Rhistel eyed the others off handedly, as they huddled round the small fire within the shadowed vault. Outside the wind howled through the steady downpour, and frequent flashes of lightening illuminated the dim figures eerily. The Tiefling Makaria was lecturing the others like a schoolteacher, enunciating her words very slowly.
“Storm Peace is an ancient custom in the Northlands – even the orcish races have been known to abide by it on occasion. The basic concept is that automatic truce exists between all parties who seek shelter in neutral territory during thunder and lightning storms when it is simply too dangerous for…..blah……blah…….blah……”
These human types and their quaint customs. They were beneath him really, and he went back to studying the spell scroll the others had given him for his help at the crypt. He had wondered at a couple of the strangers muttering ‘Storm Peace’ as they entered the chamber. Clearly a custom well known in these parts.
After they had fled from Bow Shot they had hit the bogged down caravan late the next day: a collection of wagons, travellers and pedlars en route to Daggerford and the Summer Fair. The wagons were immobile in the mud of course. It had allowed them to do a little advance trading however, and provide decent food and shelter for the night.
Like a number of other foot travellers they had decided to carry on – it might be days before the wagons could move. A pedlar called Otto had accompanied them.
In the corner quietly sat a female half elf – one of those poor mongrels, neither elf nor human: she had appeared at the portal of the old vault beneath the Tor they had taken shelter from the storm in. The entire landscape was littered with forgotten ruins, the old stonework emerging here and there like rotten teeth on the rolling landscape. Some primitive human structure: he wasn’t interested in the burial customs of savages. There was also a human warrior, with a stupid name like Dink or something.
They were sat inside a roughly square chamber tunneled into the rock, decorated with peeling paint and stonework suggesting that this was once decorated with some care. Now only dust remained, and the shattered remnants of a large stone which had once blocked the archway through which they had entered. These fragments were burned and broken – as if by lightning – and Rhistal thought that this had happened fairly recently. He was pleased with his deduction, but didn’t bother telling the others: it was pointless trying to explain his reasoning to people of their mental capacity.
Each of the other walls also bore what looked like a large sealed stone door. All very interesting he was sure. He closed his eyes.
The room exploded.. A loud thunderclap and a bright flash, and then the mules were honking in panic. there was a rush of stale air and spray of stone and dust.
“What?!!!!!” he exclaimed, stunned and rubbing his eyes. He heard a high pitch squeaking and then they were upon him. A hoard of frightened rats ran noisily over the group, including him, biting and scratching in their panic. And then they were silent or fled, a simple spell from the half elf mongrel having put most of them to sleep. He cursed himself for not having the wit to do it himself.
As they all staggered to their feet they could see that the great seal to the east was broken, leading to a dark corridor.
“The other two are broken too” said Otto, as he moved around the room trying to calm his mules. He sounded worried – the usual human superstitious dread no doubt.
His curiosity getting the better of him, he peered into the east corridor. It went for some distance and then opened out into a larger chamber. The warrior – Dirk not Dink apparently – raised his eyebrows towards him, and padded down the corridor. hesitantly Rhistal followed, noting that the corridor sculptures in here were in somewhat better condition. He’d seen such carvings before, in a museum. Old Illuskan perhaps? Some savage human tribe from the distant past certainly.
Peeking into the chamber they saw that it was empty, save for a simple stone chest situated at the far end. The others were now gathered in the corridor.
Dirk nodded and padded around the edge of the room, and cautiously approached the chest. There was a click and a sound of grating stone, and then rapid hissing. Rhistal saw several small objects shoot across the room from the east wall, and heard Dirk cry out in pain – numerous small bolts protruding from his chainmail.
“Stand still!” he commanded. Barely on his feet, and dripping blood, Dirk did so.
“When you’ve caught your breath, jump back as far as you can”. Dirk crouched, and leapt, nearly falling over. The others rushed forward and grabbed him, and steered him back to the camp to see to his wounds. Rhistal contemplated the chest for a few moments, and then followed them.
Drawing a few components from his pack he stood away from the others and drew a circle with some blue powder. Pouring some wine into a small bowl which he placed in the centre, and kit a candle. He sat down and started to chant in an ancient language, barely audible. The half elf Straya stood behind him, shushing the others if they happened to approach.
After maybe ten minutes, the candle flickered out and the wine hissed and bubbles, and then slowly started to drain away. Rhistal stood up, and seemed to be muttering low commands. He walked to the end of the corridor and peered back towards the chest. Then he seemed to garb something, and walked back. In his hands he held a worked copper bowl containing a bag of coins, and two pearls.
“It is done” he said. “The chest is empty”. Perrin shook his head.
After resting for a while the shadows seemed to gather closer, and their thoughts were illuminated by the periodic flashes of lightning and rolling thunder. Frequent glances were thrown and the other two yawning portals.
“It’s no good” said Makaria. “We can’t sleep in an open tomb with who knows what inside. We need to make sure its safe.” After a few glances at one another, the others started to get up and buckle on equipment.
“Don’t leave me alone here!” wailed Otto.
“Don’t worry” said Perrin. “I’ll stay and guard you. My bow still needs to dry out anyway.”