Back outside, the heroes discussed how best to go back in and destroy the undead barrow wights and their self-proclaimed king. With their magic-arsenal at full-strength and armed as well as they were, it wasn’t long before they decided to just head back in and simply charge them.
With Alf leading the way, they made their way back through the tunnels and came into the large central chamber: but is was empty, the enemy had flown! Callum spotted tracks in the dirt and they followed them along another tunnel and back out through a barrow, and saw the tracks leading off into the forest. Leaving their faithful mule behind, they shouldered their supplies and hurried after the undead, determined to defeat them and get the feathered helm they had come for.
Without the burden of the mule, and following slower-moving undead, it wasn’t long until they had them in their sight, and headed straight towards them, weapons out. Jacob initiated combat by sending a well-aimed arrow speeding through the air, grazing one of the spear-wielding lizardmen, with another arrow from Ratkin’s bow joining it. Callum moved up, using the borrowed Ring of Many Colours to summon a shield, just in time to deflect the spear from the barrow wight that charged him.
The Barrow King yelled out an order for his men to kill their attackers, and got a couple of magic missiles in his face for his trouble. Then, the axe-wielding lizardman pulled out a war-horn and blow a harsh note: suddenly, the grass, vines and roots of the trees reached out and entangled Alf and Jacob, trapping them.
Jacob pulled free of the roots and charged the Barrow King, swinging his two-handed sword; the wight parried it with is own two-handed sword, the clang ringing out across the forest. Ratkin loose an arrow, but a vine whipped out and deflected the shot, and it went wide. Callum, now facing a wight and a lizardman, decided to ignore both and used the ring to blast the Barrow King with a ball of fire; he took a claw to his side for his trouble, and the cold aura surrounding the wight began to sap his strength. Alf pulled free too and went to help Callum.
Across the clearing Willow, taking a long way round, charged the third lizardman, jabbing it in the side and dodging its thrusting spear. The horn-using lizardman used the horn again, and the entangling roots shifted to grab Magnus and Ratkin.
Suddenly, out of the trees where it had been hiding, a ghoul leapt out, striking Jacob. Fortunately the warrior shrugged off the paralysis, but got swiped by the Barrow King with a chilling claw that drained some of his life-force, healing itself. The warrior swung back, but the Barrow King stepped aside, laughing.
His laughter was short-lived as Callum blasted him again, this time with a bolt of lightning, staggering the undead creature. Then its head exploded as Magnus pelted it with more magic missiles. The ghoul, seeing its master obliterated in front of him, withdrew.
The others saw nothing at first, and the wight caught a blow from Jacob as he attacked from behind, allowing Callum to strike it from the side, and then it fell as more magic missiles struck it. On the other side, Willow took out the lizardman he was fighting and charged as the leader carrying the horn; his spear thrust straight through his chest, killing him, and with the user gone, the entangling roots gave up and retreated back into the ground.
The remaining lizardman dropped his spear and surrendered, and Alf sent it packing, and it disappeared into the forest. The ghoul also tried to flee, but Magnus shot it down with a final burst of magic missiles.
They looted what they could, primarily the magical war-horn and the feathered helm, then burned the bodies. They found a place to camp for the night and decided to follow the old pathway to the Twin Watchtowers to check them out before heading to the ruined city to see if they could find the last statuette. It took them two more days of hiking through the forest, but then the trees began to thin out and a pair of low hillocks appeared, ruins of towers atop each, one with its lower floor still intact, the other nothing more than rubble. An overgrown path led between them.
The intact tower was covered in wooden dolls and puppets, hanging from hooks and string, rope and nails, all along the exterior walls. Willow used his Cloak of the Raven to scout out the area as a bird, finding the intact tower sporting stairs leading down, some wisps of smoke drifting out, and a pile of wood shavings along one side of the wall. No sign of anything else.
They decided to approach friendly-like, and called out as they reached the tower. A few minutes later an old man, hunched over and dressed in rags, hobbled up the stairs and bid them welcome.
And Magnus looked at him with his second sight and saw something…