After our encounter with the wraith last evening, we are solemn and wary as we break camp in the dim shadows of dawn. We know what we are about do is dangerous, but all signs indicate the Eye of Varrien (or one of them, at least) lies within the barrow yonder… and to retrieve it is our quest. Calwyn and Alix have been through much seeking the Eye and our apprehension is mingled with excitement.
On top of the mound, we stare down the hole into the barrow. I am going first. Alix bestows on me a protection from evil spell, Calwyn light, and I descend, the wraith grasping at my leg as I descend.
Oh, blessed Emrys protect me.
I take on the wraith alone as Alix follows me down and makes multiple attempts to turn undead. It doesn’t seem to be working and I battle on grimly. Calwyn is now down the rope and lends his magic missiles. Finally the wraith fades into nothing and we have won our first battle.
The others come down, leaving Gleb atop to keep watch. I am still radiating light thanks to Cal’s spell, and we explore the underground crypt. More than a score of alcoves contain the skeletons of criminals and little else, until we come to a jumble of stuff down the end of one of the tunnels and a section of wall that Cal says is warded.
It appears to be a stash of stuff the wraith has collected. There’s a book which turns out to be his diary, and a scroll telling of some ancient weapon from another world — a flail that has been divided into two parts. (I think that’s what Alix said.)
There is also a stash of magic items and weapons! The wraith has itemised them — luckily for us, since half of them turn out to be cursed. I gain the Amulet of Awareness and a Ring of Dexterity.
The wraith’s rambling diary talks of a great black wurm, which we suspect might reside behind the ward. Calwyn forbids Schill and Alix to touch it, and so Ammonite discovers the secret door. Schill and Alix may not pass through, so we summon Gleb to accompany Calwyn, Ammonite and I down a sloping corridor.
At the end is an underground lake, teeming with fish. To our right is a tunnel entrance and I can just make out a submerged tunnel entrance on the far side of the lake. Strange snaking tracks smear human footprints in the dust.
And then it comes. The wurm. All gaping maw. That mouth fills the entire tunnel entrance.
I move forward to attack it and it rams me more than 10 feet back, revealing more of its black scaly length. And then we lay into it, Ammonite, Gleb and myself arranged around it, swords slashing. Calwyn stands a safe distance back with his magic missiles… until they run out and then he’s in there too with his dagger.
But that beast is massive and no matter how much damage we deal it, still it keeps on attacking. I seem to cop the brunt of it at first, until my limbs go weak, my sight fades and I’m backing away, swaying on my feet. I need to find Alix for a healing boost. I should be unconscious, but somehow I’m still on my feet.
And then the wurm lashes out and devours Ammonite in its great mouth. I watch in horror, but before I can do more than gasp it turns to me again and all I see is teeth and tongue and feel its foul hot breath on my skin until the pain tears through me and all is black.
My eyes open and I’m lying in the dust of the underground crypt, a strange woman leaning over me, Schill hovering anxiously at my side. Ammonite is lying beside me, similarly bleary-eyed.
The others explain. The woman is Glynd, the cleric from Hyden’s Ford who gave us our quest. The wurm is defeated and relinquished a large red gemstone that is indeed one of the Eyes of Varrien. They have given it to Glynd who in return has brought Ammonite and I back from death. Poor Gleb lies dead still. They have fuelled the spells with all those cursed items.
It’s the day after our battle with the wurm, and we rest for the balance of it, then Glynd insists we move south during the night. We all pledge to accompany her and I feel strongly she is the best person to have possession of so powerful an artifact.
The second night of our trek south through wind and snow we reach the river. But before we have time to contemplate our direction, we hear the thunder of approaching horses and soon a troop of mounted warriors, liveried in red and black, descend upon us.
They have magic users. So do we. There is a mighty battle of flashing energy and fire and swords glinting white and red. I am battling two opponents, one mounted, one who has fallen off. My world shrinks to thundering hooves and biting swords and snow. I deal many blows and take even more until once again I feel my senses start to leave me. I fall down in the snow, barely conscious, but aware still of the jumbled motion around me. And the lights. The fire.
Until there is quiet. Muffled voices. Footsteps. I lie there staring at the dark sky.
And then Schill is by me, grabbing my shoulder, trying to pour some potion down my throat. I manage to shake my head. I’m not dead yet. Not this time.
To the sound of retreating hooves, I clamber to my feet and Alix is hauling herself upward. Calwyn is still down. I cannot see Ammonite. Schill has gone to the cleric, Glynd, who appears mortally wounded.
Alix says Calwyn is dead.
And it seems the Eye, so briefly in our possession, has been stolen.
Glynd motions us quiet. With her last breaths she asks us each to swear we will do everything in our power to find the other Eye. We do. Then she bestows upon each of us a blessing, before using the last of her energy to breathe life back into Calwyn, who rises from death shaken and subdued.
It’s midnight and we huddle together in the snow for the rest of the night.
There ended a really action-packed and exciting evening. Five characters died, three were resurrected, treasure was found — including the Eye of Varrien (or one of them), which we have been seeking on and off for more than two years! (Yeah, OK, we’ve lost it already, but for a moment there it was mission accomplished.) Plus we fought our biggest monster ever.
Not sure how we can top that really. (Of course, if Zillah had stayed dead, I would be all mopey and sad…)