The Great Game, Harvester 17, 596 CY (Day 5 – continued, part 2)
The party had just finished with a fight with some flying, humanoid critters at the bottom of a large stairwell leading deep beneath the castle of Baron Zaro. The Baron himself had disappeared earlier, after a pitched battle initiated by Giraud.
Nadrine took stock of the injured within the company and ministered some healing, starting with the heavily wounded Hannah. Killian performed additional healing within the group, while Golbagai ran back up to the lounge and the earlier battle to find items to use as torch material to aid in lighting the crypt. While there, he noticed that Zeke, Paxalor and Henna Tallowleaf were no longer in the lounge, where they had supposedly remained. Calling out to them briefly and getting no reply, he returned to his task.
Below, the remainder of the group nattered about what to do. Pressing forward into the crypt seemed horribly dangerous, while retreating offered little more than a possible respite from further fighting. Spells were at a low, light sources at a minimum, and while waiting for Golbagai, a thick mist had crept into the crypt along the floor, gaining in height by the minute. By the time of Golbagai’s return to the rest of the party, the mist had reached a height of 5 feet and had crept up the stairwell. Everyone had retreated up the stairs, avoiding the mist.
More discussion about whether or not to brave the mist was held, with the final decision to return to the lounge and set it up for defense and eventual retreat from the castle. There, they set up a blockade to the hall leading towards the lower levels and set Hannah as guard at the other entrance. Golbagai was questioned about the whereabouts of the three missing party members, as only Zeke’s clothing was found to be in the lounge.
Killian: “Anyone want to pick up Zeke’s clothes?”
Nadrine: “Why, he’s not going to wear them anyway.”
The barricade is set with every burnable item found in the lounge, from paintings to rugs to furniture and brandy. Oil is spread about for an easy torching, and a small fire is started in the fireplace, to deter anything entering through it. Fezgil removes all the books in the lounge, placing them in the magical Bag of Holding Large Amounts, for further study.
“Remember those gnomes that burned shit in their fireplaces?” ~ Golbagai (undated)
A human woman in a gown approaches Hannah’s guard position, curious about the whereabouts of the Baron. She calls herself Petra, betrothed of the Baron. She is allowed into the lounge by Hannah, who stays behind her. Petra is a little surprised at the condition of the lounge, the lack of books on the shelves and the bodies of the servants strewn about. Killian opts to toss a vial of holy water at Petra, an often attempted way to discover the unholy. Petra dodges the vial in a most inhuman way, prompting the party to back up Killian in an assault on what then becomes a very wampyric woman. The creature makes one brief attack on Killian in return, only to miss and be taken out by a concentrated and violent series of strikes from most of the others. Petra does not leave a body behind, turning to dust and then vanishing in a puff of smoke.
Nattering of what to do continues, as the group is sure now that the Baron is going to start sending more minions against them. They peer pressure Fezgil into flying about the ground floor of the castle, in hopes to discover a better location for defense and rest. He does a quick inspection, finding no servants and no lamps or torches going; the entire castle is in blackout. On his return to the lounge he hears a familiar voice calling out, which ends up being Paxalor’s hireling Henna Tallowleaf, who claims to need some assistance in retrieving both her boss and Zeke.
Fezgil brings Henna back to the others, where she explains what happened after the rest of the party abandoned them in the lounge. She claims Zeke and Paxalor left the lounge, walked through the kitchens and entered a series of secret doorways to a narrow passage and stairwell leading to a large room. She doesn’t know how they knew of it, but she remembers how to return there, and offers to lead the group. Most are extremely skeptical, peppering her with questions as they follow her through the castle’s secret ways. Fezgil makes a series of mental notes of where and how to open the secret doors.
Exiting into a large, darkened room of earthen smells, light sources are brought to bear to show that the room has a high, domed ceiling and has a single, square mausoleum in the center. Paxalor and Zeke are located standing in front of the mausoleum, seemingly unharmed. Suspicion is high, and Paxalor is instructed to get in the Bag of Holding, for safekeeping. He refuses. Henna offers to get in the bag if that’s needed, and that is refused to her. Zeke gets his clothing back. Henna is then doused in holy water to determine if she’s evil or not, but nothing happens.
While the Paxalor, Zeke and Henna are the source of much discussion from some in the group, Golbagai chooses to raid the mausoleum. Breaking into the heavy doors isn’t much of a problem for the massively strong half-orc, who then begins to desecrate the tomb by shoving the stone sarcophagus lids off the six interred in the mausoleum. Giraud and Golbagai check the corpses for any signs of unlife and find none. Three men and three women were entombed here, with some riches within. The others want to return to the upper floors as a large exit can be seen from this room, but it is completely filled with a foggy mist similar to what they saw at the stairwell earlier. The party decides to leave, refusing to allow Zeke into the Bag when he asks to get in. Giraud quickly takes jewelry from the corpses before leaving.
Fezgil leads the rest of the party to what he believes is an interior entrance to one of the castle towers. At the stairs and door of the entrance, a squabble erupts over suspicions of Paxalor, Henna and Zeke. Paxalor tries to defend himself and his actions, and the reason the party is in the castle in the first place is brought up once again. Are they here to find and kill the Lord Staad or not? Is Baron Zaro worth ending if he’s not the vampire they’re meant to kill? What are their obligations to the town of Pottsylvania? How the hell are they going to get home when they aren’t even sure where they are? Paxalor’s defense is not fully accepted by the party, but he is not emanating evil or showing himself to be anything but himself. Vexed, Golbagai rips the doors to the tower open and enters, the rest follow.
“There’s a subsection of the rules that says if you’re a vampire, then all other rules are off.” ~ Golbagai (undated)
The interior of the tower is dark. Sconces are lit as the group goes up a stairway that runs alongside the interior wall, circling around the tower and going up. There are no levels or floors, nor are there railings on the stairwell. Up, up, up about 80 feet and the party (except Fezgil, still utilizing an active Fly spell) climbs the stairs, until they spot a chandelier-like accessory hanging from a ceiling. The stairs continue to run around the interior of the tower and end at the ceiling. The chandelier-like thing has a large, faceted, red gem hanging from it, like a giant red teardrop in metal. Fezgil’s and others lights glint off it, which causes it to pulse a red flash, encompassing all. Golbagai, Paxalor, Nadrine, Hannah, Zeke, Shoshanna, Gerrit and Graham drop to the stairs as if dead, leaving the others shocked, as well as seeing the gem flash red light again.