The night watch rouses the others at first light. "Rise and shine Stumpy," says Ingvild, nudging Strom with his toe.
"Don't call me Stumpy," growls the dwarf as he rolls out of his blankets onto the cold frost-covered ground. Strom looks at the sky, a few stars still show overhead, and then sniffs the air. "Looks like a nice day."
"Clear and calm," agrees Dagmarten. "Should be nice all day."
In short order the group has eaten and prepared for a trip underground. The trip to the hill with a deep cut in one face (finished with stone blocks, with big statues out front, an entry tunnel between them) is uneventful. The scouts get closer and watch the place for an hour before the main party approaches. All quiet.
The group falls into their marching order and advances along the hillside toward the entry tunnel, winding between trees and undergrowth. "Something definitely uses this place," whispers Rawon, gesturing at the ground ahead. There are tracks in the mud between the broad stone paving stones that cover the ground outside the entrance.
"Have not seen tracks like these. Claw foots, but not cat or bear."
"And these other tracks. Big, and from the layout, a single creature, but these prints don't match. One is bigger than the other."
"Could it be another abomination, like the one we found at Locky's grave?" asks Durego, eyes on the open passage leading into the hillside.
Mordikarr shrugs. "Does not smell like dead thing here. We go inside and see."
Meanwhile Ohwatoo has been looking over the statues. Up close they are obviously humanoid figures, close to fifteen feet tall, but the vines and weeds covering them obscure details. "I sense no magic here, should we clear them off and see what they are?"
Raúguey moves to start yanking at weeds, but Saurabh chimes in. "Maybe we should wait. If we clear them off whatever is around will surely know we've been here."
The others agree. "I don't like what I see in here," says Grendor from beside the tunnel entrance. "Unless I miss my guess, those are arrow slits in the wall, and it looks like a portcullis ahead. Closed. The right wall has collapsed, there's a lot of rubble on the floor."
"If you all keep an eye on the sky, I'll check the arrow slits," says Strom.
"I'll go with," adds Ingvild. The fighters move up to the entrance, with the others behind them, as the pair advances along the left wall. They carefully peer into the first arrow slit, then move forward, checking each of the four openings in turn. At the portcullis, they both check it over, then peer through the bars.
"Gaa, did you eat that stinky cheese again Strom?" whispers the thief.
"That's nae me laddie." The dwarf nods at the chamber beyond the bars. "Somethin' in their don't believe in keepin' clean." The stench is incredible, but it is not the reek of the dead, this is something alive.
"Looks like human stonework. Not Toresden or Hasuden though. Granite walls and limestone floor. That portcullis... thick bars laddies. Two are a bit bent. Might be able to squeeze through, but it'll be tight for some." The dwarf glances at Raúguey.
The big guy frowns. "Maybe we could lift it."
"Maybe laddie, it looks like somethin' does from time to time. There's a beam just inside the bars, leaning against the wall. Looks as if somethin' uses that to prop open the portcullis." The dwarf shrugs. "Whatever does that is strong though. I wager that gate weights a ton or more."
OOC: The wall to the right is collapsed, revealing native rock and soil beyond. The ceiling in this main passage is at least 20' high, and arched. Definitely signs of passages through this area, the same mix of odd big and small clawed tracks. The ceiling in the spaces beyond the arrow slits and portcullis are a little lower, but still fairly high.
End Date: November 19, year of the Badger, morning
End Status: Great grate.
End Location: Hillside not-ruin, The Wilds