It was a dark and stormy night. We were hunkered down for the night in the Green Briar Inn. Janus Grimble was there, glowering at us once again. I decided that he looked thirsty and ordered an ale for him.
Once again he refused. Before the ale could be returned to our table and be put to good use, Drogo Raveknott, local ne’er do well, grabbed the mug and quaffed it down.
I was about to object, but he offered to tell the tale of Sheriff George Grimble, Janus’s father who is now a disgraced spirit haunting the ruins of the abandoned Little Bear Inn. A new story is well worth the cost of a mug of ale.
Years ago, before the terrible orc raid, Sheriff George Grimble was dispatched to Concord by Lord Roderick Aurendel along with four diplomats and six bodyguards to Concord with a plea (and significant funds) for assistance against a predicted orc invasion (Corwyl had already declined to aide them). They were tasked with riding straight through but were forced to stop at the Little Bear Inn.
There they encountered Lord Illidris, a high elven diplomat. what happened after that is speculative, but Gellir and several other Briarton survivors arrived at the Inn and discovered George and his retinue, apparently drunk, with no memory of the last several
days. They executed all of them for desertion. George’s decapitated body was hung in a cage and left to rot.
George’s spirit, and those of his followers will not stay quiet. The inn stands abandoned.
While Drogo’s delivery of the story was rudimentary, the content of the story was fascinating. We knew we couldn’t leave a mystery like this unexplored, especially one so close to our doorstep.
We contemplated waiting until the storm passed to investigate, but there was no way I could wait that long. We considered waiting until the morning, since it was most of a day’s journey to the inn, but doing so might cause us to miss the arrival of Lieutenant Dol Rok to answer questions of his involvement with the theft of elvish heartwood. I don’t want to miss that. We set out immediately.
Earlier that night, Brash, Selly and I had a clan meeting. We wanted to express our appreciation to Squib for all the assistance he had rendered to the clan, and the best way I knew to do so was to declare him as murkhûn – shield brother. We explained this to him on the journey. He was characteristically gracious and humble in his acceptance.
Upon our arrival at the inn, Bron and Fin offered to reconnoiter the perimeter, and I agreed that they should. While they were doing so I examined the corpse displayed near the entrance. It was in a gibbet, and significantly more robust that I expected a fifteen year old corpse to be.
While I was contemplating this revelation, Bron returned from his perimeter reconnaissance and the corpse of Sheriff George Grimble suddenly began to emit such a blue streak of Elvish expletives the air almost seemed to shimmer in its wake.
Fin had returned by this point, and attempted to assuage George, but merely redirected his ire. The stream of Elvish invectives continued unabated at Fin. We decided that we should investigate the interior of the inn.
Murkhûn Squib took the lead entering the inn, and as the rest of us followed we were swarmed by bats. While we were defending ourselves, some sort of Brachipposideros also joined the melee.
I began the song of heroes and engaged the dire bat with bolts of arcane force. The others concentrated their attacks upon the dire bat as well, and it soon attempted to flee. Sully used his beard to entangle the beast and prevent its escape. The normal bats did flee while we dispatched the beast.
A survey of the large entrance room revealed a series of nooses above the bar, and a large number of bones scattered about. We gathered the bones, so that we could bury them. We decided to finish the collection of the remains before we started digging, since it was so rainy out.
We headed up the stairs to explore the upper level of the inn. While we were still on the stairs, two groups of skeletons attacked us. The bones we had just collected downstairs comprising one group, and another set at the top of the stairs.
These skeletons seemed intent on killing us in the same way their lives had ended, they each wielded a spectral noose and used it to strangle their foes: us.
Once again, I performed the song of heroes, and this time I blended in a battle chant to assist my allies in extricating themselves from the nooses their attackers entangled them with. I successfully enabled Murkhûn Squib do exactly that.
Suddenly a surge of holy light erupted from Selly and engulfed the skeletons before him. Two of the skeletons disintegrated utterly. I was so dazzled by the display that the group of skeletons behind me were able to successfully lasso me with their nooses.
We were able to dispatch more and more of the skeletons, I luckily had filled the bladder of the bagpipes at the beginning of the song of heroes, so I was able to continue it whilst being strangled. I had to use my axe to dispatch my foes, and disentangle myself from their nooses.
Unfortunately, there were just too many nooses for me to extricate myself entirely, and I wavered in and out of consciousness. My persistence was distracting enough to allow my allies to finish the others and while no one was unscathed we were all standing at the end of the battle.
We searched the upstairs and found an attaché containing Sheriff George Grimble’s original orders. As we exited the inn, George became supremely agitated, throwing himself against the bars and lunging for the attaché. I lowered his cage and released him. While I did so the skeletons we had just dispatched existed the inn as a team of spectral
horses arrived, which they then mounted.
While they waited, George frantically motioned to us to follow him and he led us to a nearby forest where the coin he’d been entrusted with was sealed in the bark of a tree. One axe blow and it all came pouring out. We collected it as George mounted his steed and with a cry of “For Briarton!” he and his retinue raced off towards Corwyl faster than any mundane horse could hope to match, much less a group of weary dwarves on foot.