The Great Game, Harvester 16-17, 596 CY (Day 4-5)
The party had been brought to the encampment of the Carna, a group of people near Pottsylvania who have reached some form of agreement with the Baron Zaro, ruler of the land. Their guide, Zito, would lead the group to the Baron’s castle the morning after coming to the encampment.
Zito wakes the group early in the morning, giving all who wish them mounts to travel high into the mountains, to the Baron’s castle. Everyone but Morton chooses to ride. Those that weren’t aware prior see that Morton is able to keep up with the mounts, with little effort or exertion. Zito stops the march at mid-day, reaching a level, grassy area for all to dismount, stretch their legs and eat a meal. When the group learns that they will be arriving at the Baron’s castle no earlier than sundown, they balk, choosing instead to remain until the following morning. Zito does not press them. A plan of action is discussed amongst the party, regarding whether or not the Baron might be able to get them to their home. They are certain that they are not in the region of the Lorridges, or even the Flanaess at this point. They are not certain if it’s pertinent to end the Baron, who may or may not be a vampire. Watches are held, though Zito does remind them that they are not needed, as the Baron has granted unharried travel up the mountain.
“Kill the biggest evil; it goes away.” ~ Golbagai (undated)
Zeke reminds the party that he hates the word ‘wampyr’.
Zito leads the group further up the mountain road, which by mid-morning has passed cloud level. By mid-day, they arrive at the castle gates. The castle of Baron Zaro is an imposing structure, built on an edifice of rock 50 feet separated from the mountainside. A wide arched gateway with a drawbridge beyond allows access to the castle, which is a walled keep atop the edifice. Zito has everyone riding dismount, informing them he’ll be returning to the Carna encampment with the horses. When asked, he informs them that the Baron is in charge of their needs now and that they should ring the bell in the archway for assistance.
Paxalor rings the bell as Zito returns down the mountainside. A man in servant’s livery walks across the lowered drawbridge and greets the party. His name is Mickey and he is to lead everyone to the Baron, who has a lunch prepared for all.
Mickey leads everyone across the drawbridge and into the walls of the castle. Fezgil casts a Detect Magic spell to determine if Mickey, or anything, is ensorcelled. Mickey is not, but most everything else he sees has some form of magic dweomer attached to it. The servant leads everyone through the courtyard of the castle and into the keep itself, through a few beautifully decorated rooms until they reach a sitting area where the Baron himself waits.
Baron Zaro, a six foot tall man in dark robes, happily greets the party, dismissing Mickey and escorting all into a dining area, where a massive table waits with food, drink and seats for all. When prompted by the Baron to sit and eat, Golbagai, Gerrit and Giraud immediately begin to stuff themselves silly, while the others are more discreet and civil. Fezgil, having noticed earlier that the Baron has some magic on him or around him, feigns eating. Morton and Riko choose to not partake at all.
The Baron answers any questions the party has for him, discusses the lay of the land and tries to get everyone to eat. He is conciliatory, amiable and not taken aback when the table erupts into chaos. While discussing the creatures wreaking havoc on the town of Pottsylvania, Fezgil says Zeke’s “trigger word” of wampyr, sending him flying across the table to groin punch the elven wizard. Fezgil is barely capable of moving afterwards, sweating tears of pain while the Baron questions the situation and calling for servants to reset the table. Riko thinks the whole thing is stupid and dares Zeke to try that on him, which he does… poorly. The Baron questions the situation again as the servants reset the mess a second time. Some in the party just shrug, others try and explain, and when the Baron says ‘wampyr’, Zeke leaps to strike him in the groin too. This time the Baron just picks up Zeke by the front of his shirt, stares into his eyes and tells him to stop, then return to his seat. Zeke does. The others are somewhat suspicious but continue talking with the Baron as he tries to make everyone eat. Riko does finally choose to eat some, but Morton refrains.
The Baron is asked if he’s capable of returning the group to their home. He offers rooms to all for a day or two in the castle so he can contact allies who might be able to help. The group reluctantly agrees to stay, and the Baron informs them after they’ve settled in that he’d like to meet everyone individually. Servants lead them to rooms, which all must pair up to share. The women get two rooms, the men get the rest. As the day is yet young, the group asks servants if there is a sitting area to await the Baron. Nadrine asks to see the chapel. No one wants to separate, so all go with Nadrine and a servant to the castle chapel. The chapel itself is a bland, undecorated room two levels lower than the rooms the group was given, and it shows no denomination. Nadrine does not feel as if the room has ever been consecrated or desecrated. It does not feel like a chapel at all, to her. The party has a lengthy discussion about their situation, and Nadrine offers to Bless all around her to see if she can commune with her god Pelor. All but Morton and Zebediah Obadiah accept… with Zeke stripping down and asking to be blessed all over. Zeke is softly interrogated to see if he is acting in his own interests and is determined to be himself. Zebediah Obadiah Blesses Morton, as well as Zeke, to show that Pholtus is still around, too.
“I’m not looking at your dick!” ~ Nadrine to Zeke, undated.
The party spends a large amount of time in the chapel, discussing their options. Some think that there should be some form of trade with the Baron to get them home. Some think killing the poor priest Darrovick, in Pottsylvania, might be a better thing than trying to kill the Baron, as it isn’t positive one is good and one is evil. Neither Nadrine nor Fezgil have attempted a Detect Evil prayer since the carriage incident of a few days earlier. Giraud’s magical amulet didn’t detect any lies from the Baron, but he’s suspicious anyway and thinks ending him is the best course of action. Fezgil is sure that ending evil is the way to go and hurting the crazy priest in town is a bad idea. A good portion of the discussion is had without the group realizing the servant still stood nearby, so Fezgil cast a Silence spell upon him to try to protect them from further problems. More lengthy discussions continue regarding their situation until Zeke embarks on a plan. Gesturing to the servant to come near (thus leaving the Silenced area), he offers himself orally up to the Baron as trade. The servant exits to inform the Baron.
“Morton, you know, there was a time I admired you.” ~ Fezgil (undated)
Later, as another servant comes to escort the group from the chapel, they are brought to a lounge to await the afternoon and the Baron’s pleasure. Books, maps, food and drink are available for the party to enjoy, as is a fire warming the room. Golbagai curls up under a blanket and snoozes while the rest of the group continues to argue over their situation. Paxalor and Morton examine the books and maps, trying to determine their location. None of the written words are legible or known to anyone, though the letters are similar to common. Further foods are brought by request, as well as aid regarding the books, by servants. Zeke is informed that the Baron will be entertaining his offer as a servant assists Paxalor with a history of the Baron’s family. This servant is found to be a sexist, seeing females as lesser beings, which sets off Morton. A Prismatic Sphere is tossed at the servant, who is paralyzed, with little exclamation from the rest of the group. The Baron arrives moments later, much annoyed when learning the servant insulted his guests. Offering to toss the servant from the mountainside for breaking his law, the others are a little surprised and maybe a little scared at the offer. Not sure what to do, they watch the Baron tell the servant to remand himself to the “lower levels”, once the spell dissipates. As the servant begins to leave, Giraud questions the Baron as to the fate of the servant. Baron Zaro responds that the servant will be destroyed, spurring Giraud into action. He attacks the Baron.
Morton: “How did you make it holy?”
Nadrine: “By being here.”
“Look, if I chop off his head and it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.” ~ Golbagai (undated)