The night was not going as we had hoped. Bórdegan led us south through the marsh.
He briefly considered turning west here to lose our traaldar pursuers under the thick canopy of Fal Nevis, but he quickly dismissed the thought. The Druids of Caerath N'Goria held sway over the entire island but that ancient forest was the very seat of their power — and that misunderstanding about the White Stag was still fresh. Better to face the trolls if it came to it.
We slogged on as fast as we could, trying to keep to the spotty bits of ground poking threw the fen. The plan was to make for the steep cliffs on the south coast and then turn west toward the ship. We can skirt the ancient wood that way and, hopefully, evade the monsters on our trail.
As if to say, "no," the storm worsened: pelting rain, biting wind, crackling thunderbolts. A savage cry cut through it all from behind us, and maybe around us? I think we were being flanked.
Bórdegan muttered a short prayer. Or possibly a curse.
As we emerged from the swamp and forded the River Faghren there was a deafening boom and the ground shook. All of us, including the trolls, struggled to keep our feet. A roaring thunderclap split the night and suddenly, limned from behind by a flash of lightning, loomed the silhouette of an enormous tower, just ahead.
That wasn't there a moment ago, was it? Bórdegan turned questioningly to Yarrin but the first mate shook his head in bewilderment, then a howl from the recovering traaldar roused everyone from their stupor. Bórdegan bellowed orders through the gale and the crewe scrambled up the muddied slope to the southern cliffs. The muck was thick but fear propelled us toward the tower.
Something cold and slimy covered parts of the door and jammed the hinges but we clawed it away. It took both Bórdegan and Yarrin to wrench the swollen, banded wood even a man's width wide, but that was enough. The captain hurried us through the opening and then slipped inside just as one of the traaldar clawed a bag from his belt. We heaved the door shut behind us and someone slammed the bar into place. Angry snarls and shouts breached the tower, but naught else.
We breathed a collective sigh in the dark. Then, the angry noises outside abruptly changed to howls of panic. For a moment there was a terrible sound of desperate battle and shrieks of terror, and then nothing but the sound of the storm. We strained to see each other in the blackness but the exhaustion of the past day found us all. Weary questions mingled with the growing sounds of sleep. "Where did this tower come from?" "What happened to the monsters outside?" And, "Were we safe inside?"
Like the rest of us, Bórdegan succumbed to fatigue. As he sank to the briny stone floor he looked at his hands and wondered aloud, "Was that seaweed befouling the door?"
Caer N'gor is an ancient tower that takes its name from its home, the island of Caerath N'Goria.