09:45 – The group, slightly recovered, move back into the crumbling Aelwyn corridor, and head towards its far end. A low flight of overgrown steps leads back up into the forests; the stillness of the snowy forests and the clean smell of the air a welcome change from the reeking darkness of the Blackgob tunnels.
09:50 – The group calculate their position within the forest, and begin to move towards the distant location where they suspect the bandits lair.
09:50 – 10:40 – The group move with great caution through the woods, alert for ambushes, or any traps left by the Black Gobs. After a while what appears to be some kind of structure, concealed within a huge holly bush is seen ahead, the forest deliberately thinned somewhat in front of it.
10:42 – After a brief deliberation, it is decided that Emmiven and Schnecke will charge up to the structure, whilst the rest of the group either hang back, or (in the case of Gorthias) creep around the back of it.
10:43 – The barbarian and warlord charge! Schnecke makes it to the structure (which he can see is a wooden hide, which holds some sleeping bags, barrels of clean water, an uneaten ham (from the inventory of the merchant caravans the bandits hit), and some wooden furniture). Emmiven however suddenly goes down screaming, a bear trap fastened to his leg!
Emmiven manages to rip the trap free, and Grigori uses his magic to heal the worst of the wounds it has inflicted. By the time they have done this, the Barbarian has torn the insides of the hide to pieces, uncovering some coins hidden in the sleeping bags.
The group conclude that whoever was in the hide left in a hurry.
10:50 – 11:30 - Varracuda finds tracks heading to the northeast. The group follow them and after 40 minutes of tromping through frozen forest, the group come to a series of low limestone cliffs, studded with evergreen bushes and trees.
From somewhere beyond the top of this ridge is heard distant sounds of battle; gunshots, and even a few screams.
11:40 – The group climb on their bellies to the top of the cliffs, and crawl forwards. Soon they spot a wide clearing, in which a shattered Aelwyn tower (only 3 stories remain), is seen rising from behind a circular wall of crumbling, overgrown stone.
It is from somewhere within this place that the sounds can be heard.
Silent, still figures stand guard in a circle outside the place, unmoving in the cold wintry light, and Serren quickly realises that they are some kind of animated undead, almost certainly some kind of Zombies.
11:42 – The group decide to attack, and a plan is drawn up that involves the tougher party members forming a defensive line, whilst the weaker characters attack from behind.
11:45 - Battle begins, and the undead shamble forth, revealing themselves to be Zombies wrapped in black bandages.
Initially the group does very well against them, the warriors cleaving and ripping into the animated corpses with great skill, whilst the sorceress and priest call down holy fire and radiant energy which turns their foul flesh to ash in a moment.
However, suddenly two more undead - crouched and intelligent – appear, racing with frightening speed to join the fray.
Poor Varracuda is grabbed by a Zombie, and then paralyzed by the bite of one of the Ghouls. Shortly after, he is brought down (Grigori rants and raves about “proper strategies”, but no one is listening).
Most of the zombies are down, and one of the Ghouls – burned, slashed and limping – runs back to the safety of the courtyard, where it gives a barking call, summoning another four Zombies!
These monsters shamble to attack and the battle becomes slightly more desperate (Schnecke and Serren prove themselves to be powerful allies, as they destroy masses of the undead)
Another undead appears from the hidden courtyard; another zombie, clad in black bandages, but also bearing a rotted spear, and a tabard depicting a grim standard; a skeletal raven with a halo of five black flames.
Serren recognizes the standard, but at this time cannot share her horror as the monsters continue their attacks
This monster however does not last long, despite its dark ability to heal damage inflicted on it, it's deadly spear and its diseased strikes, for Emmiven closes with it, and finishes it with several deadly blows.
With this monsters death, the fight swings once more in the groups favour, and the remaining undead are slain.
Serren informs the group that the standard the spear wielding Zombie bore is that of the Ravensoul Cabal, a foul cult of necromancers, diabolists and madmen who seek to return dread Jantherak to the living world; a splinter group of the universally loathed Order of Ravens.
11:50 – After the group catches their breath, Emmiven reveals something to them that shocks them – he's a shape shifter!
11:55 – A plan is hatched (once everyone has got over the warlord's reveal); Emmiven will change shape to resemble one of the Ghouls and scout ahead a little ways.
11:57 – After (with the group's help) avoiding the hidden bear traps set in the courtyards (somehow the shape shifter managed to miss the fact that all the undead had trekked around certain areas of the yard), Emmiven enters a low, crumbling stairwell that goes under the tower, and enters a narrow corridor.
At the end of the corridor, the wounded Ghoul wimpers and hisses, but Emmiven does not go in far enough to be spotted, returning to the group.
11:59 – The group decide to make out that they are chasing the “Ghoul”, and with the shape changed Emmiven running ahead feigning panic, they charge in.
The wounded Ghoul at the end of the corridor launches itself at the group, but is dispatched by Emmiven with a quick sword thrust.
12:00 – Spiral stairs stand at the end of the corridor, going up and down. Wet marks suggest that whoever is inside went down. The group follow (but several members badly fluff their Stealth checks, and those downstairs hear them approaching)
12:01 – Reverting to their “We're chasing a Ghoul” plan, Emmiven charges down, and enters into a low, pillared chamber, flanked by alcoves. Grim figures, wreathed in tattered black bandages, and bearing the symbols and standards of the Ravensoul Cabal wait there; one a hulking figure wreathed in shifting shadows and bearing a rune scratched sword, two bearing execution axes, and another wearing the mantle of a magic user; a foxfire nimbus playing about their bandaged head.
A strange fog hangs low in this room – a vapour that seems to move of its own volition and which faintly shines with unholy, rotting light.
A battle starts as the group enter the chamber, and though the shape shifters ruse holds for a shirt while, soon all hell breaks loose.
The barbarian receives a horrible suppurating wound from the sword wielding man (for they are all humans), but slays him with a truly horrific blow that all but chops him in two.
The necromancer is unlucky and almost perishes when his fear spells fail to drive the frenzied barbarian away. Luckily for him, one spell takes hold and he runs.
The sword wielders (a third is found soon after battle begins), fight valiantly, and inflict serious wounds on the group. However, they are ultimately slain.
12:02 – With the dark ones here slain, the group turn to face another stairwell at the end of the chamber.
During the battle, the fog had flowed towards the stairs. Now it flows back in, and the group ready themselves as bestial roars and more footsteps approach...