Nightrealms Carrion Crown

April 15th, 2012 XP
Encounter Type XP
Giant Tarantula Combat 4,800
Weaverworm Combat 4,800
Total 9,600
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 8 – 51,000xp)
Ryszard 48,575 Paladin 7
Haza 40,842 Cleric 7
Torquemada 47,325 Inquisitor 7
Lashmar 48,033 Magus 7
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Broken Moon

Gozran 3rd, 4711

Aftermath

With the presumed death of the Aberrant Promethean, the Beast quickly returned to the tower room below, tearing off the metal bands trapping his “Father” – Count Alpon Caromarc – inside the iron maiden. The Count slumped weakly into the arms of his creation, who gently carried him to a nearby chair.

As the party tended to the Count, he thanked them for freeing him and defeating the Promethean. He went on to explain that he had been trapped by agents of the Whispering Way, who had used his devices – the Storm Caller and the Bondslave Thrall – to control the Beast and use him to break into the University of Lepidstadt and steal the idol known as the Seasage Effigy.

Haza questioned the Count, asking how the Whispering Way had managed to get past the formidable defenses of Schloss Caromarc. The Count balked at this, but finally admitted that he had invited them. He had crossed paths with the cult before, under different circumstances, and when they recently contacted him asking to meet and exchange “mutually beneficial” information on some areas of research, Caromarc invited them to attend him at his home. Unfortunately, their ruse was quickly cast aside once they had gained entrance, and they overpowered him and took control of the manse – trapping him in the iron maiden and leaving him there to die slowly as they retrieved the Effigy with the Beast and left immediately thereafter.

At this point, a small, flying, green-skinned humanoid appeared out of thin air and perched on Caromarc’ shoulder, whispering in his ear. Caromarc’s explained that the small creature was his homunculus Waxwood, and that Waxwood had overheard the cultists talking in hushed tones about the Shudderwood – a dark forest to the south and east of Schloss Caromarc. Caromarc suspected that the cultists may have been heading for Ascanor Lodge, since that was the only island of civility in the deadly depths of the forest. Caromarc went on to mention a trail called the Silent Path – an ancient hunting trail through the Shudderwood, now little more than a memory marked in places by strange bone fetishes. Caromarc said he often used the trail himself when he was younger and had more
energy to seek out rare plants and toxins, and that one could access the old trail about a mile downstream from Schloss Caromarc.

Torquemada pulled the group aside after this revelation, and a passionate discussion ensued, with Haza pushing to take the Count back to Lepidstadt to pay for his part in the crimes committed at the University. Ryszard, Torque, and Vincent all agreed, but wanted to allow the Count to preserve some of his dignity, so approached him directly and asked him to turn himself in to answer for his crimes.

The Count considered the point. But before he was willing to agree, he wanted to know what the party intended to do now that they knew what had really happened with the involvement of the Whispering Way? Torque responded that they would continue to follow the Whispering Way, discover what their plans were, and put an stop to whatever they intended to do.

With a look of relief, the Count acquiesced to their demands, and promised that he would return to Lepidstadt as soon as he was able to travel and seek out Judge Daramid to turn himself in. He asked for paper and pen to write a letter to the Judge, and also drafted a letter of credit to the Bank of Lepidstadt – a 4,500gp reward for the brave adventurers who had saved his life and who were now seeking to end the evil of the Whispering Way.

The group helped the Count return to the safety of his manor house, stopping along the way to bring along the Magus Lashmar, who was still recovering from his own ordeal at the merciless hands of the Whispering Way.

The group decided to spend the night in the comfort of the manor house and return to the city of Lepidstadt in the morning, taking the Count’s letters with them. Lashmar asked to join them on their journey, as he also had business in the City, and had lost all of his possessions to the Whispering Way cultists.

The group readily agreed, and set out early the next morning to make the trek back through the hills and fens to Lepidstadt. The Beast was beside himself, and promised that if his friends ever needed his help, he would be there for them as they had been there for him. Grimacing (crying), he bade them farewell, and watched silently as they rode their horses up from the gates and over the hill, heading back to civilization.


Gozran 5th, 4711

Orders from the Order

The Purple Stallion was a welcome sight after two days of dreary rain-soaked travel on the road from Schloss Caromarc to Lepidstadt. After claiming some rooms for a few days, the party went directly to the townhouse of Judge Daramid. The aged butler Johns answered the door, informing the group that the Judge was indisposed for the evening, but that she would be available for appointments in the morning. There was nothing left to do but to return to the inn for the night, although everyone agreed that a stop at the Bank of Lepidstadt was called for first.

Back at the Stallion, there was a parting of ways as Vincent announced his intention to return to Ravengro. While he appreciated his time with the party, his preference for adventure was for those not quite as perilous as had been recently encountered. It was a bittersweet parting, but a few rounds of ale soon took that edge off.

The invitation was waiting for Torquemada the next morning as he arose – a meeting with Judge Daramid at 9:00 sharp. He woke Haza and Ryszard and soon they were sitting in the sitting room at Judge Daramid’s townhouse. Perhaps not surprisingly, Lashmar was already there, having received a similar invite from the Judge.

And then Embreth was there, looking regal and commanding as always. She inquired as to the events that occurred at Schloss Caromarc, listening intently as she perused the Count’s letter that Torquemada had handed her. She asked what the party’s intention was, and seemed to smile ever-so-slightly when they all spoke out about their desire to track down the Whispering Way cultists and put an end to their machinations – whatever they may turn out to be.

At this point, she asked Lashmar to recite his tale, and once completed, asked everyone to wait while she retrieved something.

That something turned out to be bags of platinum Falcons.

“Payment for your services in helping the Count, and a down payment for your assistance in tracking down the agents of the Way.”

The Judge went on to ask Lashmar if he wanted the chance to get back at his attackers and possibly retrieve his possessions – basically asking him if he would be willing to join the party in their quest, and he readily agreed.

She went on to explain that she had been in contact with the Count through other means, and had a number of blank invitations on hand that would grant the party access to Ascanor Lodge. Perhaps there they would be able to pick up the trail of the Whispering Way.

Having been given their marching orders, the party excused themselves and made their preparations to depart for the Shudderwood and Ascanor Lodge.


Gozran 9th, 4711

Dangers in the Night

Schloss Caromarc stood silent and seemingly abandoned as the party passed the buildings on their way to the dark forest looming ahead. As the Count had said, the entrance to the Silent Path was easy to find, and soon the group was slowly wending their way deeper into the dense, ancient trees.

In the twilight beneath the Shudderwood’s boughs, craggy hills, steep-edged chasms, and rushing streams formed a deadly, darkened realm of predators. Werewolves and their ilk accounted for only a portion of the Shudderwood’s dangers—and a small one at that. Although lycanthropes undeniably stalked the woodlands, their territories stretched primarily throughout the forest’s heart and eastern edges, leaving the north—and its storied bottomless pits—to chittering tribes of ettercaps and other arachnid monstrosities. Yet supernatural dangers paled in comparison to the wolf packs, giant hunting spiders, and black bears that preyed upon the Shudderwood’s robust populations of scrub boar, river trout, crow pheasant, beaver, and black deer.

However, as this day passed, no silent threat emerged from the thick woods to menace the party, and as dusk began to fall on the companions, they began to wonder why this forest had such a foul reputation.

Watches were set and dinner made, and soon the party was fast asleep, dreaming into the dark night.

It was on Ryszard’s watch that the forest’s terrors materialized. There was a sudden thrashing in the trees, as branches could be clearly heard bending and snapping as something massive moved through the woods, apparently making straight for the party’s camp. Ryszard quickly roused the party, who grabbed weapons and turned to meet the intruder.

And found themselves staring up into eight giant compound eyes, as a giant tarantula came scuttling out of the trees, splintering wood heralding it’s rush toward it’s newly-found prey.

The spider stood well over ten foot tall, and its massive mandibles dripped with thick black venom. It continued it’s hungry rush, quickly snapping at Torquemada and Haza as the party attacked the enormous arachnid with spells and weapons. The mindless vermin continued it’s attack, even as beams of searing light set the hairy monster afire while it skittered amongst the adventurers.

Finally, the combined might of the party proved too much even for the gargantuan spider, and it collapsed upon itself, it’s tree-trunk thick legs spasming in the throes of death. The stench of burnt hair and flesh filled the camp, forcing the party to pack up and move before the smell attracted other predators from the depths of the dark forest.


Gozran 10th, 4711

The Weaverworm

Fortunately, the rest of the night passed uneventfully. As the party set out the next day, a light mist rose amongst the trees, masking the ground and muting the sounds of the forest. All were on edge after the encounter with the giant tarantula the night before, but as the morning wore on, nothing threatened the party. Once again, a hush seemed to have settled over the forest, though this time the group knew this was only temporary. Danger still lurked amongst the trees and was only biding it’s time.

It was early afternoon when Torquemada called a halt to the march. The forest around the path had thinned, and a brisk crosswind scattered concealing drifts of pine needles across the trail. If not for the shallow grooves left behind by the wheels of occasional traveling wagons, following the path would have been nearly impossible. Torque stood motionless, observing the surrounding trees, and then came back to the group, speaking in a low whisper.

“Creatures in the trees,” he warned. “I think they are ettercaps.”

Ettercaps. Hideous purple creatures that walked upright like a man, but with a face like that of a spider, and with hands that ended in sickle-shaped claws.

“They’re usually solitary creatures, but it looks like there are at least 3 or 4 of them waiting for us to pass by. Maybe I should split off and try to circle around them?”

The others agrees with Torque, and watched as he walked off the trail into the trees, moving slowly and disappearing into the foliage.

Torque took a long, looping path around the ambush site, but as he made his way back toward the trail, he could no longer spy the ettercaps. Cautiously, he reexamined the area, but there was no sign of the creatures. Finally, he stood up in plain view and walked back onto the trail, tensed for action. Still nothing happened.

Finally, he waved the rest of the party over and started to search the area for clues. He confirmed at least four ettercaps had been lying in wait, but they all seemed to have retreated further along the trail. As he cautiously followed their tracks, he espied a few silver and gold coins lying in the middle of the trail, obviously dropped by the ettercaps as lures.

The party discussed this, and decided that for whatever reason, the ettercaps had abandoned their original ambush plan. Whatever their plans now, it would occur further down the trail, so they would press on and see what happened next.

About a half mile further, the soft, haunting melody of a harp drifted through the air, emanating from a ruined stone watchtower in a small clearing. The tower stoods about three stories tall; blood ivy and grayish-green lichen blanketed the stonework of the tower’s crumbling exterior, while passing winds whistled softly through its darkened, gaping windows.

Suddenly, Torquemada started walking purposefully towards the tower, ignoring the others’ questions as he strode forward. Haza jogged forward to grab his arm, but he shrugged him off and continued walking to the tower. Only now, Lashmar and Ryszard had joined him! All three continued into the tower, and Haza could only rush after them trying to get their attention.

Long, taut strands of shimmering silk filled the ruined tower’s interior, forming an intricate pattern running from floor to ceiling. Half a dozen large cocoonlike shapes hung from the ceiling, suspended above the tower’s hard-packed dirt floor. In the far corner, between two larger chunks of rubble, a wide burrow opened into the ground.

As the party entered, the weird harp-like music suddenly stopped, and Haza watched as Ryszard, Torque, and Lashmar seemed to shake off their trance, looking around surprisedly. Torque moved slowly forward and investigated one of the cocoons, cutting it open to reveal the grisly remains of a human hanging upside down.

And then, from the burrow, a creature with the head and flayed torso of a giant woman atop the bulbous body of a sickly-looking, multi-legged larva rose.

Weaverworm

The creature, known as a weaverworm, moved forward and slashed at Torquemada. It’s long, hooked nails tore and broke off, lodging in Torquemada’s flesh, and he felt his limbs grown heavy and leaden.

The leadenness deepened. He was paralyzed!

Lashmar and Ryzsard had recovered from the strange trance earlier, and joined Haza in attacking the hideous aberration as it turned its attention to the paladin and cleric. Ryszard also fell prey to the monster’s paralyzing nails, while Torquemada could only struggle unsuccessfully to overcome his own paralysis.

Finally, though, the creature began to give ground under the unrelenting attack of the party, and turned to flee only to be cut down in furious anger by Haza. The weaverworm lay dead, and soon its paralyzing venom began to wear off. The party was badly battered, but the power of Sarenrae soon flowed through Haza, mending flesh and bone, if not the spirit of the brave adventurers.

The party examined the strange creature and continued to search the cocoons, but nothing of value was found – only more desiccated corpses of men, goats, and a horse. The only thing left to do was to investigate it’s underground burrow.

Soft webbing wreathed the walls, ceiling, and floor of the subterranean chamber. Several lumps bulged outward along the floor, unidentifiable under layers of sticky webs.

A careful search through the lumps of webbing revealed the weaverworm’s treasure, gathered from her victims:

  • a potion of heroism
  • a ring of feather falling
  • a magical shield +2
  • 721 gp in assorted coins

Also amongst the corpses was found a blood-covered sealed envelope. Inside was a letter that seemed similar to the invitation letters the party had received for Ascanor Lodge, but was so blood-soaked and smeared as to be illegible.

Having fully recovered from this strange encounter, the party climbed back to the surface. They retraced their way back to the Silent Path, once again following the trail further into the depths of the dangerous and mysterious Shudderwood.

Ascanor Lodge lay ahead.

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Lashmar's Tale
"You look trustworthy..."

A run-in with the merchants lords of Druma ended with an ambush by members of that country’s Mercenary League, leaving Lashmar the Magus the only survivor of his Pathfinder team. Evading the elite death squads, he hastily found passage on the next vessel leaving the port city of Kerse, and found found himself wandering the streets of the city of Caliphas, off Lake Encarthan, in the Principality of Ustalav.

After dispatching a messenger to the Pathfinder Lodge, he took stock of his situation and realized that he was near coinless, so opted to find some means to provide a living while he figured out what to do next.

While reading notes on a message post one day, he was approached by a middle-aged, balding man who introduced himself as Thrain of Pharasma. Thrain had noticed that Lashmar seemed to be looking for work, and if so, the priest wondered if the role of messenger were beneath him?

Lashmar assured him it was not, and Thrain explained that he had an important message that needed to be delivered to a Judge Daramid in the city of Lepidstadt, far to the northwest. He offered the sum of 100gp, as the message was urgent and the terrain not without danger, with a promise of a further 100gp from the Judge upon delivery of the message. Was he interested?

200 gp to deliver a scroll tube?

Yes, he was interested.

Arrangements were made for Lashmar to leave the next day, as he accompanied Father Thrain back to the Temple of Pharasma and received the scroll tube and his initial payment. After a good night’s rest, Lashmar headed northwest up the Path river, traveling through the principalities of Caliphas, Amaans, Canterwall, and Lozeri, skirting the Shudderwood and arriving a few nights ago near Schloss Caromarc.

Having traveled long and hard, and with a cold rain coming from the north, Lashmar sought shelter at the castle, but once he was admitted to the gatehouse, was set upon by black-robed clerics and burning skeletons. He fought valiantly, but soon lay unconscious at the hands of the mysterious group.

He was dimly aware of being carried over water and through rooms, but only came to in complete darkness. He was without his gear, but was soon able to discern that he had been walled up in some sort of small room, with no water, food, or air supply. He knew that he would not last long…

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April 1st, 2012 XP
Encounter Type XP
Leech Swarm Trap (2) Combat 2,400
Girallon-Headed Vargouilles (3) Combat 2,400
Basidirond Combat 1,600
Violet Fungi (2) Combat 1,600
Drowned Guards Trap(4) Combat 3,200
Guardian of the Tower Combat 4,800
The Aberrant Promethean Combat 12,800
Total 28,800
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 8 – 51,000xp)
Ryszard 46,175 Paladin 7
Haza 38,442 Cleric 7
Torquemada 44,925 Inquisitor 7
Lashmar 45,633 Magus 7
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Homecoming

Gozran 3rd, 4711

The Five Towers

The exposed, winding, narrow pathway that climbed the bare rock face to the series of towers above had no handrails or guide ropes. The party took the steep ascent cautiously, lest one of them slip off of the narrow ledge and plummet into the surging waters over a hundred feet below.

The path ended after about 80 feet at a small stairway that descended 10 feet to a recessed iron door. The door had a patina of rust, and the reason became apparent when Ryszard finally forced the door open and a gush of water came pouring out in a steady stream about a foot high.

Passing within, the group found themselves in a flooded corridor. The water continued swirl around their feet and out the door, and showed no signs of decreasing in volume anytime soon. A stairwell directly ahead led up a few feet before unexpectedly ending in a heap of boulders and twisted supports. That way was clearly blocked, although the corridor extended into the distance on either side.


The Drowned Guards

The party chose to head down the eastern section, Torquemada taking the lead and probing for traps. His caution paid off as the corridor turned to the north, as his foot found no purchase at that junction. Vincent moved up and probed the dark water with his polearm, and indeed, there apparently was a pit of sorts hidden in the water before them. Then his lucern hammer was almost pulled from his grasp, as something had seized it in the watery pit below. Vincent pulled his weapon free with a surge of strength, as two figures burst from the water, lunging forward and pulling Torquemada with them into the unknown depths of the pit.

The water was dark and murky, but Torquemada could see that the figures grappling him were not human. At least not any more. These barnacle-encrusted walking corpses looked like zombies, but is dripping with water had given off a nauseating stench.

Draugr then.

Torque struggled mightily as two more draugr appeared above and menaced the party. Haza called upon the power of Sarenrae to blast the undead with searing light as Vincent plunged his polearm through the torso of one of the scorched monsters. Ryszard dropped his bow, grabbed a dagger and plunged into the water after Torquemada. Torque was able to wriggle free and joined in with Ryszard to battle the undead in the water, while their companions finished off the draugr above.

Swimming over the watery trap, the party regrouped on the other side, and moved forward through an iron door to the north. Past it was a large, round room. This circular chamber was empty save for dark water. Two doors sat high up the walls to the north and west, while one sat opposite the entryway on the same level.

Torque once more tested the water and found the the floor dropped off precipitously in front of them, with no easy way of telling how deep the water was further into the room.

As they deliberated how to pass this obstacle, Torquemada noticed something moving slowly through the water. It was decidedly hard to see, but he could make out the shape of two reptilian eyes staring at him. As as he met its gaze, he felt his heart slow a bit. His limbs felt heavy and his thoughts became slow. It was only with a great effort of will that he was able to avert his gaze and avoid a gruesome fate.

He recognized those eyes – they were the eyes of a basilisk. It’s very gaze could turn a man to stone, and it clearly laired in this chamber.

Torque warned the others of the silent threat in the waters, and all retreated carefully back into the southern hallway, closing the iron door behind them. They retraced their steps and attempted the western portion. Torque stopped the group as the corridor turned north, fearing another pit trap. He was much relieved when he could find no trace of one, and moved on.


The Pit of Leeches

It came as quite a surprise then as he stepped forward and the floor beneath his feet collapsed, plunging him into another pit full of water. This time no dead hands clutches at his flesh. Instead, darkness swirled around him in the water, as a host of tiny surging leeches swarmed upon the hapless inquisitor. Torquemada reeled under their assault, as the vermin attached themselves all over him, drinking deep of his lifesblood.

Torquemada was able to leverage himself out of the pit, but the leeches still swarmed over his body. Haza apologized to Torquemada for what was about to happen, and then fire sprayed from his fingertips as he cast burning hands on the swarms, and unfortunately, Torquemada also. The others joined in as best they could, and soon the countless bodies of dead leeches floated away in the lazy current leading outside.

Having suffered a tremendous loss of blood to the ravenous vermin, Torquemada called for a break and used his wand of lesser restoration to reccover most of his stamina. The group crossed over the pit and emerged in the northern hallway.


Descended from Apes

The northern corridor also was blocked by iron doors, which opened under protest to reveal another circular room beyond. A rotting stench filled this room, coming from a trio of headless, apelike creatures inside heavy iron cages – girallons, Torquemada offered. The waters lapped against these corpses, while the twisted remnants of an iron walkway lay half-submerged in the water. Two doors sat high in the north and east walls, thirty feet above the floor, while one sat to the north opposite the doors they had entered.

Vincent took point, moving forward through the waters, probing with his polearm. He had made it 2/3 of the way across the chamber, when a piercing scream echoed from the dark reaches of the ceiling somewhere above.

Three creatures with the deformed heads of large, horned, fanged gorillas – with tentacles dangling from chin and scalp – flew down and attacked the fighter. Torquemada recognized the other plane horrors as vargouilles, evil fiends with a terrible attack that would turn those infected by it into vargouilles themselves.

The girallon-headed vargouilles shrieks had paralyzed Vincent, and everyone watched as one of the hideous monsters hovered before him, moving forward to plant an-almost gentle kiss on Vincent’s lips – before plunging it’s stinking tongue deep into the helpless warriors mouth! The party surged forward, arrows, spells, and blades seeking the blood of the hideous outsiders. The one making out with Vincent was struck down in a flurry of arrows, and Vincent was finally able to throw off the effects of the paralysis as the other two vargouilles were brought low also.

Luckily for the fighter, he did not appear to have been infected by the vargouilles hideous kiss, and the group was able to reach the next door without further incident.


The Infestation

The room beyond seemed to be infested with various fungi that cling to every surface. The broken remains of an iron walkway jutted from the water, also now infested with fungi. Two doors stood high up on the walls to the east and south directly above where the party stood. Torquemada surveyed the room, and was startled to see a number of fungi that appeared to be mobile – identifying a basidirond and violet fungi. Both were semi-sentient plants and would most certainly be hostile toward the party. Now, it became a choice between facing the fungi or returning to fight the basilisk.

The group chose to press forward, and arrayed themselves in formation for the assault on the fungi. Vincent moved forward and opened the door, retreating back to his place to await the slow-moving fungi.

However, these fungi were not slow moving. Surging into the room, the basidirond rushed at Torquemada, a cloud of spores bursting from its body. Haza screamed and turned to flee from the undead fiends that once had been his friend and companions, while Ryszard froze in place, believing himself to be only a few inches tall and in danger of being sqaushed by everyone.

Torquemada and Vincent cornered and cut down the basidirond, only to have to contend with the violet fungi now entering the room. Vincent was struck by one of their tentacles, but luckily was not infected by its rotting enzymes. As the last fungi fell, Ryszard snapped out of his stupor, and all were left wondering where Haza had gone.

Retracing their steps, Torquemada was able to follow the trail left by Haza – it disappeared back up the corridor and outside to the narrow trail, where it appeared that in his haste, he had slipped off the side of the cliff and fell into the river waters far below…


A Cask of Lashmarado

Realizing that there was nothing further they could do for Haza at that point, the group returned to the tower complex, retracing their steps back to the fungi room, where Vincent was able to climb up to the door high up on the eastern wall. It opened into a short corridor, while a nearby alcove held some items on a small ledge. Vincent threw down a rope and helped Torque and Ryszard make the ascent, before they turned their attention to the items found:

  • potion of nondetection
  • wand of charm monster with 44 charges.

Taking the corridor east, Torquemada was faced with a curious stone door, when he head a faint knocking on the wall to his left. He motioned for quiet as he bent ear to the stone, and could hear the sounds continuing. Something was on the other side of the wall. Ryszard knocked against the wall, and everyone could hear the responding knock from the other side. Two knocks by Ryszard – and two knocks in return. Torquemada tried shouting and again listened for an answer. He heard a voice in the common tongue say “Help me. I’m trapped in here and running out of air.”

The section of wall appeared to be solid and old, yet clearly was made of different stone than the rest of the corridor. Torquemada could detect a faint aura of transmutation magic coming from it also.

The group debated what to do, considering whether or not it was a trap, but Ryszard settled the matter by blasting the wall with the ring of ram, knocking a hole in it. Beyond could be seen a small room seemingly carved out of the stone, and a battered and bruised man lying limply within.

As they helped the man from his makeshift prison, he introduced himself as Lashmar, a traveler from south Ustalev who had been waylaid by robed figures and undead monsters as he sought shelter for the night at Schloss Caromarc. Lashmar appeared wounded, dehydrated, and exhausted, so the party left him some rations as they remained determined to answer the mystery behind the deserted castle once and for all.

Once again, Torquemada faced the stone door. Opening it revealed another circular room, and if the calculations were correct, this one was directly north of the basilisk chamber.

Other than the two stone doors high on the walls, this room seemed bare save for the dark waters covering the floor.

Nothing stirred in the room, so Torquemada closed the door and the group returned to the fungi room to try the next series of upper passages.

The middle passage also had an alcove, this one containing:

  • potion of displacement
  • potion of gaseous form
  • two vials of alchemically preserved basilisk blood

This corridor continued to run east, clearly beyond the confines of the four towers in this part of the complex, but before continuing that way the party also investigated the southernmost upper passage. This passage had no alcove, but did have the upper portion of the collapsed stairwell originally seen when entering the complex.

The party returned to the middle passage and headed east, emerging through another iron door upon a bridge. This grand stone bridge arched over the gorge to a stack of rock onwhich perched a high tower topped with a lightning rod. The bridge had no handrails and was barely 3 feet wide, but seemed to be solid and stable.

There was nothing to do but to press onward, and the party slowly traversed the bridge.


The Lightning Tower

The party now stood at the foot of a great stone tower perched atop a sheer stack of rock above the river. The tower climbed to an elaborate iron steeple, from which a huge lightning conductor called out to the skies. A stout iron-bound door stood before them, standing slightly ajar.

Inside, a curving stone staircase wound along the wall of a circular chamber up to a trapdoor in the ceiling some thirty feet above. The room was in chaos, with books, alchemical equipment, and curiously twisted metal everywhere. A huge, broken cage stood in the center of the room, its bars bent and door smashed open.

Dropping from the top of the shattered cage, and presumably its former occupant, the Guardian of Tower rushed forward to attack the party!

Guardian of the tower

The flesh golem tore into Vincent, its four arms tearing and rending at the fighter as the party was staggered by its initial assault. Rallying, the group fought back, with Torquemada leading the charge, giving Vincent time to drink some potions and heal some of his wound. Ryszard’s arrows struck the golem, hurting it but not causing significant damage. Then Vincent returned to the fray, wielding his polearm in powerful attacks. The golem again struck at the party, smashing Vincent to the ground. Realizing they were outclassed, Torquemada yelled at the party to retreat to the bridge, and held his ground as Ryszard and Vincent came rushing out, struggling to stay balanced on the bridge.

As the Guardian came rushing after them, Torquemada attempted to cast a grease spell at the edge of the bridge, but as he did the creature struck him, sending him reeling back and falling over the edge of the narrow bridge. Only by chance did he avoid the fate of Haza and managed to grasp onto the bridge’ edge, as he dangled in the air 200’ feet above the river below.

The Guardian moved forward to attack once more, but lost its footing on the grease and fell sideways off the bridge. Torquemada saw it flash by his face as it fell, it’s arms and legs thrashing as it plummeted down into the rapid waters and disappeared from sight.

After helping Torquemada get back to solid ground, they threw a cloth over the grease patch and turned their attention to the now-vacant room, and began to search through the mess.

Pinned behind the door, Torquemada found a number of pages seemingly torn from the books in the room. The series of abstruse notes were marred with notations and diagrams in the margins written in red ink and with a different hand, but they were also soiled with char marks, stains, and tears – making them illegible for the most part.

Nothing else useful was found, so the party continued up the stairs, only to be faced by a solid trapdoor seemingly made out of pure adamantine. Puzzled, Torquemada took extra precautions in searching the doorway, but could find no magic or signs of traps or locks, so Vincent flung open the trapdoor and the party ascending into the room above.

This circular room was choked with webs. A stone staircase curved along the wall to another trapdoor in the ceiling. Otherwise, the room appeared empty.

Puzzling.

Torque used his inquisitorial powers to set his blade aflame, clearing the room of the webs and allowing the party to move freely.

The group decided to search this room, and was rewarded when they discovered a number of faint chalk marks on the east wall of the room. Crude chalk diagram depicted the iron spire atop of the tower, and two strange apparatuses at its pinnacle. An arrow pointed to the larger of the two devices, next to the words “The Storm Caller must be activated to energize
the Bondslave Thrall.”

Puzzles upon puzzles it seemed.

Once again, there were no other answers here, so the party once again climbed to the next level of the tower.


The Aberrant Promethean

This tower room, clearly once a laboratory, was also choked with huge webs. Two curious objects — a large iron idol and a glass bell jar of the same size — stood against the eastern wall. The jar was filled with fluid and contained a (dead) human woman, while the idol had only two openings for eyeholes, through which blinked a pair of terrified human eyes. The master of Schloss Caromarc, Count Alpon Caromarc, had finally been found.

The group quickly moved over to the device, trying to determine how to open the torture device, but only Torquemada heard the whispered warning from the Count:

“You must get to the roof. It’s coming. ITS COMING!”

And then something huge dropped to the floor from the roof above. A stitched abomination made from the parts of at least half a dozen creatures, the Aberrant Promethean seemed to be a mixture of choker, chuul, cloaker,and ettercap, blended together into a disgusting mass of
false life. It’s speed was incredible as it rushed toward and slammed into Torque, grappling him with ease and hauling him into the reach of its many tentacles. Ryszard and Vincent struck at the monster, but their best attacks seemed to only annoy the beast. Torquemada screamed at them to get to the roof, before the paralyzing touch of the Promethean stifled his cries.

Racing to the level above, Ryszard found himself on the tower roof.

The tower opened onto a flat platform high above the raging waters. A spire of twisted iron rose from the tower’s roof in a series of three triangular iron platforms. Perched at the very top stood a huge lightning conductor and numerous lightning rods. A peculiar brass device, studded with dials and protrusions and filled with a strange purple liquid, stood nearby, attached to a huge silvery conductor by thick, rubber coated cables.

Ryszard moved quickly to the device, throwing levers and dials, and seemingly activating something, as the brass device started to emit a deep hum and began sending out myriad sparks and bolts. As if in answer, the tower above began to hum with power also, as the very air above the tower began to thicken and darken.

Rain started to fall and with a crash of thunder, a lightning bolt struck the tower, throwing sparks all over the area, as Vincent made it to the roof.

More lightning began to strike, lashing at the tower, as well as the roof. Ryszard and Vincent huddled against the device, trying to avoid the electric bolts when suddenly the Aberrant Promethean burst up through the roof, still carrying the motionless Torquemada in its tentacles. The monster seemed enraged, and started to strike at the very tower itself, its powerful blows denting and bending the metal supports.

The brass device now revealed a glowing iron handle, and as Ryszard grasped it, he suddenly was somewhere else…


Welcome Home

The rain lashed as his skin as the thunder roared and the lightning flashed. The bridge was ahead, but there was a cloth on it. He did not know why.

But he knew that the Promethean was above. With Father. And his friends.

He had to move fast. They would need his help now.

He moved fast. Over the bridge, up the stairs, up the next stairs. He could see them above on the roof, and Father. Father was trapped in a box. He had to help him…

But first, he had to stop his brother. And save his friends.

He heard the call of the Bondslave Thrall and could not disobey, not even to save his Father.

He moved fast.


The Final Battle

Great sections of the metal supports were now bent and sagging under the relentless assault of the Aberrant Promethean. It was close to destroying the tower and the Stormcaller.

But then the Beast entered the fray, slamming into the side of the construct and throwing it back. With a horrible roar, the Promethean slammed into the Beast, grabbing it in it’s claws and throttling him. But the Beast did not need to breathe, and was able to surge out of the grasp of the monster.

As the battle continued, Torquemada was thrown free of the Promethean, having been forgotten in its blind rage. Now the others were able to get him to his feet as they watched the battle between the two behemoths.

Clearly, the Beast was able to hold his own, but even he was showing signs of the damage inflicted by the Promethean. Remembering how they dealt with the Guardian of the Tower below, the party quickly formulated a plan of attack, using Ryszard’s control of the Beast to get the Promethean in just the right place.

And then, Ryszard had the Beast bull rush the Promethean as he attacked it with the full power of his ring of the ram and Vincent rushed forward on his own, pushing back against the huge monster.

It fell back under the terrific assault, it’s many legs scrambling for purchase on the rain-slicked stone, pushed back… back… and back…

Over the edge of the roof.

It’s scream of rage could be heard above the thundering lightning as it fell down into the darkness.

And it was gone.

The promethean vs. the beast

View
March 18th, 2012 XP
Encounter Type XP
Rust Monsters (3) Combat 2,400
Erinyes Trap Combat 3,200
Animated Table Combat 1,600
Mummy Combat 1,600
Mimic Combat 1,200
Faceless Flesh Golem Combat 3,200
Total 13,200
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 8 – 51,000xp)
Ryszard 37,842 Paladin 7
Haza 37,842 Cleric 7
Torquemada 36,592 Inquisitor 7
Lashmar 37,300 Magus 7
View
A Museum of the Macabre

Gozran 2nd, 4711

Meanwhile at stately Caromarc Manor…

Now that the danger had passed, the group was able to take stock of their surroundings. A huge portrait hung above an enormous, lit fireplace in this large entry chamber, while a set of steep stairs rose to the right. Two doors led north to either side of the roaring fireplace, while another led east.

Haza and Torquemada split the northern doors while Vincent and Ryszard ascended the stairs to a balcony above. Through the northern doors were a series of storerooms – four rooms crammed with items in boxes and on shelves while the smell of beeswax lingered in the air. One was a household storeroom containing furniture polish, mops and brooms, torches, and other simple tools clearly meant for daily chores. Another was a well-stocked wine cellar, with another a larder stocked with excellent foodstuffs. The final room was full of coal obviously meant for the manor’s fireplaces.

Beyond those rooms was a well-stocked kitchen contains a roaring stove, several workbenches, and a spice cabinet.

Upstairs, the fighter and paladin found a series of well-appointed bedrooms. Two were obviously guest rooms – white sheets covered a four-poster bed, while a wardrobe and dressing table stood nearby. In the southernmost one, a locked metal door was found to lead outside to a narrow stone balcony sans handrails, perilously poised over the roaring waterfall hundreds of feet below.

One room contained three simple cots and a table littered with numerous sheaves of paper and books.

The final room was obviously the master bedroom. A resplendent four-poster bed dominated the room filled with oak furniture consisting of a wardrobe, a dressing table, a chest, and a tall dressing mirror.

Peering out the narrow northern windows, Vincent could see part of the narrow bridge leading to the partially destroyed building to the north, but the entrance clearly lay on the floor below. Having found no other means of egress on the second floor, Ryszard and Vincent returned to the first floor.

Meanwhile, Haza and Torquemada had continued their search of the first level, emerging from the kitchen/storage area into a large room with a vaulted ceiling adorned with gilt. A pair of halberds hung above a huge lit fireplace in the far wall, and a great dining table and twelve chairs took up the center of the room.


At your service

At this point Torquemada turned around to face a bucket of coal floating in the air before him. He stood shocked as the bucket moved around him and serenely glided over to the nearby fireplace, where a scoop started adding coals to the lit fire. Haza also saw the strange spectacle, and the pair followed the bucket as it began to float away to the south heading towards a hallway on the other side of the room.

The coal bucket moved into the hallway, around the corner and into a small room. Two plush chairs sat around a small lit fire in this cramped, tobacco-stained room. Numerous tobacco jars stood on a shelf next to a pipe rack filled with strange pipes in here also. The bucket of coal began to stoke the fire in this room as well, and Haza divined the nature of this phenomenon. One detect magic later, and he confirmed his belief that what he and Torquemada were following was in face, an unseen servant, obviously tasked with keeping the fires lit in the manor. It was no surprise then, when another bucket and mop came floating in and started cleaning the floors.

A quick investigation of the southern hallway revealed a few more doors. Haza entered one, finding a billiards table filling up most of the chamber. A rack of cues on one wall and a brass and gold score checker hung by the door.

Torquemada found two smallish trophy rooms, filled with small stuffed animal trophies – rabbits, foxes, a small bear, and the like.

The last room entered turned out to a library. Shelves crammed with books lined the walls of this room and a comfortable leather chair sat in the room’s center. Most of the books seemed to deal with engineering and construction.

The final door turned out to lead back to the entrance hall, where Vincent and Ryszard now waited.

The entire mansion had been searched, but no sign of the exit to the northern building had been seen. The party gathered in the kitchen, thoroughly searching the area for some kind of hidden or secret passageway, but none could be found.

Exhausted by the day’s events and frustrated by their current lack of progress, the party decided to bed down for the night. Barricading the broken front door, they bunkered down in the upstairs bedrooms, using the Stone of Alarm in the upstairs hallway out as an early warning system. Wrapped in the luxurious softness of the down-filled beds, the weary adventurers were soon fast asleep.

The night passed uneventfully, and there was still no sign of their host, Count Alpon Caromarc. Torquemada even took to using a magically enhanced shout to try to get a response from one of the other buildings, but still there was no response.

There was still no sign of the narrow bridge that Vincent DuMont had seen heading to the northern building, so the party resumed their search for a secret door, and were rewarded when one was found in the dining room. A short corridor ended at a door in the north wall, beyond which was the narrow stone bridge the crossed above the roaring river waters far below.

After slowly traversing the narrow arch of stone, the party stood on a small stone terrace with a wooden door. The door did not appear to be trapped, nor was it locked, so the group continued inside.


Gozran 3rd, 4711

Ashes to ashes, rust to rust…

Beyond the door was a large workshop or laboratory crammed with alchemical equipment, but an explosion of some kind had ripped away the western wall, leaving a large gap in the floor and wall open, now wreathed with scaffolding. It looked as if a stone bridge once connected this building with another on the far side of the gorge, but only a slender rope bridge now hung between the two.

The room was demolished, with pieces of metal, stone, wood, and shattered glass strewn about the room, while large holes loomed in the floor. The rent remains of a large iron vessel seemed to stand out as the likely culprit behind the buildings destruction.

The party decided to search the ruins, but as they set about to do so, three insectile creatures emerged from the debris and rushed forward. These monster skittered on four legs, with a strange propeller-shaped protrusion at the end of its tail and two long, feathery antennae that weaved in the air with obvious intent.

Torquemada realized too late what the threat was, as a monster’s antenna slapped against his metal armor. As the metal immediately turned brown and started to corrode before his eyes, Torque cried out “rust monsters!”

The party split apart and tried to corner the legendary aberrations, and were relieved to see that their metal weapons appeared to hurt the creatures without being subjected to it’s strange rusting powers. Those were apparently limited to it’s prehensile antennae. The battle continued on, with Ryszard the next to fall prey to the rusting touch of the monsters. One rust monster fell to blade and spell, but the remaining two struck again, and the armors of Ryszard and Torquemada simply fell to pieces before they were also slain.

The battle over, the group rearmored themselves as best they could, and found some measure of recompense in the discovery of a rod of flame extinguishing buried amidst the debris after their interrupted search was finally completed. They also discovered that the rust monsters had seriously corroded the structural iron beams underneath the building, making it dangerously unstable. Based on this they decided to press on with all haste, and made preparations for crossing the narrow rope bridge to the next building.


Dancing with the devil

Torquemada offered to lead the way over the bridge, moving slowly and checking for any signs of magical traps. Unfortunately for him, he only noticed the spell trap as he set it off and a whoosh of air heralded the summoning of another creature from another plane.

This time it was no towering vortex of swirling wind.

Some calamity had befallen the angelic warrior that appeared in the air above the rope bridge. Wings stained black shear the air as she hovered in the air, her merciless eyes finding Torquemada and the rest of the party gathered in the ruined workshop. She bore a long coiling rope of black hairs and a long wicked-looking blade in her hand, while at her back was an ebony bow of fine make.

The erinyes, for devil she was, struck out at Torquemada with her rope, attempting to pull him off into the raging torrent below, but he nimbly evaded her attack. Haza retaliated with a powerful spell, but was stymied when his spell fizzed into nothingness against the natural spell resistance of the devil. Ryszard was more effective with his bow, as his arrows flew straight and true into the darkened flesh of the erinyes. Vincent struck at the creature with sling stones, but they proved ineffective against the outsider.

As Torquemada made his way back into the relative safety of the workshop, as the devil switched to her bow, sending volleys of arrows back at the paladin as the ranged attacks continued. Suddenly, a cold, cloying miasma of greasy darkness erupted in the center of the party, rolling over them in waves of vileness. The unholy blight tore at the party, sickening and tearing through their bodies as cramping, debilitating pains. The devil landed and pressed her attacks with sword and rope now, and Torquemada made for the stone bridge, hoping to recover and regroup from the relative safety of it’s intact walls. However, perhaps sensing his desperation, the erinyes flew off in pursuit of him, attacking him once more as he entered the short corridor leading to the dining hall. Haza and Vincent rushed to Torque’s aid, and soon had the devil flanked between them. Now in desperate straits herself, she attempted to flee back outside, but was caught in a flurry of steel and fell mortally wounded, her screams of pain and rage echoing throughout the room as her body began to disintegrate and fade from view as she returned to the Nine Hells.

“That was too close,” said Vincent. “That thing almost killed us all.”

After a short rest to recover and refocus, the party once again attempted to pass over the rope bridge, and this time were successful.


The Living Museum

The other end of the demolished bridge clung to the cliff beneath a large building. A statue of a beautiful nymph stood next to a pair of double doors, while above the doors was a stained glass window depicting a unicorn.

The doors were neither locked nor trapped, and opened into a lobby. This room was crammed with cabinets full of weird, alchemically preserved creatures, including a pair of ice mephit wings, several large spiders, parts of a dissected giant slug, and the digestive tracts and proboscises of a number of stirges. Doors led off to the north, south, and west.

The party quickly searched the room, but then moved on, opening the door to the south.

Things of the Sea

The skeleton of a sea cow dominated the next room, hung from the ceiling on a set of iron rungs and held together by a steel frame. Numerous jars sat on shelves within the room, containing alchemically preserved octopuses, tubeworms, the head of a skum, a curiously repellent eel-like creature with fangs, and a strange, mermaidlike creature with the upper body of a monkey and the tail of a fish, which Torquemada was able to identify as a ningyo – a half-simian/half-fish type of mer-creature rumored to inhabit the tropical coasts of Garund.


Ningyo


Things of the Land

A search of this room also proved fruitless, and the party returned to the previous room and tried the western door. That led to another, larger room. Inside, a stuffed bulette faced the door to this room and cabinets along the walls contained a partially dissected bugbear, a partially transformed doppelganger, and a complete goblin dog – all preserved in alchemical fluids.

Beasts of Dark Reputation

Moving to the last unopened door from the lobby, the party entered the northern room. This room was filled with weird-looking preserved creatures. Two elaborately carved and painted sarcophagi stood against the east and west walls next to large inscribed chests, while a curiously out-of-place pile of chains lay in the center of the floor. Among the more unsavory creatures on display in this room was the tentacle of a froghemoth, a pickled intellect devourer, and a desiccated darkmantle.

Torquemada was very interested in this room and examined the chests closely. Satisfied they were not trapped, he motioned Haza to help him open them, only to find out that both were empty. Moving on to the sarcophagi, he was also disappointed to find it only contained a mummy.

The mummy was not as disappointed and immediately struck out at the surprised inquisitor, who staggered back under the undead assault. Ryszard was struck by a powerful blow from the creature, but the mantle of his holy paladinhood protected him from the cursed creature. Ryszard called upon the power of Iomedae and smited the mummy, while Haza called upon the radiant power of the sun goddess, Sarenrae. It was not a good day to be a mummy, as the power of two of the holiest of gods surged through it’s cursed body, sundering it from unlife and returning it to the embrace of true death.

Then the sarcophagi attacked Torquemada! It reached out with a psuedopod and pulled him close, seemingly adhered to his body. He struggled mightily as the mimic began to tear at him, and luckily was able to escape it’s grasp, as once more the party brought steel to bear against the shapechanger. Soon, it too lie motionless and dead on the floor. Amongst its wrappings, Torquemada noticed a golden glint, which was found to be a magical ring of the ram upon examination. Ryszard was presented with the item and resolved to put it to good use.

One door in this last room led north to a narrow pathway running up the side of the cliff to five towers that lay upriver, but the party had seen that the structure was many-storied as they approached, so before continuing on further, set out to further explore this building.

Suspecting some sort of secret door again, they quickly canvassed the four rooms on this level. Haza found the door in the Creatures of the Land room, and opened the door to find a spiral staircase beyond leading up to another level and down to the open air and what appeared to be a landing below hanging above the water.

Haza didn’t take much time to examine the view further, as something… no make that somethings, were climbing the stairs towards him.

Faceless flesh golem

Six homunculi were chained to the fleshy construct and flitted around its head on chains. The golem itself seemed to have no face or eyes, but still moved with definitive purpose as it glanced up the stairs at Haza, obviously “seeing” him. Haza quickly retreated back to the lobby, calling the others to battle as the golem and it’s flying entourage burst into the room, flinging aside museum cases in its eagerness to do battle.

The golem struck out with powerful fists, slamming the already battered party around the room. The monster was seemingly immune to spells, but the party rallied and concentrated their attacks on the chained homunculi. They were no match for the skilled combatants, and soon fell dead, their chained bodies dragging on the ground around the golem as it started to hesitate in its steps. As the last homunculus fell, it became clear that the creatures has acted as the “eyes” of the golem, as it was forced to cautiously sense where the party members were. Taking advantage of this, the group concentrated on ranged and reach attacks, and soon the hulking construct fell.

Haza then led the party to the secret door and showed them the stairwell. The spiral iron stair literally hung above the valley beneath the museum, connecting to a small stone terrace and a wooden door. Although the view was dizzying, the stair and terrace seemed stable and safe, and the group descended to the door below.

Pushing it open revealed a storeroom filled with outré objects – weird sculptures of shell or hair or sticks, crude paintings made on various animal hides, moss-covered boulders, and more bizarre items filled this room. Three large crates sat in the center of the room, open and empty, while three large, sealed, translucent black glass jars sat just inside the door. One appeared to contain a head preserved in liquid, while the others contained some kinds of mold or fungi. Torquemada was intrigued by the head, and opened the jar in an attempt to see the face. He did, and luck was on his side, for it was the head of a sea hag and had he slower reflexes, surely would have fallen prey to its hideous gaze, potent even after death.

Torquemada decided it would be best to leave the rest of the jars alone for now.

So it was that the party returned upstairs, ascending the staircase to the second floor, where the museum seemingly continued.

Things of the Air

Three dissected, preserved harpies sat in huge bell jars in this room, along with jars containing four stuffed bats, the skeletal front legs and head of a griffon, and the preserved wing of a roc which was slowly losing its feathers. A ladder led up to a trapdoor, while a door led north.

Taking the door, the party entered another large room. This one was crammed with crates and boxes containing curios like animal bones, stuffed birds, and more mundane preserved creatures.

Back to the south, Haza took the Haza, throwing open the trapdoor to an empty attic and triggering a dense acid fog which began to pour down through the trapdoor. He quickly retreated, warning the group back until the spell worked its way down the staircase to dissipate in the open air of the landing.

Convinced now that the museum held no more secrets or surprises, the party returned to the Beasts of Dark Reputation room and headed outside to the cliff and the towers beyond.

View
March 4th, 2012 XP
Encounter Type XP
Trolls (4) Combat 7,200
Trollhounds (2) Combat 1,600
Grork – Advanced Troll Combat 2,400
Flesh Golem Hound Combat 2,400
Guardian of Air Trap Combat 3,200
Total 16,800
Character XP Total Class Level (Level 7 – 35,000xp)
Ryszard 34,542 Paladin 6
Haza 34,542 Cleric 6
Torquemada 33,292 Inquisitor 6
Lashmar 34,000 Magus 6
View
Journey to Schloss Caromarc

Pharast 26th, 4711

3 + 1

Having returned to the Purple Stallion for some R&R, the party ran into Vincent DuMont in the common room. The fighter acknowledged the group as they entered and moved closer to speak with them. Vincent explained that Kendra Lorrimor, having business back in Ravengro, had told him she had no further need of his services at that time. Knowing that Vincent had exceptional fighting skills, and not sure of what might await them at the legendary Schloss Caromarc or on the journey there, the group invited the skilled warrior to join them on their journey later in the week. Not having any immediate prospects on the horizon, Vincent readily agreed.

Afterward, Torquemadareturned to his room to find a personal note from Kendra. She said that she was sorry to have missed him, and that she hoped he would return to visit her in Ravengro when his business in Lepidstadt had concluded.

The party spent the night relaxing and Ryszard Saul rose early the next morning, stopping at a small shrine of Iomedae to tithe for his goddess. Afterwards, he made his way to the trade district, searching for something, and finding his goal waiting under a sign proclaiming “Arthus Fletchery.” Inside, he spoke at length with the proprietor, emerging some time later with a fine yew composite bow slung over his shoulder.

Meanwhile, not satisfied with their exchange the previous night, Torquemada decided to speak with Judge Embreth Daramid once more. Upon arriving, he was ushered inside her well-appointed townhouse and met the cool stare of the Judge as she entered the sitting room.

Torquemada asked the Judge once more what her interest was in their journey to Schloss Caromarc, and she responded by asking what he knew about the Esoteric Order of The Palatine Eye.

“Wasn’t that the title of one of the books we returned to you?” he asked, going on to explain what he knew of the Order.

“But why would the Order be interested in Alpon Caromarc?”

“If he truly is the creator of the Beast – the “Father” as it put it – it would certainly be in everyone’s interest to ensure that the Beast were protected from those who would still wish it… him… harm. It would also be worthwhile to ensure that the Beast did no harm to others either. Even though the Beast was proclaimed innocent of the crimes it was charged with at trial, it has been attributed with many atrocities over the years, as well as caught breaking into the University and committing theft. It obviously has the potential to cause great damage if free, and if Count Maromarc can control the creature or limit it in some fashion, it would be a boon to all."

“But there are other concerns as well. The stolen Seasage Effigy was never recovered, so that in itself is suspicious. Also there is still the Whispering Way. While you were able to save Ravengro from the horrors within Harrowstone Prison, I hardly think that unleashing a hoard of vengeful spirits upon the town of Ravengro was their ultimate goal in Ustalev. I do not know if the Way was involved somehow with the Beast, but I do not like coincidences.”

The conversation continued, and Torquemada acquiesced in helping Judge Daramid. She asked him to convince his friends and he stated he would do so with all haste. Torquemada left to return to the Stallion, having re-earned the trust of the Judge.


Pharast 27th, 4711

From the Dark Tapesty

He awoke the next morning to find a package waiting for him downstairs at the bar. Torquemada opened the large crate, revealing a strange hunk of blueish-black metallic rock, the likes of which he had never seen before. A small note marked “D” stated it was in payment for “services to be rendered.”

“I think it’s adamantine,” said Ryszard. I was just inquiring about the city the other day for anyone who had adamantine weapons, but I don’t know how anyone would have…"

Not entirely sure of the rock’s composition, the party took the boulder via horse and wagon to a nearby smith, who promptly exclaimed that it was indeed adamantine! When asked what he could make from the rare meteoric ore, however, he demurred, saying that while he had heard of the metal and knew about it’s legendary properties, that he had no experience working with it. He did know of a nearby smith with whom he could consult, and was willing to send word to Jorfa, the dwarven smith of Ravengro, for her assistance. Ryszard was not pleased at this turn of events, all to keenly remembering his encounters with her, but finally agreed at the urging of Haza and Torque.

Torque then explained his encounter with Embreth the previous day, and all agreed that this was likely payment from Judge Daramid for agreeing to check on the situation with Count Caromarc and the Beast.

The rest of the day was spent in preparing for the overland journey to the northeast of Lepidstadt to visit the former Count of Vieland, Alpon Caromarc in his mansion Schloss Caromarc.


Gozran 2nd, 4711

The Trouble with Trolls

The trip to the Dipplemere Swamp took four days on horseback, but the weather was fairly pleasant and no encounters were had during their travels. It was an early Sunday afternoon when the party crested a hill and saw their destination waiting before them.

A deep, rocky gorge lay ahead, where a peculiar building, or rather group of buildings, clung to steep cliff edges above half a dozen plummeting waterfalls. Beyond a fortified gatehouse, a stone bridge arched gracefully over the raging torrents below. Perched precariously beyond this was a fine, fortified manse and a ruined building that appeared to have partially collapsed into the river below. A slender rope bridge, replacing the fallen remnants of a stone bridge, linked to a strange tower pierced with beautiful stained glass windows depicting bizarre beasts. A further building teetered to the north of this, but how it was reached was impossible to see from their vantage point. Far above, a great tower rose from an isle of stone to the sky, ending in a great steeple topped with a huge lightning conductor.

The two-story stone gatehouse led into the castle, topped with a crenellated tower at each corner. The main gate was closed.

However, the gatehouse was not unoccupied. For standing outside of the closed gates were two humanoids and two canines. As the party slowly moved closer, however, it became clear that these were not humans, as they were much too large. And too monstrous.

The figures were trolls, and the large, troll-like canines with oversized jaws with them were clearly the rarely seen trollhounds.

Troll and trollhound

The party paused and discussed the situation. Perhaps they were guardians placed there by the Count, as he was notorious for not welcoming visitors and was known to have strange guardians?

As such, Ryszard volunteered to approach the gatehouse, seeking parlay with the trolls and their hounds. Haza offered to accompany him, and soon both men were walking over the hill towards the manse, while Vincent and Torquemada waited in a nearby grove of trees.

Suddenly, a deep howling filled the air, as the trollhounds rushed forward towards Ryszard and Haza and the trolls starting hurling large rocks at the duo. Amidst the flurry of activity, more rocks flew from the second story of the gatehouse as well as an enormous crossbow bolt that came winging from a tower up high. Ryszard and Haza attacked the trollhounds, mortally wounding one before being forced to retreat under the unrelenting missile assault. As they ran back to safety, the remaining hound could be seen limping back to the gate, as the trolls did not seem interested in pursuing them.

From a safe distance, the party yelled down to the trolls, asking for an audience with Count Caromarc. With a deep throaty voice one responded, “This place belongs to Grork!” Laughter followed, but naught else.

The party discussed their next steps, unsure as to why the trolls were there. If they were guardians for Count Alpon, why did they attack? If they were not allied with Caromarc, why did they not pursue them as was their wont?

Finally, it was decided to attempt the gatehouse once more. Approaching stealthily from the treeline, they party made their way to the now-seemingly abandoned gatehouse. The doors were barred from within, and no sounds could be heard.

Vincent said he would attempt to climb to the top and thence open the doors from within. Shedding himself of his lucern hammer, he quickly ascended the smooth stone like a spider, and was soon standing on the roof.

Four towers stood before him, with stairs within winding down. Vincent took flight down the stairs and entered the main room below.

The gates opened on a broad chamber with a vaulted roof. Two large fires burned in the room, and spiral stairways stood in each corner. The gate on the far side of the room was seemingly barricaded with timber and furniture.

Four trolls and a trollhound were crouched in here, obviously waiting for an attempt at breaching the front gates. They glanced up as Vincent stopped on the stairs, and roared as they fell in pursuit of him.

Vincent reached the top and yelled for assistance as the trolls began emerging from the stairwells. Haza used the rope of climbing and everyone swarmed up the rope. Everyone but Haza, who’s unfamiliarity with ropes haunted him yet again. If only these people had portable “Hazas” for climbing!

Atop the roof, the battle raged hot with the trolls and the party exchanging heavy attacks. Haza finally gained the roof, only to be bull rushed back off and into space by the largest of the trolls – the aforementioned Grork! Haza hit the ground 20 feet below hard, but was soon able to stir himself to battle once more.

It was a pitched battle, but the party slowly gained the upper hand, and one-by-one the trolls fell. Torque made good use of his acid splash magic to ensure the trolls could not regenerate back from death, and soon the fight was over.


Return of the Hound

The party now surveyed the area and noticed the curious barricades that the trolls had erected against both sets of gate. As the group ascended to the roof once more, the answer to that question was seen waiting below beyond the far gate.

A slender stone bridge could be seen arching gracefully over a roaring waterfall here, linking the gatehouse to a fortified manor house that clung to the cliff on the far side. In the middle of the bridge sat a Flesh Golem Hound.

Flesh golem hound

Now they understood why the trolls had holed up here – they were afraid of the canine construct also!

But now the party had to find a way to bypass the hound themselves. Plans were discussed and discarded as the day wore on before a plan was derived involving trapping the hound in the gatehouse proper. However, the golem had other plans, as it did not take the bait offered by the party – it seemed disinterested in pursuing them and remained sitting in the center of the bridge, obviously guarding it as originally instructed.

So a frontal assault came next. Ryszard used alchemical weapon blanch on his arrows, and provided ranged support from the gatehouse roof, as Haza and Vincent moved toward the golem, with Torquemada backing them up. As they reached the center of the bridge, the golem finally reacted and rushed forward, it’s massive jaws snapping at them. Ryszard’s arrows flew on the wing, but almost all of them missed the mark, and it was up to the melee squad to fight off the construct. The hound finally fell to their blades, and its body was pushed off the bridge to fall into the raging torrents below.

The path forward was clear.


The Guardian of Air

The arched bridge ended at a small cobbled terrace with a curious looking iron door depicting a scowling sun being devoured by ravenous clouds. To the left, two hundred feet below, a huge waterfall plummeted into the depths.

Torquemada checked the door, finding it both locked and trapped. The lock itself was extremely complex and beyond the ability of Torque to disable. As for the trap, it was magical in nature and seemingly triggered by opening the door. There was no way to disable it from this side.

Vincent once again put his climbing skills to good use, and nimbly climbed up the manse to reach the roof far above. Unfortunately there was no means of entry into the building from there, and only a narrow bridge lay beyond the building on the other side.

Then Ryszard booted the door.

As it flew open, a huge inrush of air materialized directly above the group, coalescing rapidly into a swirling vortex of wind. The huge air elemental immediately struck out, it’s punishing fists slamming into Ryszard and Haza. The party fought back briefly, but the elemental’s power was overwhelming, and soon the group split up – Haza running back to the gatehouse while Torque and Ryszard ducked inside the open iron door. Meanwhile, Vincent had seen the situation below and wisely ducked back out of sight on the roof.

The air elemental chased after Haza, who was now hiding in one of the twisted stairwells in the gatehouse. However, the elemental seemed to know where he was and reached up after him, forcing him to retreat further to the roof. In the blink of an eye the elemental was on the roof – it’s speed was incredible – attacking Haza once again! He desperately called upon the healing powers of Sarenrae as the monster pummeled him further. It was a battle he could not win, and he retreated once again into the stairwells. Once again the monster stalked him, but was unable to find its prey. Frustrated, it returned to the bridge and attacked Torquemada and Ryszard in the great hall.

Luckily for the party, the magic that had summoned the elemental was waning. With a final rush of air, it departed the material plane, leaving the group battered and bruised but still alive.

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DM Notes on the Trial of the Beast

Diplomacy checks during the trial: (11 of 10* successes completed)

Day One: Morast

  • 23 (Haza)
  • 19 (Haza)
  • 18 (Haza)

Day Two: Hergstag

  • 20 (Ryszard & Torquemada)
  • 32 (Torquemada)
  • 21 (Torquemada)
  • 7 (Torquemada)

Day Three: Sanctuary

  • 26 (Torquemada)
  • 29 (Torquemada)
  • 20 (Torquemada)

Extraordinary Evidence presented:

  • 43 (Torquemada)
  • 20 (Torquemada)
  • 40 (Torquemada)
  • 31 (Torquemada)
  • Number of successes needed reduced from 12 to 10 as a result of dispersing the mob without harming anyone.
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