19th Samonios…

The others have been and gone to the temple a few times. I think Cumhu is sick, but I’ve been too busy to pay attention. I’ve barely put that book I found down. Waltin seemed to have been studying the Dragontorcs for a long time and has collected a lot of information about them. I didn’t understand a lot of his notes, but it looks like there used to a be a race of men ruled by the men who rode on the backs of dragons, commanded by the power of their torcs! He seemed to think one of the kings was buried in the tomb. There was a headless corpse in the main tomb. Perhaps it used to bear one of these necklaces. We need to go deeper. Imagine commanding the power of dragons!

20th Samonios…

Peno’s got a guest coming from Conwe. Lord Mori, cousin to the King. Too high born to be here searching for me, but I don’t want be around when he’s here. Peno wants us to provide security while he’s here. I’ll stick the shadows like I know.

He’s also got a missing shipment from his lumber camp in the north. The others want to investigate, but I’m not so sure. Peno pays us whatever we do, and the tombs are where the Dragon Kings are. We should be heading down again. Alas…

Later…

What a waste of time.

The men in the north are being tormented by forest spirits. Erix healed one who’d been riddled with masses of splinters, and we told them to chop the wood further out, before heading back with the missing shipment. Thankfully the others have seen sense, and we plan to head back to the tomb tomorrow.

21st Samonios…

It rained heavily today, making the passage down to the caves treacherous and slippery. I slid down, bruising my hip. The others lead me through familiar passageways to some newly explored ones. They had told me of some sort of abomination, made of the sown together bodies of the pale men. We found its lair a tiny room full of stinking pools of bodily waste. It reminded me of the slave pits, but far far worse.

Onwards, we entered a room were I found a section of loose stones. Pulling them out, I uncovered a narrow tunnel leading to another wall of loose stones. The room opened up into a large room with vaulted ceilings and a smaller walled section ahead, but Babar decided he wouldn’t fit through the tunnel, so we turned back, instead heading through a door barricaded from the outside by detritus. I told the others to leave it be, but they didn’t want to listen. Pulling apart the blockage, Babar lead the way.

The first thing I noticed was the stench of fresh blood. It brought flashes of a memory I wanted to forget, covered in blood. Who knew a man had so much blood in him… The room contained what looked like a strange kitchen of some kind, but covered floor to ceiling in wet blood. The others had ventured in more readily than I and hardly a moment had passed before Babar was shouting and swinging has sword about. He was fighting a cloud of blood, and for each blow he dealt to it, a cloud of blood poured from his skin to merge with the foul magic. Somehow, together we managed to disperse the cloud before it could take a life, but Babar looked pale and sickly after his ordeal. Thankfully it wasn’t all for nothing. The shelves were stocked with magic potions and a couple of poisons which I have kept for later. One can never be too prepared…

Amongst the potions was one to cause invisibility, or so Neve said. I pocketed that one, but gave the others to the group. Together we are stronger than the sum of our parts. I remember Erlend telling me that an age ago. I think I’m beginning to understand what he meant.

With the bloody room, we had reached another dead end, and so we headed back around, ignoring my hard won tunnel once more. Babar looked a lot skinnier after being drained, but the others wouldn’t be persuaded. Instead we continued on until we came to a pair of large bronze doors bearing a giant horned demon. A woeful sign, but through the doors we went, and beyond lay a room covered in wall carvings of great battles and dragon riders! We were going the right way. The Dragon Kings must have lived or died in these halls, and with them would be their treasure.

Just ahead stood a huge statue of a winged beast, and upon its head sat a crown, encrusted with rubies. Over its head was strung a rope. Someone else had tried to get that crown before us, but I wouldn’t be perturbed. There were some corpses of tiny creatures that the other recognised. They were strange hairy things, and they had apparently been flattened by something. That should have been a hint as to what was coming next. In fact I think the others took that hint, as they prepared for battle, but I did my part, climbing the ladder left behind. I hooked the crown in one swing of the grappling hook Erix had brought with her, but before I could pull it from the statue’s head, a stone fist had reached up to pull the rope from my hands. I wasted no time in retreating to the shadows, but the others ignored my protests and charged into battle. I didn’t expect any survivors, but the battle raged on, and soon there were cheers of success. The others took my behaviour for cowardice. Sense is not cowardice. I risked my life for that crown, but the others won’t let me near it. I think they’ve taken me for a thief, but when have I ever stolen from them? I’m sure they will see sense.

Behind where the statue once stood, was a large mural of some kind of star. The others recognised it as the one of the holy symbol belonging to the pale woman they have imprisoned in Peno’s tower. Perhaps this is the ancient religion of the Dragon Kings. I must find out more about it.

I’m glad I had paid attention to Killia’s tricks before he disappeared, because we came to a locked door, and the others all turned to me to open it. It was easier in practise than I remembered, even without the tools he’d used. Neve gave me a pin she used to hold her hair up, and in a moment, the door was open. Beyond stood a small statuette wearing the face of the horned demon on the large doors we entered through. On either side stood skeletons stripped of all their bones save their skull and spines. One of the magic users noticed their unnatural aura, not that anyone needed magic to tell then something was off with them.

We moved into the corridor and Neve blasted one of them with her magic and the strange construct slithered towards us, like a snake. Weapons swung in unison, and despite some of the blades glancing off the bones, they seemed to do some damage. That was until the creature began to writhe like the snake of a snake charmer I once saw in a market. It was strangely beautiful, but I tore my gaze from it. Many of the others seemed entranced, though. Only Babar, Erix, the boar and I were left to fight. The battle raged for what seemed like hours, though was more like minutes, but finally we emerged victorious. To the victor goes the spoils. We took the statuette and behind it lay a magical dagger. I wonder what fell ritual was once enacted in that room…

The next door opened with ease to reveal a great statue of a griffon. A plaque with another riddle was attached to its base, engraved in some ancient language, but one of the others seemed to be able to read it. The answer was obvious, and while the rest discussed what to do about it, I fired one of my arrows at the griffon. The head of the arrow sunk deep into its chest, and its head lifted up as if on a spring. Within was a finely crafted arrow. The others said it was enchanted with death magic, but they couldn’t say what effect it would have, which means it is powerful. I could see them looking to take it away from me. I don’t know why they don’t trust me, but I quickly tied it to my forearm. I won’t let them take all of the treasures for themselves. I had earned this one.

Babar looked about ready to collapse, so we headed back to town to rest, but not before salvaging the griffon statue and the glass vials and apparatus from the bloody room. On the way back, Cullen took me aside and handed me the magical dagger we had found. Perhaps they don’t all distrust me…

Editor’s Note: The journal ends abruptly here. From what I can gather from other sources, Catai met his end to falling rocks in a trapped tomb a few days later.