Session 8, in which the party goes after the source of the zombie infestation
Having listened to Sorrow’s divinations, the party returned to Nabreus. Jack was intent on marching straight to the temple and killing whatever undead rested (or more accurately, didn’t) within.
Nearing the temple, on the opposite side of town, the party came upon an intersection. In the middle of the intersection lay the rotting corpse of a horse. Gathered around the corpse, feasting on its entrails was a group of zombies, oblivious to the party’s presence. Ezarus’ keen elf ears heard talking.
“I ain’t eaten fresh in a week or more - I’m famished!”
“What about these here, then?”
“I said fresh, didn’t I? These rotting buggers ain’t much better then I’d turn up in my barrow.”
“I don’t know, they’re better than a dry bone any night.”
“Yeah. Enough with the jawing. Let’s have at it…”
From around a corner, two ghasts intended on making a meal of zombie meat. Like the zombies, they hadn’t noticed the party at the intersection. Two zombie wolves, however, had. They charged Jack, jaws snapping. With a swing of the dawn shard, Jack cleaved through one of the wolves, into the other. Both quickly returned to the grave.
Hasdrubal cast glitterdust, blinding zombie and ghast alike. Ezarus cast enlarge person on Jack. The brave warrior made quick work of the blind undead. The zombies fumbled about helplessly. The ghasts tried to make a show of it, but couldn’t connect.
The intersection clear, the party headed for the ruined temple. A gray, sagging edifice of stone and wood stood atop a slight rise, on the very roots of the great pillarstone of the omnipresent castle. Light flickered through holes burned through the roof shingles, and the sound of hoarse chanting was audible within.
Jack burst through the temple doors, blade in hand. The church interior was a shambles, with overturned and broken benches littering the dusty floor. A claw-scarred altar stood at the north end of the church, directly north of a gaping hole in the rotten floorboards. A hoarse voice coming from that same direction chanted the phrases of a nonsense prayer.
From a ruined confessional a huecuva burst. An apostate priest cursed to an eternity of undeath, the creature had a particular hatred for devout practitioners of faith. Jack was a drunkard, but he was also a devout cleric of Damh.
Between the huecuva’s dark powers, and Jack’s sacred sword, the sword won. At the rear of the temple, the mad priestess Katja appeared. She had clearly become undead, but was something different than anything the party had encountered before. She seemed like a zombie, yet retained her intelligence. A trained alchemist, she also retained her ability for making explosive bombs, hurling one at the heroes.
Jack charged her, but the rotted floor of the temple gave way, and Jack fell to the church understory. There he met Doru, the blaspheme. Armed with a bastard sword, the blaspheme cut deeply into Jack.
First Hasdrubal, then Ezarus, followed Jack to the understory. Loosing an empowered lingering fireball, Hasdrubal wounded Doru. Jack struck true with the dawn shard, ending the blaspheme’s existence, and the necromantic infestation of Nabreus. The moment the creature fell, all the zombies in town fell as well.
Screeching from the upper floor, the maddened Katja hurled another explosive bomb at Jack. Hasdrubal loosed a second empowered lingering fireball, forcing the alchemist to jump down to the understory. Defeated, the former Cabal priestess regained her sanity. She thanked the heroes for freeing her mind, explaining that all of this was Keldor’s fault. Grief stricken by Doru’s death, Katja fell prey to Keldor’s promises of a chance of bringing Doru back. It was true, Doru had returned, but his return had caused the zombie apocalypse and his death had ended it.
If the heroes wanted to stop the Beast, Katja suggested they find the Liber Keldorum, a tome written by Keldor himself. Somewhere with the text would be the key to stopping him. Before her madness, Katja had asked the Oracles about the text, and was told that though it was a mockery of all that was holy, the tome lay in a place of holiness.
Since it wasn’t in Nabreus’ temple, Ezarus reasoned that meant it was in the chapel within the castle itself.
Katja then asked the heroes if they would kill her and end her suffering. Jack agreed. He sheathed the dawn shard, and instead drew the Duskblade, removing her head.
Leaving the ruined temple, the heroes headed for the bürgermeister’s home. This was, after all, the entire reason they had followed Richter to Nabreus. The bürgermeister’s daughter, Ireena Kolyana, welcomed them in. She thanked them for ending the necromantic threat.
Ezarus showed her the letter they had received, and she confirmed her brother’s response: the letter was not written by Kolyan Indirovich. Ezarus asked if she was cursed, and though she was hesitant to answer, she admitted that she was. For the last two nights, she dreamt of Keldor. The Beast chased her in her dreams, calling her “Tatyana”. When she awoke, she found a bite mark on her neck.
Ezarus inspected the bite, initially believing it to be caused by a vampire. Centuries of research, however, told him otherwise. Though it appeared similar to the bite of a vampire, Ezarus now believed that something else had bitten her. Something he had never encountered before.
He thought back to what he knew of Keldor. Five hundred years earlier, teufelings from Bael Turath had attempted to invade Nabreus, years before Andraste’s church had launched the War of Righteousness. Nabreus’ king, Miro, had raised an army under the command of his sons Keldor and Randor. While Randor was a noble hero, loved by the people, Keldor was feared. He was also willing to do whatever it took to save the town. He would capture teufelings, torture them, and leave their bodies, impaled on spikes, as warnings.
After Miro’s death, Keldor ascended to the throne and ruled Nabreus with tyranny. He fell in love with the maiden Tatyana, but she loved Randor. On the day of their wedding, Randor died suddenly. In grief, Tatyana flung herself from the top of the castle. The townspeople blamed Keldor and attempted to kill him. He was poisoned, shot, stabbed, hanged, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered, and finally beheaded. Even then, he swore he would return. True to his promise, here he was.
Now the heroes had a new mystery on their hands. What was Keldor, and how could they stop him?
End Session 8.
Session 9, in which the heroes search for the relics of Andraste.
Having ensured that Ireena was not, in fact, cursed by witches and unsure of what the Beast was, the heroes decided their first course of action should be to gather the relics of Andraste. Sorrow's card reading suggested that the Shield of Andraste could be found in a place of commerce.
In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, only one merchant's shop still remained open: Bildrath's Mercantile. The heroes entered, to see Bildrath behind the counter. Kelsier searched the store, but found nothing out of the ordinary - only the back room sat untouched. Kelsier tried to convince Bildrath to let him search the back room, but the merchant wasn't about to let any random adventurer go through his stock. Jack, however, threatened the merchant, and was able to convince Bildrath to let them in.
After some searching, Kelsier was able to turn up a majestic platinum and ruby amulet. It sat on a shelf as if it had always been there, yet was clearly out of place. After inspecting the amulet, Bildrath was willing to let it go for fair market value - fifteen hundred pieces of gold.
Checking their finances, the heroes realized they were a little short. They gave Bildrath the adamantine chain shirt they had looted off Doru, in exchange for the Shield of Andraste, with the promise they would return later and exchange the amulet for the armour once again.
The second relic they needed was the Sword of Andraste. The prophecy spoke of it being at a set of crossroads. Hasdrubal asked the survivors about crossroads, and was directed to a set in the forest. A small graveyard stood there, next to the gallows where brigands were once hanged.
As the heroes approached the crossroads, they witnessed an armoured knight fighting what appeared to be stains of darkness in the air. The heroes charged in to assist the knight. The shadow stains, murks, flanked Kelsier. Their touch brought about madness, the monk's sanity slipping. Jack had similar misfortune. Hasdrubal cast glitter dust and black tentacles on the murks, blinding them and holding them fast. All of the heroes stood back, waiting for the tentacles to crush the (un-)life from the creatures.
Once rescued, the knight introduced himself as Sir Urik, a Knight of the Raven, an ancient order of monster slayers that fought to protect the land. Alas, in recent times, he was the last surviving member of the order.
Digging at the crossroads, they uncovered a gleaming crystal sword, a dim blue light glowing within. Ezarus thought about the sword's lore, and explained to his companions that the Sword of Andraste had been forged specifically to slay the Master of the Castle, but that Keldor had sought to destroy the blade. It was stolen before it could be destroyed, and had been lost since then. At last it was recovered, but the heroes knew they must take it to the Castle's library to awaken the blade's true power.
Realizing their resources were nearly spent, the heroes decided to return to town and rest for the evening. Jack sought a widow to spend the evening with, while the others sought out an abandoned house to crash in.
Awakening the next morning the heroes decided it was time to visit the castle beyond the forest. They needed to find the library to awaken the sword, the chapel to find the Liber Keldorum and the master's wealth to awaken the amulet. Ezarus tried to remember any lore he could on the castle. He could remember only that it once had a name, a name that fell out of use centuries ago: Raven's Loft. It seemed the worship of ravens was important to the ancient Nabreans.
The ancient castle stood before them, it's rotting drawbridge lowered. Kelsier nimbly leapt over the drawbridge, landing beneath a portcullis on the other side. Green slime dripped down upon him, sapping his strength. He quickly lit a torch, burning the slime away.
The rest of the heroes, unable to nimbly leap over the bridge, cautiously walked over it. Everyone made it across without difficulty. Entering the castle's court yard, they could see the front doors of the castle were open, warm light inviting them in.
Rather than just walk through the front doors, the heroes decided to explore the courtyard first. They found a large rusted gate leading towards the back of the castle. Taking a large chug of ale, Jack gave it all he had, and lifted the gate up. The party rushed through as Jack let the rusty gate fall.
An old stable, and old servant's quarters were found at the rear of the castle. The layers of dust told them it had been some time since anyone had been this way. Rotted skeletons, once living guards, sat pinned to the wall. A staircase descended to the dark.
Jack drew the dawn shard, activating the sword's daylight power. He noticed immediately that the light was muted, not nearly as bright as it should have been. Descending beneath the servant's quarters, they found a crazed servant within. He seemed confused, thinking the master's guests should be in the South Tower, not here. He seemed amicable enough, and offered to take the heroes to the library.
Leading them into the next chamber, he explained there had recently been a great battle, as the master killed a group of adventurers. Keldor had even kept the skull of one of the adventurers as a trophy. The servant, Cyrus, was disappointed. He had hoped to have a souvenir of the battle.
End Session 9.
Session 10, in which the heroes explore the ancient castle
In Castle Raven's Loft's basement, Cyrus led the heroes towards the Kingsmen Hall. The room lay in chaos, shattered furniture piled in heaps near the walls. From the shadows, two demons emerged. Jack rushed forward, confronting them.
Hasdrubal, still at the entrance to the hall, was suddenly grabbed by a large ape-like demon that appeared out of thin air, its invisibility dropping. The wizard's touch stunned the demon momentarily, just long enough to escape from its grasp. Ezarus cast enlarge person on Kelsier, the monk's blows striking the demon hard. Both Kelsier and Jack were aware that their attacks weren't hurting their respective demon enemies nearly as much as they should have been. Nevertheless, the demons quickly fell. Jack's Duskblade was now scorched with acid from the skin of one of the demons.
Cowering in the corner for much of the fight, Cyrus suggested the heroes head up the stairs at the end of the hall. Before heading up, the group checked out a locked door within the hall. Seeing it was securely locked, they decided it best to leave it.
Leading them to the castle's second level, Cyrus seemed confused as they wandered a hallway. He was certain there was a door around here somewhere.
Ezarus' keen elf eyes noticed the outline of a secret door. The heroes opened the door and found themselves outside a bedroom. Within the bedroom where eight canopied beds, stained lace hanging from each bed. On seven of the beds rested the bodies of seven dead young women, their bodies unnaturally preserved.
The heroes gave the bedroom a wide berth, while wondering why one of the beds was empty. Cyrus led them to the end of the hall, which ended in a dead end. The heroes easily found a secret door out of the hall.
Cyrus led the heroes into the castle's audience hall. Lightning flashed outside, spilling into the room through jagged cracks in the massive windows. Otherwise, the room stood in chilling darkness. The faint sounds of music, Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, could be heard in the distance. A single throne sat on a raised platform, slightly off centre. Hasdrubal reasoned that the queen's throne was missing, and that only the king's throne stood atop the platform.
Past the audience hall, the heroes stumbled upon the castle's steward, flanked by undead. A crazed berserker, the steward grabbed a blade and charged into battle. While the others fought, Ezarus looked through the scrolls and books of the steward's office. Disappointed that most were financial records of centuries before, he nevertheless found a divine scroll containing several spells.
Another door in the hall led the heroes up into one of the towers, past the third floor. The landing on the fourth floor housed a large portrait of a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Ireena Kolyana. No more portrait, the woman began casting a spell, catching all but Ezarus in the effects of a mass hold person. Ezarus used dispel magic, freeing Jack, as two statues in the hall came to life. One, a chain golem, began whirling its chains, catching Jack and Hasdrubal. The other, a gargoyle, charged the mobile Jack.
As Jack worked on defeating the statues, the others were able to break free of the spell through sheer force of will. After destroying the portrait, they found a small safe behind it, containing antique woman's jewelry. Could these have once belonged to Tatyana?
Cyrus led them at last to the library. Or more specifically a library. A lounge with a mundane library didn't seem to be the ancient lore of the castle that the heroes were looking for. Kelsier investigated further, finding a small bedroom. A closet at the end of the bedroom burst open, revealing three warlocks. They immediately cloaked the room in darkness, and began hurling dark magic at Kelsier.
The prophecy of the Oracle came to mind. They would find Keldor, the Master of the Castle, where three servants of Hell gathered. Were these the three servants? Hasdrubal summoned black tentacles, entrapping the three warlocks. One vanished through a dimension door, but the others were trapped. Eventually, Hasdrubal ended the spell so that Kelsier and Jack could handle the captives. With one disabled by a hideous laughter spell, the other escaped through a secret passage.
The heroes prepared to follow…
End Session 10
Session 11, in which the party tries to kill each other
The heroes followed the escaping warlock through a secret passage, taking a ladder up to the fifth floor of the tower. Kelsier emerged first, appearing in an arcane laboratory. He saw the warlock across the room, but she was waiting for him, hurling dark magic at him. A nearby door opened as the warlock leader, the one who had escaped through a dimension door, blasted him with flame.
Kelsier went after her, stunning her with a fist to the face. The rest of the group climbed into the room, Jack helping Kelsier with the warlock leader, while Hasdrubal cast dominate person on the other. She tried to flee, knowing her mind would soon not be her own, but it was too late. She was now Hasdrubal’s puppet.
Once again the warlock leader escaped certain death through her dimension door, but the heroes at least had a captive they could get information from. The warlock captive, Afina, explained that she and her friends served a devil named Khyristrix. They had sold their souls for power, and here at Raven’s Loft, they had power. She also explained that Khyristrix had some sort of deal with Keldor. He gave her a base, while she protected something called the Dayheart.
The three servants of Hell now defeated, prophecy was fulfilled, and Keldor appeared. The Master of the Castle was angry, he had summoned the heroes to deal with the Witches of Lysaga Hill, and yet they instead broke into his home, killing his servants.
Ezarus noted Keldor’s pale skin and red hair. He was familiar enough with Nabrean superstition to realize that Keldor was strigoi.
Keldor gave the party a choice: leave now, and stop the Witches, saving the island from doom; or fight him and die. Ezarus agreed, on the condition that he could study the history of the island. Keldor, himself a student of history (if not a maker of it) was willing to allow Ezarus access to his study, unaware that the heroes sought a means of awakening the Sword of Andraste.
Jack had serious concerns about dealing with a monster allied with Hell, in order to defeat monsters allied with the Abyss. His companions didn’t want to fight, so he begrudgingly accepted this course of action.
From the secret passage, Ireena Kolyana emerged, having been covertly following the heroes. She was enraged that they would consider dealing with the monster that had killed her father, and terrorized her. Drawing a sword, she charged at Keldor. The Master of the Castle commanded her to stop, and instantly Ireena dropped her blade, becoming docile. Hasdrubal immediately recognized the telltale signs of dominate, while Ezarus responded by casting protection from evil on the girl. Despite the protection, she was unable to shake off Keldor’s mental dominion over her.
Keldor glared at the heroes, but did not attack. He still needed them to defeat his enemies. He dismissed them, telling them to hurry as there was but one more night before the witches would complete their ritual and summon forth a demon. He would remain here, protecting Ireena. He vowed no harm would come to her. Jack attempted to use the dawn shard’s magic on Keldor, but the Master proved immune to the sun’s effect.
Rather than take the secret passage, the heroes left through the door. The next room was in disarray, couches torn and scratched. An emaciated white cat appeared before Jack, warning him that his companions had been subverted by Keldor! Kill them quickly!
This seemed quite reasonable to Jack, unaware that he had fallen victim to a suggestion. He took a swig of ale, drew his great sword, and attacked Hasdrubal. The enchanter, skilled in taking control of other’s minds, cast his own suggestion, telling Jack that the cat was tricking him. This also made sense to Jack.
Kelsier, meanwhile, knew that cats couldn’t talk, and this was clearly something unnatural. Punting the creature against the wall, he witnessed it change shape into an imp, before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
Two other imps in cat form appeared, trying to attack Hasdrubal. The mage, protected by stoneskin, was unharmed. Quickly, these two other imps were sent back to Hell.
The door leaving the chamber was securely locked. Kelsier tried to use his skeleton key to open it, to no avail. Hasdrubal then cast knock, but still the door would not open. Channeling his inner Nicholson, Jack broke the door down.
They entered the stairwell, tripping a word of chaos trap. Jack, already predisposed to chaos was unaffected, but Hasdrubal and Kelsier were left stunned, deafened, and confused. Realizing that a confused Hasdrubal was a dangerous enemy, Ezarus used binding ties, taking the effect of the confusion spell onto himself. At once he began babbling incoherently, explaining third century elven tax law. Jack held his ground behind his shield, distracting Kelsier.
Hasdrubal, now able to think clearly, cast unadulterated loathing on Kelsier, forcing the monk to keep his distance. With Ezarus unable to shake the effects of the confusion, the spell returned to Hasdrubal, and the enchanter was once again and dangerous foe. Jack immediately set to work putting the wizard down, while Ezarus frantically tried to stop him, explaining he could take the effect onto himself again.
Once Hasdrubal was able to think clearly again, he summoned a stinking cloud, figuring it was better to everyone to wait out the confusion, while vomiting repeatedly for the next ten minutes.
Once both spells had ended, they were able to continue down the stairs.
End Session 11.
Session 12, in which the heroes awaken the Sword of Andraste
Arriving on the third floor of the castle, the heroes headed for the library. Two armoured statues flanked the hallway, Jack thinking it would be funny to put the statues in inappropriate poses. To his surprise, however, the statues were haunted, two cursed spirits emerging, and attacking the party. Armed with the dawn shard, the party no longer feared the risen dead.
Defeating the spirits, they carried on, entering a dining room. It looked as if a great wedding feast had been prepared here long ago, but the feast had been left to rot. Could it be that this room had not been touched since Randor and Tatyana's ill-fated wedding day?
Another spirit stood in this room, wailing a mournful song. The lament weighed heavily on the party, but they were able to resist the magic in the melody. As with the cursed spirits, the crypt chanter quickly fell to Jack's blade.
Two doors exited the dining hall, so the party split up. Kelsier went west, finding himself in a large bathing room, and from there moving to a bedroom. To his surprise it was occupied. To his further surprise, the occupant was alive!
Gertruda, a young woman from Nabreus, claimed to be in love with the Count, painting an image of Keldor as the perfect romantic gentleman. Gertruda was also quite upset that Kelsier would just barge into her bedroom while she was sleeping. It was quite rude!
While Kelsier chatted with (while mostly ignoring) Gertruda, the rest of the party headed north, into a large study. Some might call it a library, but Ezarus was disappointed that there weren't more tomes. The walls of the study were lined with books on Clotharia's wars. One whole section was dedicated to the Daemon Wars.
On a desk, was also the most curious thing. A clockwork puzzle box. Ezarus recognized the child's toy as an elven construct. One aligned the gears of the box by turning the sides, and then music would play. Typically these music boxes were found in the hands of the elven aristocracy. A note, stuffed between the gears, called this box Quinari's Key. He pocketed the music box, wondering what an elven artifact would be doing here.
Jack explored further, seeing that a door heading north continued down a hall. Kelsier came and got Jack, having found a secret door within Gertruda's room. The girl was even more upset that there were now two strange men in her bed chamber. Helping Kelsier move a bureau out of the way, the two discovered another hallway.
The party split up, two heading north from the study, the other two heading north from the bedchamber. Both hallways emerged in the same room, a hall filled with ruined statues. The room had collapsed, crushing many of them.
A spirit appeared, but raised a hand wishing to speak with the heroes. She was Lady Vey Rallen, once a Knight of the Raven that sought to free Nabreus from Keldor's grip. Instead, her spirit was bound to the castle, fighting an endless war against darker spirits that were likewise bound. The party asked the spirit which enemy they should confront first: the witches and their Abyssal allies, or Keldor and his Infernal allies. Lady Vey stood in silence, thinking. If one side was defeated, it would create a power vacuum, allowing the other to grow stronger. The best solution for Nabreus would be to defeat both. Which side they should confront first, however, she could not answer.
She warned the heroes that they would not be able to truly kill Keldor until they removed the various magical protections he employed. She knew that his Infernal allies were granting him some protection, but knew little beyond that. She suggested that Hasdrubal's thrall might know more. The dominated warlock could only give the party basic information, not truly knowing the details of the arrangement between Keldor and Khyristrix, or what the Dayheart was.
The heroes asked Lady Vey if she knew where the castle's treasury was, knowing that they needed to take the Shield of Andraste there. The spirit suggested there was a secret passageway behind the hearth in the study, and to investigate there.
Thanking her for her help, the party returned to the study. Ezarus extinguished the fire, while Kelsier searched for a secret door. Opening it, the party entered the castle's treasury. To their disappointment it contained no more than five hundred gold pieces and a single treasure chest. A skeleton, clad in full plate rested against the far wall, clutching a torch. Higher up on the wall, rested two sconces, but only one held a torch. Taking the torch from the skeleton and putting it in the sconce, the party opened another hidden door.
The chamber beyond was filled with spiderwebs. Taking flame to the webs, Kelsier burned a path through the chamber until he found a rope hanging in the middle of the room. Attempting to climb up the rope, to see where it headed, he rang a large bell. The melancholy wail of the bell affected Kelsier, the monk's reactions slowed. Two large spiders, alerted by the bell, attacked the party. One webbed Ezarus while the other attempted to bite Kelsier. The spiders were no match for Jack's mighty blade, and soon the heroes were alone once more.
Beyond this chamber rested the actual treasury of the castle, which contained more coinage than the heroes could carry. Jack's attention was immediately drawn to a ghost touch sword. He quickly grabbed the blade, adding it to his collection of blades. He was beginning to wish he had more hands.
Having found the treasury, Ezarus realized he didn't actually know how to awaken the Shield of Andraste. He suspected whatever ritual he required would be found within the Librum Keldorum, in the castle's chapel. Instead of seeking the book out, however, they returned to the study. Ezarus had gleamed enough information from the texts within to figure out what ritual would awaken the Sword of Andraste. The heroes figured it was better to awaken the sword now, and rest, before going anywhere else in the castle - it seemed as if every room contained something that wanted to kill them.
Though he didn't believe in the gods, Kelsier agreed to spend the night praying to Andraste, while the spell casters rested. Deep in thought, roughly two hours passed before Kelsier was interrupted. Keldor stood across the room, enraged. He had invited the heroes into his home, and here they were with the Sword of Andraste, a blade he had sought destroyed centuries ago. The strigoi ruler of the castle summoned dark flame, blasting Kelsier, Jack, and Ezarus.
Awakened, Jack grabbed his Duskblade, swinging at Keldor. He missed. Keldor cast enervation on Kelsier, draining the monk's strength. Jack swung again, this time connecting. Drawing his own sword, Keldor attacked Jack and Kelsier, burning each of them with his flaming sword. Hasdrubal opened up an extra-dimensional pit beneath Keldor's feet, but the Beast stepped out of the way.
Jack tackled Keldor, pushing him into the hole. The Beast fell one hundred feet into a pool of acid, Keldor turning into a cloud of mist as soon as he hit the bottom. The mist quickly dissipated. Ezarus informed his companions that it was unlikely they would see Keldor again for at least a day. He wasn't dead, but he would return after recovering.
Returning to their rest, and Kelsier's meditation over the blade, they were uninterrupted the rest of the night. As morning came, about three things was Kelsier absolutely positive: 1) Edward was a vampire. 2) the Sword of Andraste was, in actuality, a daemonsword forged during the Third Daemonwar to combat Toth's draconic armies. 3) Whoever had forged the Sword had used the Midlight Shard, the shard given to the elves by the All-Father as his promise to never destroy the world.
A nimbus of light formed between the two shards of light, forming into the spirit of a beautiful elven woman. She smiled, congratulating the heroes on overcoming great darkness to awaken the sword. This would be the next part of their destiny that they would need to embrace.
End Session 12.
Session 13, in which the party finds the Liber Keldorum
With the Sword of Andraste awakened, the heroes decided their best course of action would be to find the castle’s chapel, and find the Liber Keldorum. While they weren’t certain where the chapel was, Afina was still dominated and led them to the first floor. Passing through the front foyer, Kelsier noticed that the stone gargoyles were anything but stone - they were living gargoyles. Jack tried out the daemonsword, the holy blade making quick work of the stone guardians.
Their path to the chapel now clear, they began searching through the ruins looking for the tome. The corpse of a dead priest lay before the altar, wearing magical armour and carrying an unholy mace. The Icon of Raven's Loft rest on the altar, and Ezarus could tell that it was a potent holy symbol for banishing the undead. Odd to find such a thing in the castle of the risen dead. Removing the icon, they found the tome resting underneath.
Most of the pages were ruined, but there was a long section intact. It told of Keldor’s rise to power, spending his youth building a kingdom, while his younger, more handsome brother got the glory. It told of selling his soul to darkness in a bid to win the heart of Tatyana. It also told of Keldor binding himself to the forest, the mountains, and the swamp, making himself as eternal as the land. Only by reconsecrating the fanes to the saints that once protected them would Keldor’s power be stripped.
As well, Ezarus was able to piece together the ritual to awaken the Shield of Andraste. Returning to the treasury, the heroes prepared to spend eight hours in prayer. While they waited, they were attacked by a ferocious dire bat. They couldn’t be certain, but they thought perhaps the bat was a shapeshifter Keldor. Whatever the creature was, it was easily dispatched by the awakened daemonsword, turning to mist as it vanished.
Now armed with another weapon to combat Keldor’s evil, the heroes prepared to stop the witches of Lysaga Hill.
End Session 13.
Session 14, wherein the heroes finally head to Lysaga Hill.
Afina led the heroes through the woods to Lysaga Hill. As they approached, they came upon ancient ruins. Ezarus had read enough about the area to guess that these were the ruins of a monastery built by St. Ekaterina, one of the earliest centres of worship for Andraste in the region. Within the ruins, a coven of witches worked dark magic. Confined within a magic circle was a towering demon. From the cover of the woods, Ezarus studied the scene. He suspected the only way to stop the demon from invading would be to slay it. Fortunately, Jack was equipped for just that task. The only issue would be deciding which of his magic blades to use.
More troubling, however, was Ezarus' suspicion that the summoned demon was more than that. By all appearances it appeared to be Chernovog, an Abyssal lord once worshipped by ancient Nabreans. His cult had been nearly wiped out by Ekaterina centuries earlier.
With the coven distracted by their ritual, the heroes knew now was the time to strike. Hasdrubal cast cloudkill, killing most of the coven immediately. Chernovog's aspect still stood. Though unable to see the heroes through the poisonous fog, he could sense them. He spoke telepathically in Abyssal, promising to rape them to death, eat their flesh, and sew their skins into his clothing. And if they were very, very lucky, he'd do it in that order.
Chernovog loosed eldritch bolts at the heroes as they moved to circle around the ruins, keeping out of the fog. Hasdrubal sought to incapacitate Chernovog with a stinking cloud, but the demon resisted the spell, taking to the skies. Unable to see Hasdrubal, who was protected by standing wall, the demon lord instead targeted Ezarus. A wizard was a wizard.
With the aspect's attention drawn to the spell casters, Jack used the opportunity to climb one of the walls, putting himself in striking distance. Sword of Andraste in hand, he made quick work of the fiend, dispatching it back to the Abyss.
An examination of the witches revealed that most of them had fiendish flesh stitched to their own. Afina, herself a servant of dark masters, remained silent. The leader of the coven, now dead, was clearly not human at all. She appeared to be a hag, warts and all, yet some sort of magic made her appear to be a young, beautiful, human woman.
The wizards inspected the magical circle Chernovog had appeared in. Once, long ago, it had been a focal point of sacred energy. Now, it's power had faded, and it could no longer discern between the sacred and the profane. It was evident that someone, or something, had corrupted the monastery.
While the wizards worked, Kelsier noticed a trap door, partially buried by rubble. He worked at clearing it, finding a ladder that descended beneath the ruins. Investigating the caves below, the heroes discovered a reliquary upon a shrine, containing crushed bones. If their understanding of the Liber Keldorum was correct, this reliquary had been desecrated, and only by reconsecrating the shrine with an intact bone of St. Ekaterina could they sever one of Keldor's connections to the land.
Inspecting the rest of the chamber, the heroes found two demons skulking in the shadows. The fiends were quickly slain. The ruins clear of monsters, the heroes now needed to find out where St. Ekaterina had been buried…
End Session 14.
Session 15, wherein the heroes investigate the Nabrean Fanes.
Ezarus reasoned that if St. Ekaterina was a hero to the ancient Nabreans, than she was likely interred beneath the Raven’s Loft. The heroes considered returning to the castle to search for Ekaterina’s remains, but worried that the other Fanes might require the bones of other saints.
Suspecting that the fane beneath Lysaga Hill was the Mountain Fane, that meant they still needed to locate the Forest and Swamp Fanes. Considering how much of the area was forest, they decided to investigate the Swamp Fane first. Traveling down the Ivlis River, the group entered the Ivlis Marsh. The trek was difficult, and it wasn’t long before they encountered a swarm of vampiric mosquitos. Kelsier quickly learned that punching mosquitos wasn’t exactly effective. The shambling mound that emerged from the water, on the other hand, could be punched.
Through magic and brawn, the heroes were able to defeat the swamp guardians, moving deeper into the swamp. As the water deepened, Kelsier’s keen eyes noticed several large eel-like creatures just beneath the water surface. Hasdrubal summoned writhing black tentacles to hold the eels in place, allowing Jack and Kelsier to make quick work of them.
Returning to solid ground, the heroes found an ornate tent set up. It certainly looked out of place in the swamp. Within the tent was a beautiful human woman, drinking a dark red beverage. She explained that there were two beverages in the world the colour of red wine, and that what she was drinking was not red wine. Ezarus corrected her and listed off fourteen other beverages the same colour as red wine.
The woman laughed and introduced herself as Lament, one of the Oracles of Nabreus. The party had met her sister Sorrow at the Tsigiri encampment, and had slain her sister Mourn at Lysaga Hill, though they didn’t realize the maddened hag was an Oracle.
The party explained they were looking for the Swamp Fane, and Lament offered her aid. She’d tell them where the fane was, and what they needed to do to consecrate it, if they’d promise to kill Keldor and free her from imprisonment. She was a prisoner of the swamps, and so long as Keldor drew power from the Swamp Fane, she would eternally be trapped here. Lament also agreed to tell the heroes where the Forest Fane could be found. The heroes already planned to kill Keldor, and quickly agreed to Lament’s terms. To their surprise, the Forest Fane could be found outside the Tsigiri camp, guarded by Sorrow. Lament also told the heroes to find the remains of Saint Bogdan within Raven’s Loft. The saint’s finger bone would be needed to reconsecrate the fane.
Realizing that both Ekaterina and Bogdan were buried in the crypts beneath the castle, the heroes decided to visit Sorrow to find out the third saint’s name. Chances were that all three saints were buried in the crypts, possibly together. Returning to the Tsigiri encampment, the heroes found Sorrow in her tent. Explaining their plans, and their agreement with Lament, the heroes also enlisted Sorrow’s aid. After centuries of being imprisoned, she welcomed a release. Her cards had suggested that the heroes might actually be able to succeed. Deep beneath Raven’s Loft, Sorrow explained, the heroes would find the remains of Saint Markovia. The saint’s thighbone was the relic they needed.
Now knowing what relics they needed, the heroes returned to the castle. They headed for the rear entrance, descending back into the basement they had originally entered the castle through. Knowing where stairs up could be located, they instead looked for stairs down. The first room they searched looked to be the castle’s kitchen. One of Keldor’s zombies stood over a large caldron, digging through the muddy, green liquid within as if searching for something. Quickly killing the zombie, the heroes investigated the pot. A mohrg emerged from the pot, grabbing Jack and trying to drown him. The heroes rushed in to free Jack from the undead’s clutches. Returning the mohrg to the grave, the heroes resumed their search of the area. They found stairs up, but ignored them. Adjacent to the kitchen were quarters, likely for one of the castle’s servants. The room was filled with junk, much of it looking like it had come from the many slain adventurers who had fallen victim to Keldor. Anything of value had likely been looted by Keldor himself.
As they continued their search of the floor, the hallway began to fill with webs. Kelsier was able to see what appeared to be a humanoid construct made of webs seconds before it began filling the room with even more sticky webs. Avoiding the webs, Kelsier was able to venture deeper into the chamber, discovering several large spiders, and humanoid spider creatures hidden within the webs. With the rest of the party cut off from the room by webs, Kelsier was the clear target for the other monsters. Even though his monk training afforded him an immunity to disease, poison was another matter. The venom from the spiders and the ettercaps was beginning to drain Kelsier’s strength and ability to react.
Jack was able to cut his way into the chamber, helping Kelsier out. Hasdrubal summoned a stinking cloud, hoping to force the spiders away from Kelsier. The tactic was successful, and the spiders and ettercaps were easily defeated. The web golem proved to be immune to the wizards’ spells, but not to Jack’s sword. To Jack’s surprise, the golem was covered in a powerful adhesive that managed to rip his blade from his hands. Fortunately, he had many more swords, and suspected the golem would die before he ran out of blades to use.
The golem defeated, Ezarus began casting restoration spells on Kelsier to try and undo the spiders’ venom. The heroes knew they’d need to rest soon…the numerous battles they had been through were taking their toll…
Session 16, in which the party finally finds the stairs down
Searching through the webs for any fallen coins or items, the heroes were able to find half a key. Ezarus believed that it had been magically separated, and cast a locate object spell to find the other half. The spell revealed that the other half of the key was in one of the castle's towers. Making a note of its location, the heroes continued investigating the current floor.
Finding only stairs heading up, they were left with one locked door they hadn't yet searched. Using Kelsier's skeleton key to open it, they entered an office, currently occupied by what appeared to be an angel. The celestial introduced itself as Fandromar, a paladin of good. He was currently seeking one of Keldor's allies, a powerful being named Lucian.
The heroes had their concerns that this might be a trap, since an angel seemed so out of place. Hasdrubal used his magic to investigate Fandromar's thoughts - and discovered he was being possessed by Lucian!
His identity discovered, Lucian attacked the party. The battle was over quickly, and ended with the demon vanquished. The party investigated his office, and found documents revealing the identities of Lucian's agents and spies within the area. Most troubling was that Bildrath, the shopkeeper in Nabreus, was a spy.
Kelsier was also able to find a secret door in the room, at last revealing stairs down. Realizing that this room was relatively secure, the party decided to rest first. Kelsier and Jack were still weakened by spider venom, and required magical healing from Ezarus.
Sufficiently rested, the heroes packed up, and headed down the stairs. A locked iron door barred their way, but was easily opened with a knock. Within, the party found a laboratory. A great vat sat in the centre of the chamber, ﬁlled with roiling pale mucus. From their alcoves to either side, bloated giants stood pulsing and heaving. Two walls of the chamber were lined with tome-stuffed shelves, and a stained desk was shoved into the southwest corner. Behind the vat, a slender ﬁgure in pale leather armor and hood yelled at the party in consternation.
The figure immediately suspected the party of being agents of Keldor's, but they were able to convince her otherwise. She introduced herself as Thredra Aranax, a former servant of Keldor's who now questioned his slipping sanity. Seeking freedom from her mad master, she offered to aid the party - for a price.
In exchange for the tongue of a villager - a living villager - she would tell the heroes where to find the relics of the saints. She also gave the party information on Keldor's allies within the castle - Lucian, the Shadow Demon, and Khyristrix, the Devil.
Kelsier immediately agreed to Thredra's request. Within two weeks, they would give her a village to work her necromantic arts upon. If not, one of the party members would sacrifice their own tongue.
Satisfied, she gave them a ring to protect from Keldor's draining touch, and directions to the castle's crypts. Kelsier thank her for her help, and led the party down a long, fog-filled chamber.
Obscured by fog, Kelsier was unable to see a pit trap. While he was able to avoid it, and Hasdbural was able to float above it, Jack and Ezarus were not so lucky, and fell down a long slide into a flooded dungeon. They barely had time to figure out what had happened before they were attacked by two undead monstrosities.
Jack tried to hold the monsters off on his own, while Kelsier tried to quickly find the relics of the saints and then help his friends. Hasdrubal floated down to the dungeons to lend his aid as well.
Finding the first of the crypts, Kelsier realized he didn't have the skill to unlock the crypt door. He also realized he had sprung another trap - as undead descended upon him! The nimble monk didn't even try to fight. He ran, and quickly dove down the pit trap to rejoin the rest of the party.
End Session 16.
Session 17, in which tragedy befalls the heroes.
Jack had managed to slay one of the undead horrors as Kelsier dropped down from above to assist. Reunited, the heroes were able to kill the second monster, as well as a wraith. Slowly moving through the flooded dungeon, they found a heavy iron door. Unable to pick the lock, they instead turned to brute force and opened it the hard way.
The dungeon exited into a hall, but before they were able to investigate it too far, Kelsier vanished in an explosion of water. Ezarus inspected the spot where Kelsier had once stood, and reasoned that there was a teleportation trap. He would need to study the trap further to discovered where Kelsier had been taken.
In fact, Kelsier was nearby, in a cell in another part of the dungeon - with a zombie trapped alongside him. Quickly killing the zombie, he unlocked the cell and checked out the area. He realized he wasn’t alone - a villager was also trapped. The villager introduced himself as Elim. He was a hunter from Nabreus that had gone looking for treasure in the ruined castle, before becoming trapped down here.
Kelsier realized that Elim’s tongue would be perfect for Thredra’s request. Kelsier was also loud enough that Jack realized the monk was behind a door opposite the dungeon they had fallen into. Breaking down this door, the party was (once again) reunited.
Carefully making their way through the hall, avoiding any further teleportation traps, the heroes broke down a third door. This door opened up into an audience chamber. Two large thrones on a balcony overlooked the ﬂooded chamber. The chamber was ﬁlled with rusted torture equipment. Upon one of the thrones sat Thredra. Upon the other, a spectre sat. Within the chamber, a number of undead and aberrations fought each other. Seeing the intruders, the spectre screamed and attacked, drawing the attention of the rest of the chamber.
Thredra said nothing, content to watch the events unfold. The spectre seemed fixated on Ezarus, darting through the walls, draining his life. Jack and Kelsier were busy fighting the aberration prisoners, and were unable to aid the wizard. At last getting an opening, Jack drew his ghost touch blade, and dispatched the spectre - but it was too late. Ezarus was dead.
The party didn’t have much time to mourn before Ezarus himself rose as a spectre. Fixated on Elim, the spectre that was once Ezarus attacked. Panicking, Elim’s form changed, becoming more wolf-like. The werewolf ran, the spectre in pursuit. Rather than hunt down their former companion, they let him go.
End Session 17.