Travelling with the dwarves was easy. They were both friendly and straight-forward dwarves of principles. It was those principles that made them stand against taxation by the Church, and that led to their arrest. Kellor and Aenir ran a small crafting concern, Kellor making items and Aenir mostly selling them. Both were well able to assist the group’s survival requirements.
Food was thinning after some foul weather. The party made some good time whilst on the flat ring-like ledge which seemed to circumscribe Plateau Point. When they came down of the raised land they were faced with thick old fir forest and a pebble beach that stretched to the horizon.
In the afternoon, many days after leaving the stone ship wreckage & Captain Morgaine’s camp, Dom and Kalista spotted an ogre with its back to them, sitting against a thick fir tree.
The party went silent and Aenir whispered, “I can sneak up and check if it’s alive.”
Dom replied, his Fey sight granting him a brief few seconds of incredible detail, “No need. It’s dead. There is no clouding of breath and I can see ice over its skin.”
The party closed and saw the ogre had bled out on the spot. Some fresh snow not enough to cover the deep red stains. Yet it was the missing leg that disturbed the most. Some creature had removed it, likely for food, and then departed.
It was the next day, when they were faced with a broad river that had not iced over, that they heard a creature.
“Some kind of ape predator. I’ve not thought they could be in this part of the world. They’re meant to only be on foreign shores.” Dom was concerned. He knew they were powerful and fast.
The concern was justified even though they did not see the predator. Traipsing a few miles inland they found the river iced up enough to cross safely.
On the pebble beach they saw signs of a one-man camp. Was it Fenris?
They couldn’t be sure.
“I think it’s 50/50 that it was Fenris,” Kallista pronounced.
That night a pair of emaciated ogres attacked them as they prepared their campsite. The hairy giants were little match for the combined might of the party. Aenir’s speed and dwarven combat training turned out to be the hammer against the anvil of Felghanis’ blindness curses. His powers had grown. The ogres had little salvageable gear but the large snares drew Dom’s appreciation.
It was a few more days later that they found sign of a large camp. Maybe 6 people arrayed around a fire.
“Has Fenris found allies?” Dom thought aloud.
“There’s not enough evidence,” Felghanis put forward.
It was towards the end of that day the Iron Tower came into few. A rust streaked needle in the distance, sprouting from the top of a high butte of rock that protruded into the waters.
The shore turned rocky and they travelled in heath and frozen marsh. Then they heard seals on the rocks below. With the aid of a summoned shark they managed to secure a young seal. 35lbs of meat ought to last a few weeks.
Felghanis said, “I can help preserve it. At least for four days before I need to cast again.”
As the closed with the Iron Tower its shape became more apparent. There was a large gallery around the base, above the entrance stair, that likely was for defensive counter-attack. Full of murder holes and the like. Before the tower’s base a stable had been erected.
The climb to the tower was up a series of carved steps. They were far apart to ease the ascent for horses and once at the top the party investigated the stables. Its roof was covered in iron tiles and it was well weathered but serviceable. Inside they found the remains of a camp and a few travelling packs. Rifling those quickly they found the Canon of St. Fergus, oil, and coal. They hadn’t been there long because the damp had not seeped into the material.
“They may be inside and needing aid,” Kallista was concerned. Even if they were part of the Church that wrongly charged them, they still deserved aid.
“Why help people who will make our lives harder?” Felghanis muttered. Clearly he had no inclination to aid anyone from the Church of St. Fergus ever again.
“It is the right thing to do,” Kallista protested. “And they will likely know nothing of us and Dwarf Town.”
Dom was in agreement and Alassiel piped up.
“If we’re going in the tower my psi-crystal will scout ahead. Like at the Hand of Gulresh.”
It was agreed and the crystal scuttled into the tower at a rapid pace.
Inside there was a kind of staging room. Or a holding area. Easily defended with further access to the tower on the opposite side of the entrance. Some debris and potshards indicated nothing but age and abandonment. Stairs led up and to the level with the gallery and its further defences. A combination of reception areas and the archers’ galleries filled out that level.
It was on the next level the psi-crystal found some movement. Two large figures approached it, as if sensing its life-force, and Alassiel pulled it quickly back. Unwilling to risk it against the unknown entities.
“Well, let’s go in, then.”
It was as the crystal had reported. When the reached the landing above the gallery they saw what the psi-crystal had retreated from. Two walking sarcophagi. It was so unnatural. What was worse, bony arms with large sabre claws lashed out and struck Dom with two severe blows. Wounding him badly. The dwarves rushed to drag Dom to safety.
Felghanis could sense they were some kind of undead. He surged up the stairs and sought to command them in the fashion he was taught by his Uncle. They were too strong and too resistant to the energies involved. As if in reaction to his following spell the things lashed Felghanis and he fainted from the shock.
“Retreat, retreat!” they yelled.
“I have to get Fel,” Dom called. He channelled his Fey energy and greatly enhanced his speed. Running past the open arch that the things were attacking through he managed to evade their cleaving claws and retrieve Fel. Back on his feet, Fel recovered his breath.
“What are those things?”
“We’ll regroup in the stables and think of our next move,” Dom answered.
There was no further discussion.