Expedition 11 - Dulo's Account
The journey to Redwood took 3 weeks longer than expected. I knew before coming here that the area is wild and untamed, but I expected a little more than this. Let's hope the town itself will be more welcoming, and my research will be fruitful. First, I need to acquire the means to conduct it.
I was in the tavern this evening, sparking up conversation with the locals and trying to get my bearing when several sellsword-types came through the door. They weren't in great shape, but I guess that nobody is around these parts. They seemed eager to recruit able-bodied fellows and return to this ruin that they had explored. Their tales of daring-do and treasure seemed outlandish, but their purses were full - maybe this is worth getting involved in.
The group from yesterday were a rowdy bunch, but friendly. We met again this morning to discuss further this ruin, and I got to meet them properly. Rarder seemed the hardy type and experienced to boot. I reckon he's good in a fight, too. There was also a holy man with them - Father Fryd. I don't put much stock in the divine intervention but having him around can't hurt. They were accompanied by a dwarf wearing a strange hat. I've never met a dwarf before, but their culture sure is strange. I can't imagine naming my child "Hats". Or maybe it's a nickname? I ought to ask him some time. They had an arcanist with them as well - Doric. He seemed honest and upstanding, if a little brash. While we were talking, another fellow, Tarek, came to join us. I couldn't quite figure him out, but I won't argue with having another body - ruins are dangerous places, and I'd rather share treasure than die. In the end, we decided that we would prepare, and depart in two days.
I decided to go around town asking about the place we're headed to. People refer to it as "Redwood Castle". It seems to have been something akin to a seat of power in the region. The regional rulers have some ancestral claim to it. I have also found out that there are rumors of monsters, and the living dead residing in the ruin. I will head to the church to get some holy water for the latter.
We gathered again in the tavern this evening to discuss the finer details of our departure. We will be leaving at the break of dawn tomorrow morning. We also decided to hire some else to join us. Her name is Martixa - a sellsword from around these parts. She seems well trained and well prepared.
We will be heading out in an hour or so. I'm nervous. I don't usually lend an ear to rumors, but this time, they have gotten to me. However, my purse is dwindling, and I need money. Let's hope that this goes well.
We came back last night, but I was too tired to write anything. It thought that we were going to die in that blasted place. I was sure of it. But we survived - at least some of us did.
The night we arrived, I was awoken by one of us on watch. The way Hats describes it, some giant bugs of some sort were out there, gnawing on trees, and slowly making their way towards us. We decided that it was safest to retreat to the riverbank, and they left us alone.
The following morning, we weren't as lucky. We went to investigate the large tower to one side of the ruin. Just then, an arrow whizzed through the air in one direction, and hit one of us. The assailant was an ugly, hairless thing, naked and with hatred burning in its eyes. Our front-line fighters charged in, but they were slowed by an animated skeleton trapped under the ruble. Hats dispatched it, while the rest of us focused on the creature, but the damn thing took one of us with it.
After things settled down, we started investigating the area, and found a poorly hidden trap door. We also ran into Gorash – a mountain of a man, who was wandering the area for gods know what reason. Nevertheless, he seemed sound of mind and able of body, and he had just lost a man. Thus, he joined our expedition, and together, we went down the shaft beneath the trap door.
Down there, we found a series of tunnels and catacombs, heading under the fort. The place was dilapidated, with the ceiling having caved in at multiple points. We progressed slowly and carefully - that is, until we hear some macabre moaning, and deranged laughter coming from deeper inside. We did our best to ensure that our rear was safe and delved further. There, we came to a cavernous space, with a rough statue inside. After taking just a few steps in its chamber, the thing came alive, and charged us. We tried retreating to more familiar terrain, hoping that it would relent, but we had no such luck. I was lucky to have been in the back - those in front were pummeled relentlessly by the golem. Father Fryd was impaled by its spear. Doric, gods bless his bravery, rushed it, and set the thing ablaze. He paid for that foolishness with his life, but had he not done it, we might have all succumbed to its frenzy. In the end, we felled it, but only barely, and it cost us dearly.
By this point, we were considering retreat, but none of us felt satisfied to leave this place having lost so much and with nothing to show for it.
We decided to at least investigate the cavern it was inhabiting. One tunnel out was harbored a gate, which we decided is best left closed. The other, led to a small chamber with another statue - much nicer, more ornate, and wearing helmet with a large jewel. That was the prize we were after, and Rarder went to grab it. A foolish act, considering what he had just faced, but we were all grief-stricken, and a little greedy. The statue brought down its stone sword, nearly decapitating Rarder. Thankfully, he spotted it just in time to throw himself to one side and avoid it. And he had taken the helm with him. With that, we retreated. We raised our fallen through the shaft we had come from with the help of Martixa who we left guarding the surface and returned to Redwood.
Here, I found out that some of our group were under the patronage of the local lord – or his daughter. The next while was a whirlwind for me. I was still recovering from the day before and had only begun to process how close we had come to dying in some gods-forsaken dungeon. We negotiated for selling the helmet – some family heirloom it seems. Thinking about it now, I regret not asking to research it first. After all, it lay behind powerful defenses, and in a chamber warded against magic. But what is done is done. We approached the daughter first, who offered us a pitiful 200 gold pieces for a relic of her family, with a jewel worth twice that at least. She seemed upset that we preferred dealing with her father. However, she didn’t risk her life retrieving it, nor did she suffer the slain companions for it. The local lord was much more amenable – he offered us 600 gold for it, and the promise of further assistance through a better boat to use in future expeditions, and paid help to assist us. Maybe if I ingratiate myself with him, he may let me study the helmet at a future date. I can’t help but wonder why it was kept under such guard…