Monday, October 17, 2016

The Master Claims a Soul

Tobias and Tristan's exploration of the Unseelie fey manse in the last session gave the group a good idea of its layout and its diplomatic purpose, but it didn't necessarily point in a definite direction as to how to proceed. There was some talk of returning to the manse to rescue the abducted child kept by the Lover of Twilight; the idea of tracking down the Knights of Lilith to forge an alliance against the Master was considered; finding an alternate cure for the curse that afflicts Kylic, Tristan, and Luka was a possibility; investigating Ivara or the Rue sisters was also floated as a potential course of action.

Ultimately, Kylic decided that it was best to confront the Master's threat against Krevborna directly. By using the fingerbone of St. Othric, Kylic had a vague notion of where they could find the Master. Kylic assembled a crew with Anton and Tobias, and hired a young coachman named Rafael to drive their carriage. Since the saintly relic pointed south and east, the group was traveling toward Krevborna's coast. The dog days of summer had ended, the air is turning chill and the leaves have begun to turn as the harvest approaches.

Eventually they were forced to abandon the roads and travel across open ground. The fingerbone finally brought the party into view of a black castle that sat upon a rocky outcropping of a dark stone precipice overlooking the sea. The castle looked to be in good repair, and yet, there was no well-worn path leading up to it; the castle looked as though it has simply been dropped into place. Oddly, no one in the party had ever heard of a castle being located in this particular place.

Since the group had arrived at the castle toward the end of day, they decided to make camp and approach the castle under the full light of the sun. Unfortunately, Anton was surprised during his watch by a cold "hand" upon his neck that drained his strength. Anton shouted a warning to his friends sleeping in the carriage and engaged the man-shaped shadowy figure that had attacked him as a similar blot of vile darkness approached the carriage's door. 

Despite the creature continuing to drain his strength, Anton's agility and prowess with a rapier got the best of the shadow-monster. Tobias blasted the figure of darkness through the window of the carriage--destroying the window in the process--but the figure still managed to reach in and drain away his vitality as well. Kylic tapped into the power of the cosmos and managed to banish the remaining shadow-monster. The party saw that it snaked away into the night and made its way toward the black castle on the precipice. 

The party chose to take another extended rest to regain their strength after the night's skirmish, putting their approach of the castle at midday rather than morning. The gate of black iron bars proved to be a challenge to entry, as it had no hinges to swing upon and no obvious way to raise or lower it. Anton decided that the easiest way through was over the walls. Using a grappling hook, he managed to scale the wall; luckily, he was able to avoid the shards of broken glass that had been embedded in the top of the wall. Wrapping his hand in his cloak, Anton smashed the glass away in an area large enough to make for safe passage over the wall for his compatriots.

The castle proved to have three stories, a number of connected towers, stained glass windows throughout the second and third levels, and only one obvious door at the front. Tobias sent Malphas to scout the perimeter of the castle, which discovered an ornate spiral staircase decorated with heraldic beasts that led up to a door on the second floor. It was decided that the back entry perhaps provided a safer entrance into the castle.

Anton attempted to pick the lock on the door at the top of the stairs, but found it immediately beyond his abilities. Other methods of entry were discussed, but Anton decided to give the lock another go. As he bent to work on it again, the door swung open on its hinges ominously. Within the room stood a long dining table. At one side of the table sat two bloated and eyeless corpses. On the wall facing the party was hung a painting consisting of two panels: one panel showed a religious figure in a white cassock being led in chains by fiends, the other panel showed the same figure in the white cassock having his tongue removed by fiends using metal pincers.

The party cautiously edged their way past the corpses at the table by sticking to the opposite side of the room. The door near the disturbing painting led them into a hallway, where they began to open doors to get the lay of the land, discovering a grand staircase leading down to the castle's main entrance and a conservatory equipped with a pipe organ. A crash was heard from the room they had just left, a likely indication that the corpses had left their seats and were coming after the group now that they were within the interior of the castle.

Anton hid in the room with the pipe organ, setting himself up to snipe at the corpses. Kylic readied himself to take action should a corpse appear in the doorway, which it did. Using his mystical power, Kylic slammed the door shut in its face. Meanwhile, one of the bloated, gas-distended corpses entered the room that Anton was hiding in from the adjoining door between the conservatory and the dining room. The shambling corpse did not notice him, which allowed him to pierce its belly with an arrow. A hiss of escaping fumes could be heard issuing from the wound. Now that the animate dead thing knew Anton was in the room, combat was joined. Switching to his rapier, Anton proceeded to stab the abomination in its gut, releasing more and more of the gas within it until its belly hung like a deflated balloon. Unfortunately, in the process Anton took a number of vicious, stunning blows from the thing's decaying fist. A final blow sent him reeling to the ground and everything went black for the ne'er-do-well nobleman.

Things were also grim in the hallway, where Kylic attempted to shield Tobias as the warlock attempted to best the walking dead man that had shattered the door and was now attacking them. Kylic took several wounds from the undead monstrosity, but kept himself alive through healing magic, all the while Tobias was blasting away at it with his fell sorcery. 

The situation became dire when the shambling corpse that had felled Anton stepped into the hallway behind Tobias and Kylic. Tobias turned his attention to the new interloper and dispatched the already badly-damaged thing with a well-placed blast of eldritch power. Kylic chose to risk taking a glancing blow from the monster he had been holding at bay to rush to the side of Anton. Tobias managed to blast apart the final abomination.

It was, however, too late for Anton Sellvek. Though he made a valiant effort to to save his compatriot, Kylic arrived in time to hear the death rattle of his fellow adventurer.

Deciding, perhaps wisely, that the black castle had already taken too much from them, Tobias and Kylic carried Anton's body from this sad scene and made good their retreat. On the way through the dining room to the black spiral stairs, Tobias noticed that the figure in the white cassock being tormented by fiends in the painting had been replaced by the likeness of Anton Sellvek, now forever trapped in spirit within the Black Castle of the Master.

Back in Chancel, funeral rites were performed for Anton Sellvek. Attending were a number of Anton's upper-class swells from his gambling and drinking forays, as well as an inconsolable Mirella--the woman who still assumed that the dead man she mourned was her savior.

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The Spoils
XP - 693 each

Krevborna Death Count