After enlisting a new henchman (to deal with any traps or locks they come across), the party pack up their gear on their horses and ride West towards the mountains; their goal: Death Mountain!
They follow the old road into the valley, cross the river by a ford, and then head off-country. The plains become rougher, then turn into low hills that gradually grew taller and steeper as they draw toward the mountain range. The trees are starting to change colour with the onset of autumn, and there is a chill in the air. For the first few days the journey is peaceful, even pleasant; but then they enter the lowest ridges of the mountains and start to cross a dead forest of skeletal trees dusted with frost. They spot a ruined watchtower in the distance and make a note of it, in case they want to check it out on their return.
As dusk falls, they ride out of the trees into a large clearing; at the same time, a band of five hefty looking ogres walk out of the trees opposite and stop. For a moment no one moves, then an ogre, in crude common, yells out:
“Oi! We hungry! Give us horses to eat… give us gold too. We like pretty coins!”
The adventurers and their henchman ready themselves for combat, but first they try to warn them off, but the ogres seem too mean or too stupid to pay much attention and start walking towards them. Iral and Alvis prepare to cast some magic, while the rest draw their weapons and crossbows, intent on dealing with the ogres before they can get any closer. The lead ogre once more demands meat, but gets no answer.
Iral casts sleep and three of the mighty ogres fall to the floor, snoring loudly; almost the same time as Alvis says a prayer and blesses Gideon, infusing him with divine fortune. Oswald and Armis let loose with their crossbows, but scoring hits on the lead ogre, while the rest get off their horses and start to advance. All this just makes the remaining two ogres really angry, and they heft their rather large clubs and start to lope towards the oncoming fighters.
One ogre immediately succumbs to another spell, as Alvis Commands it to sleep; the lead one suffers more injuries as Iral burns it with a Magic Missile, and as Gideon tries to hit it, he stumbles and almost drops his sword. Oswald goes to join Gideon, and gets whacked by the annoyed ogre for his troubles; leaving Tomlinson and Geoff to hack away at the sleeping ogre, trying to kill it before it wakes… but its hide is thick and despite their grievous strikes, it still breaths and stumbles to its feet as it wakes up; only to fall down dead as Armis sneaks up behind and stabs it in the back. The others pile into the lead ogre and before it can rise its club again, it joins its companion in death. They slit the throats of the sleeping ogres, find a sack of looted silver, and carry on; few qualms about killing ogres, menaces that they are.
The next day they ride up into the mountain, the temperature steadily dropping. Just below the tree-line of Death Mountain they find a cabin of crude skins and stakes; with a grey bearded, smelly old man chipping away at what look like wooden headstones. Animals skins hang drying from lines made from gut, and blood and waste litters the floor. The trail they’ve been following carries on past, heading up to the mountain. As soon as he sees them, the old man waves and shouts hello and welcomes them; he introduces himself as Zeke, asks them if they want some time and badger bites, and is not too put out when only Iral and Alvis join him; the rest stay with the horses, ready to leave. They talk to the wild man, whose stench is odd and breath stinks. They learn that he makes graves for the dead, those left unburied on the slope of the mountain, where the evil shrine stands. Intrigued they try to learn more, but he doesn’t know a lot and he also warns them off, telling them that the place is evil, cursed and they’d be doomed if they go there; but go they must, and as they try to continue on their way, he tries to stop them, barring their way and shouting at them to leave before they are all doomed. It takes all of the to wrestle him out of the way, and Armis ends up tying him up to keep him ‘safe’. He makes sure the ropes can be loosened after some time, and trying to ignore his shouting “You’re all doomed!” they carry on up the trail.
A couple of hours before dark, following the trail through howling and freezing wind, snow and difficult trail, they cross a ridge and see a cabin in the near distance, a mass of graves between them with an ugly huge oak tree just off the trail. Thick snow blankets the ground, the trail little more than a groove. Behind the cabin the mountain slopes sheer up, lost in mist. The wind dies down, and there is no sight or sound of animals, or any life at all; but they do hear a faint whistling hum, from all around by the sound of it; perhaps the wind? They make camp in a sheltered alcove, just before the ridge, and leave Geoff and Oswald with the horses. The rest head up to the cabin and start to look around, first outside; inside are a bedroom, living room (with three chairs facing the window that Alvis looks through) and a kitchen, that they can see. They also find a well outside, and some footprints that lead them to a frozen body, a man with an horrified expression, dressed in a nightgown. With an hour or so daylight left, they decide to enter the cabin, by front and back entrance.
Iral and Alvis enter by the backdoor. Gideon, Armis and Tomlinson enter by the front door, with has no hinges and falls with a loud thump as Gideon pushes it. Inside they have a good search; they heard a harpsichord, matching the tune of the faint whistling hum outside; but when Alvis finds the instrument, it is not playing at all, and he can no longer hear it, despite the others still able to. Not put off by such spookiness, they continue to explore: they find a huge tome with thousands of names in it, that Zeke had been using to mark out the graves; a mirror that (after last time) they all refused to look into; a clock telling the wrong time; and a trapdoor that was chained and padlocked and they believed led to the shrine. Iral found the belongings of the dead man, and takes anything that might be useful. They also find a painting, which shows an altar with themselves standing behind it, Gideon drinking from a goblet, and a golden bowl on the altar; very similar to that which they are looking for, the Relic of St Katherine! Even this doesn’t worry them much.
Before heading to the camp to rest, they decide to check out the trapdoor. Armis checks it for traps and finds nothing, but he has trouble picking the lock. Gideon has a go instead, after Alvis blesses him. Much to Armis’ annoyance, he succeeds. “I weakened it for you,” said the disgruntled henchman.
Opening it, they find a dark shaft heading down; handholds on the side wall, but no idea how deep it is, as their light doesn’t reach the bottom. They lock it back up, and head back to camp. They position themselves to keep an eye on the cabin, and settle down to sleep…
End of Session
Total Kills: 1 monster, 34 bandits, 1 dead man, 9 mosquito-bats, 1 giant spider, 5 ghouls, 1 troll, defeated a party of three adventurers (but let them go free), 1 gelatinous cube, 1 ape-creature, 5 ogres;
PC deaths: 1 (and 1 lost an arm);
NPC deaths: 1 (Bran)
Shields Splintered: 11;
Total XP: 22,199.