For a few hours the party debated the best way to proceed. Did they attend the Lady’s audience and possibly face accusation for what happened in the woods or did they attempt to sneak out of the Motte? Did they kill the beastly baby or protect it like Lucas wanted? Did they experiment with the crown or keep it safely in its chest? The final decision was to sneak out of the Motte with the baby but leave Lord Damon with the crown to attend the audience with Lady Locke-Glover.
The audience was brief and the Lady civil if a bit cold. Lord Damon consented to hear the accusations directly from Wyl Porther who had traveled from the wood to lodge his complaint. He said Lord Damon and his retinue were responsible for assault on himself and the murder both of the deformed Porther baby and also Matthar the woodsman, and wanted either reparation or a duel to satisfy his honor. After some carefully chosen words, Lord Damon decided to ignore the name calling from Jaremey, who seemed to only want blood, and help fund the restoration of the Scalded Raven Tavern. The young Lord carried himself honorably and Lady Locke invited him to join her group at dinner that evening.
Outside of the Motte Lady Lanna, Rolley, Lyle and captured Lucas made their way through the snowy woods and into the foothills. Lucas promised his wolves and bandits would not attack and held the monstrous baby close to his breast, keeping it warm under his fur cloak. He led them to the mine claiming to be able to sense the source of the crown.
The party climbed up burnt and ruined wooden scaffolding to the entrance of the mines, making their way over icy rocks and a sliding carefully across a frozen stream. They lit their lanterns and entered the dark mines. When they were some distance inside metallic knocks echoed through the chambers and a section of the tunnel collapsed. They spotted small, twisted dark men with picks who were scurrying about trying to bring down sections of the ceiling. The party chased and killed most of the creatures, startled to discover that their thick blood smoked and boiled when they were killed.
Further into the mines the party found natural caverns that opened wider into a large chamber. In the back was an exposed section of ancient wall with 3 stone corpses carved in standing positions. One of the statues had “PORTHER” recently carved above its head. Through a narrow opening Rolley discovered a smaller rear chamber that contained an ancient stone coffin which was partially open. Unable to contain his curiosity he held his lantern above the coffin and caught a glimpse of something terrible before an unnatural wind howled through the caverns and extinguished their lights.
In the darkness of the main chamber an eerie ghost emerged from the stone statue, gripping a solid military pick and moaning “Porther”. They tried to strike it, but their weapons passed harmlessly through its incorporeal body. Lanna re-lit her torch and thrust it in the ghost, but the flames had no effect. Lucas yelled to attack the weapon, and Lady Lanna connected with it solidly with her dagger. The ghostly warrior turned to face her and plunged the pick deeply into her chest, dropping her in a single blow.
Rolley warned everyone that he had seen something terrible in the other room, and leapt into the fight bringing his long sword down on the ghost’s heavy pick. The pick shattered and the ghost vanished with a final sigh of “Porther”. They quickly ran to Lanna’s fallen form and force-fed her the rest of the Poppy Milk the Maester had give them, saving her life before she slipped into darkness. Suddenly, in the narrow opening to the smaller chamber, they saw a tall figure through the flickering light of their freshly lit lanterns.
It was a cross between wolf and man, its ancient skin hanging in ribbons over exposed bone and its glowing red eyes burning brightly. Rolley panicked and fled in terror from the chamber, Lucas cried out “Master!” and held out the wolf baby in offering, and Lyle sighed and readied his massive great sword. The monster ignored Lyle and took the baby from the ecstatic Lucas, returning to his coffin with the small form in its arms.
Lyle followed the creature into the smaller chamber and plunged his great sword into the baby, cutting it in two. The monster opened its eyes and leapt out of the coffin, exposing fierce, bony claws. Lucas screamed in horror as he felt the baby’s life extinguished, and Rolley returned just in time to cut the Bastard down before he was able to run into the smaller chamber. Lyle did not fare well against the beast which was now in a frenzy, its ancient claws tearing again and again through Lyle’s armor and deep into his flesh.
After finishing off Lyle the monster turned and pointed a boney claw at Rolley, ordering him to “kneel” in a deep rumbling voice. Rolley stood frozen for a moment, looking at the bloody bodies of his companions strewn around the ancient cavern, then quickly turned and fled. He ran through the dark narrow mines, finally finding an unblocked exit and paused at the mine’s entrance.
Outside the sun dipped down behind one of the forested hills, thin light quickly fading from the snowy rocks. Inside the mines was a beast so terrible even Rolley’s doubting mind could not deny it. Inside the mines were his companions and friends, unconscious in the darkness with the beast, their blood oozing into the dirt. Rolley pulled his fur cloak around himself, trying to stop from shivering, turned his back on the mines and headed off into the snowy woods of the North.