By the time Zhenais, LaKota and Cyric had passed through Ascaril, the snow-pregnant clouds had drawn to reveal hints of a merciless blue sky beyond. Cold, tired and almost completed drained of their reserves, they were heartsick to turn their feet upon the remains of the south bound road, but they knew that with the day quickly fading there was little chance of their avoiding the city’s undead inhabitants and their reptilian foes. The truth was that if night fell and they were still withing the confines of the ancient port, their chances would become none and in all likelihood, they would join the necromantic guardians of the lost city.
With grim determination the sought to put as many miles behind them as possible before night fell. Near exhausted they reached the foot of the Iron Hills. Despite their falling short of whatever standard defined such things, this, the west-most portion of these uptrusions of granite, was called the Black Mountains and any who tried to cross them would argue rightfully so.
The road was unmaintained, but still provided an easy path through a countryside gone wild, and as you crested the last hill before you lost sight of the Ascaril, you thought you noticed movement near the edge of the ruins. Neither woman was willing to wager their lives on their luck changing and that it might be their lost comrades trying to catch up with them, so with leaden legs they pushed on. When necessary, they paused for short breaks, enough to keep them forging ahead but too little to leave them feeling anything but bone weary. Had it not been for Cyric and his vivomantic magics, they might not have been able to go on at all. Again and again he seemed to be able to refresh their reserves and allow them to find strength they were unaware they still had.
As the Sun raced toward the horizon, the sky ran red and gold and the temperature began to drop. LaKota spotted a cairn up ahead, standing sentinel like in the middle of the road. Close examination revealed it to be a pillar of granite, wrapped in vines and crowned with the skull of a large lizard man. Etched with eldritch runes, the cairn reeked of magic but Zhenais was unable to determine what unnatural purpose it served. The Runes weren’t ones she recognized but she suspected they were related to a primitive form of urak.
Finally as it seemed that whatever its enchantment, the skull posed no threat, they forged on ahead. By now the shadows were running long and their pace was reduced to a slow walk, but they forged on. The path turned downward and in the distance appeared a great chasm. Extending out of sight in either direction, it seemed impassible save for an ancient bridge that spanned the gap.
Pausing to prepare themselves, they spied a guard on the bridge as well as a small tent beyond. It was too far to make out any details save that they were man-sized and cloaked against the winter air.
Going back was not an option, going around seemed unlikely, so the plan was simple. Move across as fast as possible and strike if necessary.
The battle which followed was quick and bloody. The Guard on the bridge was a scaled goblin who shared the watch with a large wolf. Unfortunately the canine howled a challenge that brought forth a large number of goblins, both scaled and red, some with similar mounts. The battle would have gone badly if not for the timely arrival of some unexpected allies. Two Khazdain and a Syrivan charged down from the south and engaged the goblin hoard.
Even so it took every bit of Cyric’s magics to limit the casualties to the goblins and their allies. However, the day was won.
Standing amongst the carnage and basking in the healing aura of Cyrics vivomental, introductions were made.