(The following is written in nordic runes using sticks of tavern charcol upon the pages of an old journal)
These words and beyond are those of Halfrandlit Hafrsteinsson. I know not who wrote those that go before. I took this journal from the hall which we burned and of which I will tell later. I shall write of our adventures here so if we can find no way home, our songs will be told by whoever finds it.
We have left our home the village of Westworth in Rawcliffe some 2 nights back. We chased frogling creatures that had stolen a babe deep into the black forest. My friends and 3 of our hirdmen tracked the creatures to a lair and slew most all their number. Vetralfur took the head of the huge toad creature they worshiped as a god before they could feed it the child.
Would it have been a simple matter to return whence we came but in our moonlit persuit we must have passed thru a fey gate in the woods. We found one such gate as we retraced our tracks which stopped at the bowed arch’s threshold. As light dawned we found ourselves to be in a land strange to us. Following a track thru the forest we came to the ruin of a great stone tower that we did not know. Noki climbed to it’s top but could see no sign of the coast, nor our village, nor marks of the land we might use to find our route back.
A basement to the tower seemed yet intact but we left it undisturbed, our need of food and milk for the rescued child greater than that for more adventure. A stream passed under the ruin and this we followed to a river and that in turn to what we took as a farm. We approached and meant to take what supplies we had need for but found a great number of corpses. Human, wolf, frogling and some a mix between all laid out around a statue of polished copper. I bid the others wait while I investigated for fear my goddess had taken them. But it was no pox or plague it seemed the only marks on each body were strange puncture wounds as tho pecked by some frenzied raven. One building was of stone and this we seized first for ease of defense lest some living force find us in the open. We found no defenders and the building was some small temple, it’s alter desecrated and riches looted but for one odd wooden figure it’s head shaped like a key.
The next building was a stable housing five fine horses, fed and watered yet no sign of owners. We left them tethered and came to the last building a huge hall of 4 floors. Inside it seemed to be a common house but finely furnished with much linen and glass and beds for some 40 men. Their kitchen and store rooms were empty of food and drink yet many glass bottles remained. This book, blankets, some musical writing and a strange magical birdcage were all that were worth to take. Vetralfur found a hidden message that led us to the cellar and therin a secret dungeon with shackles for slaves and cruel implements to cause them harm. Noki climbed to the roof and spied a flock of mosquito birds sleeping in the rafters each one’s beak like a dagger. It must be they that had slain all those laying dead outside so we lit a great fire under these evil birds and watched as the hall burned and them with it.
Of the bottles we took what we could pack into the horses bags and left the rest to the flames lest they fall into the hands of pirates. We will take the horses and ride inland upon the trail from this mean village. With luck we will find familiar lands or the means to feed the child before famine overtakes it.