyden’s Ford have got their backs up… I think maybe Ammonite and Calwyn killed some of them, and we’re forced to flee into the wilderness.
Yag leads us to a small village. We seem to have evaded pursuit, giving us time to regroup. We’ve picked up a new companion, Gleb. He was on the punt and got caught up in our flight. He looks strong and not very bright, and has decided to accompany us.
I’m not too impressed to discover Ammonite and Calwyn have bartered all our coin and goods for magical spells for Calwyn and a sword for Ammonite. Seriously?! I gave them my personal sword and armour! Schill is looking even more furious than me and kicks up a mighty racket. I had intended to share the dividends of my gear among the party, but I’m not entirely sure this constitutes sharing. I confess I thought more of both Calwyn and Ammonite and will be more wary with my trust next time.
Ammonite apologises and pledges to make recompense. They make us each a necklace of owlbear claws as a gesture of good faith. This episode troubles me, though. It’s made me realise I don’t know these people at all. Am I such a bad judge of character? Even Schill has surprised me. Perhaps the years I spent away from my village and my family have changed me more than I realised.
To top it all off, Alix denounces all of us for taking those elven artifacts. She’s always been terse, but now she’s being downright terrifying. She demands we all hand back our objects and I fall asleep feeling despondent.
Heading east to the creepy forest
We are going to try to find the so-called Lake of Tears. The clues we’ve gathered suggest this might be where the eye of Varrien is hidden.
There are rumours enough to get us started and I gain directions from the villagers and guide our party from one village to the next over the next few days. Alix finds a Temple of Shadrath in one of the villages and bestows our elven treasures on them in order to make atonement to her god. It doesn’t seem very fair, but at least she gets her magic back.
After a few days we reach an old forest. It’s creepy and still. Unnaturally so. Those in the villages we’ve passed through have warned us against entering, and I fear blessed Emrys has forsaken these woods, but we are pledged to seek the eye.
It’s up to me I fear, so I lead the way into the gloom. But my ranger skills don’t fail me and I spot a marker stone, which leads us onto an old overgrown path, which takes us to a place that must once have been the Lake of Tears.
The Lake of Tears
It’s not a lake anymore. But we can see the outlines of what might once have been a causeway to an island and a sunken place that could once have held the waters of a lake. The probable causeway leads to a featureless mound, fronted by a boulder. It looks like an ancient barrow.
The causeway is warded, of course. Both Calwyn and Schill fail to detect it, but fortunately we all survive the massive fireball that blasts out when it’s triggered.
In the end, Schill clambers down via the old lake bed, and Calwyn crosses too. They confirm the boulder is also warded, but can’t read the markings scrawled all over its surface. We want to get inside, but have no way of doing so.
It turns out Alix has a spell that will soften earth and stone, so we resolve to dig our way in from the top. She and Schill get to work (I take a tumble off the top of the mound and am a bit shaken). They gain access and Schill goes down on a rope to investigate.
He’s only down there a moment, because it’s getting dark, but he thinks he sees something that could be treasure. Will the eye be there?
We retreat from the island to camp in the forest. We should have expected it… Indeed, I think we do half expect it. We are of course visited by one of the undead — a dreaded wraith — when full dark has fallen.
What else from a barrow? I’m only surprised it didn’t attack when Schill was within.
So we are forced to battle the wraith, and amazingly we come away unscathed. It flees to regain its strength. I have no doubt we will encounter it again… and probably more of its kind. Is it likely a barrow would have only one wraith? I think not…
Is our intrepid band finally going to find the Eye of Varrien after more than two long years (for us, not them)? Stay tuned to find out!
The dynamics of this party have gotten really interesting, with quite a lot of intra-party conflict. What will happen when we next play in a few weeks?
For the story so far, read the full D&D Chronicles.