Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 6
The Castle Previously Owned by Baron Hannis
We entered in the early morning via the keep's secret entrance: a cave on a beach. It was unguarded. No surprise there; this Hannis fellow is nothing if not incompetent. We fought through some oozes (guess this entrance isn't used all that much?) and ascended a ladder into the keep itself.
At this point, as the others moved ahead I was waylaid by a group of guards. They realized their mistake quickly, poor souls. If I hadn't been worried about a general alarm, I wouldn't have wasted the arrows. Turns out I shouldn't have been so concerned for stealth. When I caught up with the others, there was a serious firefight in progress across two levels of the keep. On the ground floor, Kris and Jaric stood facing the keep door, which was barred. Bodies littered the floor. I could hear Shella and perhaps Gelros upstairs, but didn't see Narzeth.
As I was assessing the situation, Raven appeared in a burst of feathers. (Neat trick, that. Wonder where she learned it?) It was at this point that I saw Narzeth's rod and rings sitting atop a small mound of black dust. Uh oh. Raven swooped up the rod, fire in her eyes, and rushed toward the window. Jaric shouted something about "get the bloody wizard." Double uh oh.
Something was battering down the door. I left Raven flinging fireballs at it and ran upstairs, looking for my own arrow slit. On the second floor, I found Shella and some other fellow knocking heads about and Gelros forcing the surrender of a gaudy, pathetic man. Hannis, I presume. I inquired about said wizard, and was directed to a window. Gelros also said something about "he's blind now." The wizard? The Baron? This other guy in rags with a sword?
I found our later that, in fact, it was the wizard Imeckus Stroon (some relative of Hannis's) who had killed Narzeth. Gelros in turn blinded him and he attempted to flee through the air, only to be chased down by Raven. I managed to loose one poorly aimed arrow before Raven's fireball brought him out of the sky like a meteor.
What was more relevant at that point was the fight at the front door. There were guards, sure, but they were of no consequence. In fact, Gelros had forced Hannis to call them off; by the time I arrived upstairs they were retreating in disarray. The six hill giants, on the other hand, were either too stupid or ornery to leave. They destroyed the door in short order, after which Kris and Spike held them at bay while Everiel, Jaric, and Gelros (who had once again gone downstairs) provided support. Once they were down to two, they broke as well.
Shortly after, it was over. Gelros had to talk down a murderous Raven, who would have burned the place to the ground had he not assured her that we would get Narzeth back. He also won over the one remaining hill giant, who he then released back to Pitiax.
We made a brief survey of the castle grounds before returning to the keep to look for Shella (who was still searching the tower). It is a typical castle, although in poor shape. Maintenance is badly needed. The keep itself, though, is still lavishly appointed. We found Shella on the fourth floor, where she had encountered and subdued the Baroness. They other fellow I had seen turned out to be Lord Terrion Numesti, released from the stockade and now guarding the captured Hannis on the second level.
In another chamber hidden by a secret passage, we found "The Lady Quintessa Maray," who proved to be the mistress we had heard about. Her armor is on par with Stainder Moorne's (which is to say, impractical); not that she was wearing it (or, mysteriously, anything else either) when we walked in. She claimed to be in the process of donning it, although this seems unlikely. The fight had started nearly 10 minutes ago. Nobody can be so incompetent as to fail to put on leather armor for 10 full minutes. Especially when there is as little of it as she had. But whatever. Her story is that she is a musician by trade and the Baron kidnapped her and held her as a mistress, against her will. Apart from the armor, it seems to check out.
We went out to find most of the town assembled at the castle walls. Honestly, I tuned out at this point and let Gelros do his thing. Something about leaving Numesti in charge; something about the captured mercenaries extradited to Arboria; something Baron Hannis something something gross negligence… you know. Politics and public discourse. I wasn't paying attention; I was thinking about Narzeth. Gelros says we'll get him back, but becoming a pile of dust looks pretty permanent to me.
Lake Hooktongue, Western Shore
Strange things afoot. We arrived back at our boat to find Bob dead and Hooktongue's body missing. But Bob is no kind of ordinary dead: he looks awake and is in fact extraordinarily well-preserved. It took Jaric a few minutes of puzzling, but he concluded that Bob's blood had been turned to wood in his veins. Yes, you read that right. There's no trace of an assailant, either. This turn of events is disconcerting. Gelros feels we should question Bob further and has asked Jaric to speak with his spirit. Which Jaric can apparently do… tomorrow.
Lake Hooktongue, In a Boat
We woke early to find Jaric preparing the ritual to speak with Bob's departed soul. It was a morbid but fascinating ceremony; I've never seen anyone speak with the dead before. It started off solemn, but rapidly turned into somewhat of a farce: poor Bob couldn't move his jawbones to answer the questions posed, so Shella "liberated" his jaw from his face somewhat for him. The remaining answers went like this:
- Q: "How did you die?" A: "Growing wood agony"
- Q: "Who killed you?" A: "Purest corrupted beauty"
- Q: "What happened to the orm?" A: "Don't know"
- Q: "Tell me your final wish." A: "Bury me good"
So we did.
We're sailing back across the lake, and we've seen nothing of interest. Oddly, though, the boat is spotless and smells of fresh flowers.
We arrived back in Bandit's Rest a week ago. Gelros made a brief appearance and speech, and the newly conscripted Arborian 1st Legion marched past in parade. Impressive; the instructors up at the Hand of Gorum have trained them well.
But this was mainly formalities. Having determined that scrolls of resurrection were nowhere to be had in Bandit's Rest, Gelros and most of the rest of us traveled to Restov and back. It took hours, but in the end we found a single scroll of resurrection available in a dusty shop from an old shopkeep, who looked first suspicious and then ecstatic that he was able to sell it at last. We brought it immediately back to Arboria under heavy guard.
The resurrection ceremony for Narzeth was this morning. Jaric laid out the dust and cast from the scroll. I don't know how this is usually supposed to go, but it looked like a struggle. Jaric was fervent and sweating. Narzeth's body reformed before us and came alive in a pulse of light, but he was screaming as if in agony. Jaric immediately poured positive energy over him, and he stopped. That's when we noticed: Narzeth's left eye is entirely missing.
- Contacting Stainder Moorne and recruiting her (2,400)
- Defeat 20 guards (24,000 XP)
- Defeat barbarian hill giants (28,800 XP)
- Capture the Baron (25,600 XP)
- Kill the wizard Imeckus Stroon (19,200 XP)
- Free and ally with Lord Numesti (4,800 XP)
- Completed Kissandra's Plea Parts 1, 2:
- Rescue her father (19,200 XP)
- Depose the baron (19,200 XP)
- Explore plains hex (5,-5) (150 XP)
- Two masterwork longswords
- Three masterwork breastplates
- 120 arrows are stored here. (Nith takes all of these.)
- Closet full of dresses worth 5,000 GP
- Wine cellar worth 6,000 GP
- Detailed notes on various factions, including dealings between Drelev and Pitiax
- Various magical items, not yet identified