“I wish to investigate the dark elven ruin atop the hill,” you say.
Sir Thomas frowns. “Why? It has been since the urdmordar were overthrown and the Frostborn defeated. Horrors lurk in such ruins, I know, but this one has been empty for years. Sometimes the villagers store seed crops there.”
“The Magistrius Richard was poisoned,” you say. “The last thing he remembers is walking near that ruin several weeks past.”
“I thought he seemed more lucid than usual,” says Thomas. “Very well. I have no other ideas, so we might as well look there. I shall accompany you.”
“And Ulacht,” growls Ulacht.
“Magistrius, Father, stay here, please,” says Thomas. “If the villagers get riled up, we’ll need someone to calm them.”
Father Linus looks embarrassed, no doubt remembering his argument with Ulacht outside the village, but Richard offers a grave nod.
You leave the keep’s great hall, Sir Hamus’s snores and Gotha’s incoherent rambling filling your ears. With the headman and the knight, you climb the rocky hill towards the dark elven ruin, gazing at it. For long millennia, your tutors told you, the dark elves warred against the high elves in wars that lasted thousands of years. Then the urdmordar came, destroyed the high elven kingdoms, and made vassals of the dark elves and the pagan orcs.
And then humans came from Old Earth and overthrew the urdmordar, and now dark elven ruins stand scattered throughout Andomhaim.
“Here we are,” says Thomas as you reach the crest of the hill.
The ruin had once been a castle of white stone, with delicate, soaring towers and graceful arches. Yet it looks…wrong to you, the angles and proportions strange, and you suspect if you stare at it for too long you will develop a headache. The dark elven sense of aesthetics seems alien and unsettling to human minds.
“Long ago,” says Ulacht, “the orcs of Khaluusk served the dark elven lord who lived here, and that lord in turn served the urdmordar, and we prayed to their gods of shadow and death. Then the High King and his Christ came, and we follow them instead.”
“But this place has been empty for centuries,” says Thomas, “and even the last of the treasures were carted off long ago.”
“Then why,” says Ulacht, “does Ulacht see so many tracks?”
You don’t have the orcish headman’s skill as a tracker, but you see that he’s right. Dozens of tracks in the dirt go back and forth to an entrance at the base of the central tower.
Thomas shrugged. “The peasants made them, no doubt, when they came to get the seed crop stored here. That doorway goes to the cellars below the tower.”
“It’s early spring,” you say. “The weather is not yet ripe for planting.”
“And why,” says Ulacht, “did the peasants not wear their shoes? Barefoot humans made these tracks, Ulacht thinks.”
Sir Thomas blinks in astonishment, and you see that he is right. Bare human feet made those tracks, and you cannot imagine why so many people would come here barefoot.
“Perhaps they’re left over from the summer,” says Thomas, but you hear the doubt in his voice.
“The winter would have blown the tracks away,” you say, looking up at the sky to think.
And as you do, you see the blue light flash in the highest window of the central tower.
“Look,” you say.
The others follow your gaze, and the light flashes again. And as it does, you hear a peculiar sound coming from the doors to the ruin’s great hall.
The laughter of children at play.
Where should Ridmark go?
- Investigate the laughing children. (55%, 6 Votes)
- Investigate the blue light in the tower. (36%, 4 Votes)
- Investigate the footsteps leading to the cellars. (9%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 11