18th Day, 12th Month of 526 AF

OOC: Once again these come from Shimmin’s notes, with corrections added by myself for the avoidance of confusion.

Having prepared ourselves with blunt weapons and holy water, the party return to the corridor of mystical archways. We decide to look into the other archways, as the skeletons aren’t doing anything. Vaclav speaks the command word for the doorway of sleep; it reveals a dead end. Only the skeleton chamber is left.

We talk a lot about the effects of the field. It re-establishes itself after three minutes or so, so what if we’re inside when it returns? But Vaclav decides it’s safe enough, though he might nip out early to reopen the field. The warriors and Vana will enter first and form a line; the others will throw holy water and loose bolts from comparative safety.

We move in purposefully, and ready weapons. The skeletons turn, and advance in silent, faceless menace. Their surprisingly speedy advance and vile appearance disconcerts us; Vana is badly slashed by a set of festering claws, before Vavlac lands a phial of holy water square in the creature’s bony face. It and its neighbours collapse within seconds, their bones melting away to nothing. Scabbard hurls another into the fray with less success. The field in the doorway flickers back into existence.

“Back, foul beasts of the abyss!” cries Vaclav, hurling his second phial into the throng.

Though mostly they’re protected by heavy armour, one claws open Oswyn’s face and mouth, rendering him even more incomprehensible. Vana, shieldless, is badly wounded and frantically calls the Smith for protection; the skeletons suddenly falter in their attacks, and turn towards Oswyn and Scabbard instead. Crossbow bolts thunk into bony forms, but they don’t appear to notice.

Badly injured, we decide to fall back. The magical field in the arch restores itself.

“Well, that was a close battle! Dangerous foes, these skeletons!”

Only then do we realise that Scabbard could have slipped in with all the holy water, under a Spider Climb spell, and just bombed them from overhead. Now we don’t have enough.

There is extensive debate about the best thing to do. Oswyn suggests exploiting their mindlessness; stepping inside, loosing a slingshot and stepping back to wait for them to resume their positions. Eventually though, it’s decided that one of the warriors at a time will block the doorway while the others use missile weapons.

Vaclav intones the words again to lift the veil; a bell that only he can perceive rings six times.

“That’s… a little worrying,” he says quietly.

Jack steps forward, hunched up with shield and helmet ready to hold the line. As the skeletons surge forward to mob him, Scabbard tosses the last phial into the air and drops it directly in the centre of the mob. Blue-white fire flashes, and steam erupts from the skeletons; most disintegrate at once. The last few smoulder and limp clumsily onward. Vana curses as her attacks go astray, the baleful influence of the Tyrant here continuing to suppress her ability to call on the Smith’s aid. After much fumbling and grumbling, Jack finally gets the hang of his new morningstar. Though he suffers a couple of nasty wounds, the concentrated fire brings down the last of the skeletons. They are deceased – again. Receased. Ceased.

Scabbard steps quietly inside and searches very carefully for traps. Two doors on the far wall show scenes of Guilt and Innocent verdicts; both turn out to be false. Their handles appear to trigger trapdoors directly underneath. Carefully opening them reveals a very deep hole. This in itself is enough to suggest the statue must be the Tyrant; the Burning Judge would never stoop to deceit, but simply always finds a way to prove guilt.

The statues are old and of good craftsmanship. The armour of the queen’s statue is dented and battered, as though it has suffered abuse over the years. It has been graffitied with accusations of many vile crimes.

Repelled by the statue, Vana asks the others to help her topple it. Jack and Oswyn help heave it over, while Scabbard stands between it and Vaclav in case of traps.

Beneath it is a hollow containing a box. There is writing on it in a strange version of the Shining Tongue; it conflates words about fines with those of theft or fraud. A sort of “fraudulent fine”. Vaclav decides it must be a term for bribe; in the Shining Tongue you can’t use words for crimes with those for the actions of Executioners in the same phrase, there is always enforced separation.

“I think this says ‘bribe’. Would you take a look at it?” he says to Scabbard. Scabbard judges it safe to move, and then begins to open it. The others withdraw rapidly. Inside, though, there is only a quiver of arrows. How very odd.

Vaclav suggests trying the statue of the queen. There’s some dispute as to whether this is a good idea, seeing the injuries to Vana and Jack. Vana examines both statue and pedestal without finding any sign of traps. We agree to move it. We heave the statue out of the dock, and as we place it down on the ground, as the sound of a tolling bell rises slowly from the open trapdoor.

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