NOTE: Please read the Adventure Log, but start with “The Story So Far…” The Adventure Log lists the posts in reverse chronological order.
Lotus quietly listened as Slight chastised Reacher. Although he agreed with Slight’s sentiment, he would never have threatened the pyromancer. At least not so directly.
With Slight watching the main doors and Goat watching the stairwells, Lotus delivered his orders. He sent Slight, Goat and Reacher up the north stairwell, while Teach and Wander were to follow him up the southern one. They would meet upstairs.
Both teams, quickly noticed that the stairwells were craftily constructed to make them easily defensible- the Keep would be difficult to take by force. More double barks echoed through the halls as they reached the top of the stair. Suddenly, Lotus was almost bowled over by Half who was fleeing a pursuing hellhound. The infernal beast was no match for half a dozen warriors and wizards and was quickly sliced, diced and incinerated.
Half informed them that he had scaled the outside wall and slipped in the narrow windows. This floor was Kalash’s living area and he had seen no other threats. However, Half had seen a party of 8-10 soldiers returning to the fort in the distance. Lotus sent Wander, Slight and Half (the NPCs) to secure the fortress and keep the returning soldiers busy. He ordered everyone else to search the rooms for the secret to Kalash’ power.
Reacher ultimately found a secret compartment, but a subtle nod from Teach hinted that perhaps they should keep whatever inside a secret. Lotus sent Reacher and Goat to go kill people, much to their rejoicing, while he and Teach explored further.
Goat and Reacher returned to find an empty mead hall, with the soldiers just walking right in. Goat issued a challenge, leaped upon a table and promptly started kicking ass. Reacher was more subtle, but no less effective sending streaks of fire into the enemy. Suddenly, arrows, daggers and spells sprang from the shadows to overwhelm the soldiers. Caught in a crossfire ambush the soldiers died loud horribly entertaining deaths.
The compartment concealed a secret stair ending at a revolving door. Once past the door the pair navigated a small labyrinth only to enter a completely dark room. The sound of multiple murmuring voices clashed with the tinkling of bells, the song of a bird and the gurgling of a fountain. Teach whispered up a light spell revealing posh living quarters decorated in an Eastern style. A marble fountain, a gilded birdcage, a divan, several sculptures and a bed- all works of art- decorated the room. The most beautiful component of the room was a woman dressed in elegant black robes and clearly of Persian descent by features and accent. She was also remarkable for her porcelain white skin… and petrifying gaze.
Shortly thereafter, Goat burst on the scene with his usual gusto and began blunting his axe and elephant goad against the mysterious gorgon. Teach was able to finally discern that the source of Kalash’s power was in the remaining darkened corner of the room from whence the murmuring came. He also informed everyone that Holy had engaged Kalash and the team need to act fast.
While Teach, Goat and the newly arrived Reacher attacked the gorgon, Lotus investigated the foreboding dark corner. He found four ancient elves bound to marble slabs each reciting magical spells over and over. Deciding that they must be under some compulsion, Lotus did not kill the spellcasters, but only gagged their mouths, ceasing their ritual.
Goat was able to overcome the powerful gorgon, destroying many of the room’s great works in the process. She went down hard, but she went down and even Teach should have recognized Goat’s courage and determiniation. He didn’t, but he should have. Instead he focused on the mission and declared that the Murmurers were empowering Kalash, but there was still another spell linking the tower to Kalash. A quick look around revealed yet another stair.
Upstairs the party found a ritual circle drawn on the floor. In the center of the circle was a young teen covered with minor injuries, bruises, and lacerations. Around the circle walked a shriveled husk of a man chanting and liberally splashing the boy with blood. The man introduced himself as Marvesh and rather helpfully explained that he was a sangromancer. Kalash had completed a blood-tying ceremony with the boy and all injuries Kalash suffered would be transmitted to the boy. Marvesh was supposed to keep the boy alive to act as a sponge for Kalash. This was the secret to his battlefield success. Teach was able to confirm the broad brushes of Marvesh’s claims and added that the circle acted as a focus for the blood link. The heroes were faced with a moral choice- to complete their mission they had to kill the innocent boy. If they did not, Holy would have to face a fearsome opponent who would not suffer injuries until the boy died. Who to save- the boy or Holy? Complete their mission or fail it.
Depsite the hand-wrangling and bad suggestions, Reacher finally suggested that spells cast on the boy, might transmit back to Kalash through the link. One “Sleep” spell later and Kalash hit the ground snoozing. The team held their collective breath hoping that Holy would not simply slay a defenseless opponent as the deathblow would kill the boy. Of course he didnt! They were able to rescue the boy, take Marvesh prisoner, free the Murmurers, and loot the treasure room for valuables.
Within a few days, the rebel lords had consolidated power and assumed control. The Legion claimed Marvesh and the Murmerers as prisoners of war and several of the magical artifacts as spoils. They also offered asylum to any of Kalash’s supporters who wanted to join the Legion. Over 50 armored and mounted knights and nearly 100 men at arms signed up nearly doubling the Legion.