CHAPTER 3.02 - ACROSS THE LAKE

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CHAPTER 3.02 - ACROSS THE LAKE

Post  Admin on Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:55 pm

"Where are they," Wulfram asks Heiner.

"My father and eldest brother are on the far side of this lake, in a thickly forested part of the Woedenwood."

"How quickly can we get there?"

"In half a day if we take a raft. A day to a day and a half if we go on foot. I suggest the raft."

"Agreed," Wulfram says and he follows Heiner to the lakeside dock. It is an old wooden structure that has obviously seen better days. But it is still solid and sturdy enough to take their weight.

"Supplies are coming and I shall go with you." Heiner tells Wulfram, who sees the raft is very large (10' square) and is designed to be poled across the lake. There are two wooden poles. One is perhaps 8' long while the other is at least 20' for traversing greater depths.

It is late afternoon, nearing dusk when they depart and thick patches of mist still shroud the ground and water. They push out from the shallows and enter into the lake, where visibility is poor.

"There are things in this water," Heiner says. "But they aren't monsters, as such. At least I have never witnessed any."

"What things?" Wulfram asks him.

Heiner explains that he's "talking about the ruined buildings that lie beneath in the deeper parts of the lake. We've known about those since the day we first attempted to cross the lake. Two of my brothers decided to go for swim and that's when the weed pulled them beneath the surface. They struggled free and as Gunthar swam for the surface he noticed a sunken structure. Our family has returned on occasions to observe other parts of the lake and we have discovered there are many buildings covered by the water and weed."

"Weed seems to be where the buildings are?"

"That's mostly true but not always. A lot of the weed grows in the shallows where foolish men are most likely to want to enter, unawares."
Heiner likens the nature of the weed to that of the assassin vines and carnivourous plants in the forest.

The light fades more rapidly. Prior to this a sense of the massive stone dam imposing above is felt. Then Wulfram detects a 'pounding' and hears a slow rythmic drum beat. He senses it strongly, but does not necessarily hear it. He figures out that it's coming from high above, with the soundand presence coming from something that is passing overhead. The sound fades and it comes back. Then it fades again. Wulfram recalls he previously glimpsed a giant black wing in conjuncton with this sound before. He also realises the 'sound' isn't physical at all, that it's more like it is something he is aware of, like something pounding rythmically in his head. This repeats throughout the following hour.

"What's wrong?" Heiner asks.

"Something is circling us."

"Are you certain ... because I can't hear it."

"I sense it."

Heiner nods, understanding and says "my brothers and I have also heard what you describe. and on ocassion we have seen the wings through the mist of a giant flying creature. We believe it is a dragon. Only it has never fully shown itself nor attacked our village."

The light is still fading. It is getting dark.

Heiner says "we don't cross the lake very often at nights, mostly because it gets very cold out here." He points to some blankets he has placed on the raft and says "feel free to use those for extra warmth if you need it." Wulfram, proud of his origins, declines.

The mist closes in as it gets very dark. The sound of water swishing as Heiner poles the raft through the lake is all that can be heard.

Wulfram is unsure, but he thinks he has seen a light shimmering far beneath the surface of the dark water. Just for a moment. The light is definitely there when he looks again.

"Do you ever see lights beneath the water, like I am seeing now?" Wulfram enquires.

"No, we have never seen lights down there." Heiner replies.

"Are we above any buildings? Are there any structures here?"

"Quite possibly, I think if we are that they would be located over there." Heiner gestures and points (but doesn't see the light).

Wulfram watches the light, which remains stationary, and the raft slips further way.

"That means we'll be coming back so that I can come back and check out what's down there," Wulfram remarks.

The two proceed through the darkness into the night and nothing of further notice happens. It grows colder. The mist settles. Visibility is 5'.

And then they arrive at the far side of the lake and strike the shallows. Heiner informs Wulfram that the landing spot is close. He says to get your weapons ready, for he does not know what enemies may be present to face. He hopes his father and eldest brother are still safe.

Wulfram readies.

The raft glides onto a sandy shoreline, and there are rocks not far away. The mist has cleared. The shoreline sits below an edge of a thick forest line. They secure the raft together by pulling up higher on the shoreline.

"Can you hear that?" Heiner says.

"Yes, I hear the sound of a fire crackling."

Heiner says "I hear it coming from that direction," and he points west (directly ahead).

Wulfram and Heiner move stealthily and move up over a raised earthen edge into the forst line. There is no sign of movement. But they can smell wood smoke drifting their way. Regarding the scattered rocks, Heiner briefly tells you that direction leads to rocky cliffs and caves.

They move silently and hide. Both see the flickering glow of a camp fire between the trees, obscured by some large unmoving shapes.

Heiner remarks that he thinks the shapes you're observing are part of a large stone circle.

They proceed closer and both hear under brush moving and twigs snapping before it goes quiet, about 50 metres away. Reacting to this sound, Wulfram sees a large white stag standing there. It's looking towards the stone circle and it knows he is there, but it ignores him and remains watching the stone circle. from afar.

Heiner says "what are you doing?"

"Be quiet." Wulfram tells him.

"Why, there's nothing over there except trees. We should be watching the stone circle."

Then the white stag suddenly looks at you. Wulfram's hears a soft voice in his head, telepathically "Day Walker. THEY ARE COMING." Then the stag bounds away.

Heiner says "are you alright, you seem distracted."

"Yes, let's go."

Wulfram and Heiner both hear low voices. The voices are coming from the standing stone circle. They both moving shapes now, in between the trees and stones. The voices are chanting in low soft tones.

There are also sounds of something struggling. Possibly a small animal, although it is obscured and unclear, about 100' away. The shapes are definitely human sized and bipedal, so most probably men.

Wulfram gets closer, alone and senses evil. He clearly sees that there are five hooded figures gathered around a low stone plinth, which is rested upon another wide stone and they are conducting some kind of ritual with a small deer bound to it. The small deer is struggling. Wulfram can also see two other man-sized figures bound and motionless on the ground nearby, near some smaller stones. They look like Friedheim and Erik Aranbergh.

Wulfram moves back to Heiner. and whispers "you move round there and release your father and brother while I distract these guys." Heiner nods. "If you release them, return to the raft." Wulfram tells him.

Both separate to do tasks ... Heiner moves silent

Wulfram goes in ... sneaking forward while the fire light is in the mens' eyes. As he moves in, one of them looks around momentarily while another is fixated on the small deer and raises a large gleaming silver knife. Wulfram is now only 30' away and has attained complete surprise.

Wulfram pulls his throwing axe and hurls it at the robed man who holds the knife.

The axe smashes into him. He screams in pain, drops the knife and falls to the ground briefly before clawing his back up using the stone table to assist. His companions are now aware of Wulfram's mighty presence as the axe retuns to his hand. They pull out wicked looking curved steel sickles.

Wulfram charges forward. He weilds his battleaxe and is already between the standing stones when he attacks the foes all around him.
Using flame on command, he deals a critical blow and cleaves the first opponent in half.

The wounded man chants and hurls a flaming sphere at Wulfram, which lightly singe him (2hp). The other three enemies swing their sickles, two swinging wide while the thirds strikes and cuts him on his side (5hp).

The sphere rolls close and burns Wulfram, who fails to dodge it this time (6hp) while the robed men attack again; one drops his blade, the others miss and the wounded guy ... his skin appears to turn hard like the bark of a tree.

Wulfram swings his battle axe and cuts down another enemy. Then he swings again ... sweping the battleaxe through his next enemy's legs, decapitating them, and the man falls silent with the blood loss and shiock from the sudden pain.

The sphere burns Wulfram again (8hp) and the man who dropped his sickle retrieves it from the ground and swings it, missing. The wounded man chants again, which results in the immediate area around and within the standing stone circle fills will a black obscuring mist, reducing visibility to nothing. Effectively blindfighting, Wulfram strikes out at the foe beside him and connects solidly with flesh, killing the man beside him. He hears the body fall to the ground.

Wulfram hears the sound of running footsteps moving away from the other side of the stone circle. The flaming sphere vanishes, while he pauses and hears the footsteps continue into the thick woods beyond. Wulfram ignores them, letting the last man go. He feels his way to the stone plinth and releases the bound deer. In the dark mist he feels it briefly lick his hand and then it scampers away, startled.

Wulfram exits the stone circle, with the intent to get back to Heiner and his father/brother. Wulfram hears that they are safe and out of trouble, and he steps free of the effect of the obscuring mist to see that they are exiting the confines of a smaller stone circle and running towards the location of the raft. Then Wulfram hears a piercing scream and a bone shattering crunch from beyond the larger stone circle, where the wounded robed man ran from. The sound comes from the thick forest beyond.

Loud footsteps approach from that directioon towards the stone circle. Someone is not trying to disguise their presence. They sound like they are striding confidently towards Wulfram's location.

The Aranberghs reach the safety of the raft and call out for Wulfam, who responds and walks quickly towards them. He still hears the footseps approaching. Wulfram lookis back as he goes, hesitant to leave but knows he must join the others. He glimpses through the trees in the darkness, a silhouetted large man wearing a viking-style helmet , of imposing stature and thick build, hefting what appears to be a massive mattock (war hammer). The man is following Wulfram.

The man is too distant to tell if he is evil ... and the Aranberghs are still calling. "We've got to go now, where are you Wulfram?"

Wulfram joins them. Pushes them off the shoreline and says "wait for me out there. someone is approaching and I think I might know them. Cover me with your bows, if I get into trouble." They nod and wait 100' out, in the shallows.

Footsteps approach. The large man steps out of the treeline. Instinctively, Wulfram knows that evil is not approaching. Then there is an instant moment of recognition. Wulfram recognises a friend standing before him. This friend's name is Hrothgaard, Stormhaten Guard of Valhalla, Champion of Odin.

"Hail Wulfram, my long lost brother. I am sure we will have much to talk about..." Hrothgaard says and lowers his mighty hammer.

"Come with us," Wulfram tells him. "You are welcome company."
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