Tarek Nev – The Royal Compound
Leaving the palace, the companions head for the nearest structure that they can recall from their brief flyover the city, their brief trek through the ruins is only disturbed by strange "clicking" noises to the north and east and though these are worryingly identified as some sort of bestial communication, the party reach what appears to be a small crypt unchallenged. Inside, they find three tombs, that have clever door opening mechanisms that are reliant on a counter-weight system. One of the doors has been forced apart and lies broken, a quick inspection reveals that this was done from inside. To no one's surprise, when Cran levers off the sarcophagus lid inside this chamber, there is no occupant. Sylke, is curious about the strange aromatic oil inside the urns and dabs a small amount on her skin. Placing a few oily drops on her neck, the mage almost collapses! The dangerous substance instantly drains away her remaining manna and she almost collapses.
The middle of the two chambers contains more urns but the sarcophagus is occupied. To their disgust, it is evident that the occupant tried in vain to claw their way out of this stone prison; smashed glass vials inside the sarcophagus contain more traces of the oil that Sylke discovered; she gingerly collects enough of the substance for two (carefully sealed) vials of her own.
The third chamber is different from the other two, over the lintel of the door, in Nureti is written:
"Who disturbeth the sleeping queen,
Thy luck lose, they skills fail
And join thy tormentor in the Black Hel"
Undaunted, Cran enters, followed by some of the others. The stone sarcophagus in this bare mausoleum is inscribed with the name "Kadaena".
On the far wall is an odd wooden door, concealed poorly, the door has six intricate locks. Above the door, in Nuretui again, "The way is open."
Sensing that though there could be items of power here but that a very great danger is present, Cherry uses Patience's fortune telling cards to try and catch a glimpse of the future should she manage to pick the locks and open the door. "Seeing" Sylke and then Cran vanish into a black portal is enough to persuade the party to retreat and perhaps save this area for further investigation to a later date!
The nearest large building to the palace still standing is about half an hours walk away and lies just outside the complex. Hugging the red stone wall that surrounds the compound, the party soon arrive at a featurless grey stone building, perhaps 60 feet across or so. Octagonal, so it seems, the high roofed building has a single door but no windows. The stone door opens with difficulty to reveal … a withered and dying woodland!
The trees are ancient, leafless and ash-grey. The ground parched, cracked and grassless. Grey mist fills the air and though the party can see some way off, perhaps hundreds of feet, the "wood" is empty of life, soulless. A stone dias, perhaps 100 feet across is positioned in front of the "door", perhaps 200 yards away. Cran walks down the stone steps and cautiously approaches. Six rusted iron thrones rest on the dias which is made of crumbling granite. Six black-armoured knights sit motionless but as Cran approaches, one of the middle figures raises a gauntled hand and points at the lip of the stone. Cran can see the names of comrades who have fallen in battle alongside the names (those that he can remember) of those he has slain. Soldiers, civilians alike, all are named. Cran's own name appears. Victor enters as well and he too is identified and named. With nothing obvious of any aid, Cran and Victor shudder and willingly withdraw from the awful place.
The last and perhaps smallest of the nearby structures that has escaped the ruin of the battle and siege of Tark Nev, is a small gazebo in gardens in the far north east of the royal compound. Rather than walking all the way around and back through the palace, the party carefully climb over a wall at the back of the grey building they have just investigated.
The gardens on the other side are deeply overgrown and lush but still clouded in the black floating miasma that fills the city. As the companions head towards some astonishingly well crafted sculptures, they hear the strange "clicking" noise again and a number of odd creatures suddenly appear. Humanoid, these tall, featureless creatures are covered with a greenish hide that resembles tight clothing. Their hairless heads are seemingly featureless though they all have a heavy bone brow. At first nothing happens and then suddenly the creatures, four of them, explode into motion! Unbelievably fast, they hurtle across the narrow garden windmilling their arms whenever they pause. These seem to fire awfully sharp and horribly poisoned bone discs! Engaging, the party struggle to keep the terrible predators at bay but eventually begin to turn the tide of the battle and then a fifth creature emerges. Larger, and equipped with some form of cold spell or power, this creature joins its two remaining comrades …