It has been a hell of a day, with the lich slain Soinius felt still a lingering evil everywhere in the dark. The smell of rot and decay was too strong and overwhelming to even pause for more than moments to regain their senses. It was Erfenn who found and throughly inspected several portals, his wits keeping him aware that he had despite his curiousity nothing in hand to take a risk to pass through one of the portals.
With the magical exits too dangerous soon a mundane opening, hidden well in the ceiling was discovered. It was the mercenary who immediately started for a rant of an old story he heard, the conclusion were crushed adventureres that drowned a horrible death when they opened a hidden gate that never was meant to be opened. Before he could even finish the sentences the rescued dwarf opposed him mildly, merely stating that unless some greater magic was at work here, the splices between the tiles are as far from leak-proof as could be.
The mere comment seemed to enlighten the spirit of everyone at least a bit and Darian himself, if he was afraid he was hiding it very well, opened the trap-door to find a dark corridor leading to a stairway. Silently and still feeling a tremendous strain on every limb they advanced only to find horrible undead animals. A short but heartfelt prayer to Brandobaris sent only a shimmering shilouette of a halfling’s footprint onto the hearts of all standing there. While keeping themselves warm and their hearts warm, none of them were radiating any heat or other sign of life anymore. It was tense and their senses were overreacting on everything when the party maneouvered through the ranks of the zombie animals. The involunteer movements of the long dead bodies were keeping them on the edge as they finally discovered a dim light shining from another stairway – mobilizing the last of their reserves they used their newfound strenght to finally emerge from the dark below and see the sunset from a ruin not far astray their original path. With the dwarf’s mention of ancient and cursed ruins Sharyl even could manage to see the little town of New Mithril-Hall. They used the rest of their strength to find and secure a shelter as far as possible from the ruins – and relaxed, fell asleep. All but Sharyl who was still aware and wake enough to take a watch and Soinius who still found the taint of evil too strong around him to relax. His thoughts lost in a world between prayer and crushing despair, a bittersweet taste on his lips telling stories that they were incredible late, telling him if he had been faster, they might have saved more of the dwarves’ lifes.
Only the relaxing shilouette of Selune herself and his midnightly prayer to Brandobaris, the offer of his god to take the burden of walking from him and the power to bend these rules the next time finally gave him back a bit of his spirits. It would take him another few days to find his good mood, but in his heart he had accepted that he did everything to the best of his abilities and saving the dwarf was all he could have done. The kind words of this very dwarf did the best to indeed let him find his spirit again.
When they finally arrived after a two days walk in the city, their welcome was a pleasant one. No matter where they walked it was an appreciating of their deeds in the words and eyes of the people they met. It was a wonderful feeling, one Soinius always loved, it was the way he found Brandobaris, by helping. It was the sweet rhyme and taste of a small victory against the evil lingering in the world.
Three days they spent to regain their strength, washing the incredible stain of rot from their clothes and souls, cheering with and cheered by the dwarves and men of the town. Enjoying meals that were tasty mostly for they hadn’t had anything but dry trail-rations for almost a week – enjoying the moods of the people around them. A hearty and well-wishing departure of Darian with his men on the last day ended another chapter in many of their lives. Offering a lot of good-bye waves but knowing deep in their hearts that even without asking where exactly he was heading to, they might see them again sooner than they would expect this in another region of the world.
By noon the Ironwind was ready to hoist the sails again, the carpenters and joiners of New Mithril-Hall did a good job on the repairs of the hull, and the captain showed good anticipation of the situation for the warship might have ended the journey within the stormy days that were coming. Helmfried, himself being the only one ever stating they should have continued without repairs was once again fighting verbal wars to state his claims for the leadership of this expedition… But luckily this was the only war fought until the storms were over and after several days they heard the heart-lightening scream “Land in Sight!”.