The Dracholt party makes it through the Blackshire caverns to the witch lady at the very end and locates the seal they had been sent to look for, along with a few other things.
Cast of Characters
Goliath Paladin – Red’s Husband
Lawful Neutral Paladin of Devotion tied strongly to Goliath’s tendencies for meritocracy. Thinks magic is cheating, and has a personality loosely based on Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.
Nick “Pyro” / “Gandra Nox”
Human (Gold Draconic) Sorcerer – Tyrone (older teen girl)
Vigilante-type that masquerades as a Dragonborn-esque creature “Gandra Nox” in order to keep himself safe.
Kobold Warlock – Mort/Blackwold (new DM candidate)
Peddler of fallacies and miracle cures that found a dragon’s scale while helping dig out sewers under Dracholt. Now proclaims the wisdom of the Blood Dragons in loud, Born-again Evangelical style.
Half-Elf Rogue – new player Red’s friends knew
Kildrak Dankil of the Silver Flame
Dwarven Cleric – new but experienced player McFadin knew
Picking up from where we left off, the party was faced with two dozen skeletons, the correct number of which was revealed to them after a few very successful Perception rolls. Amusingly, the characters did very well since the caverns were quite narrow in this case, meaning that they were able to pen in the skeletons. Only one could ever attack in melee, and although a number could shoot bow and arrow back at the party, my tendency for being a nice DM took over – I only ever rolled 6 dice even though more skeletons could have taken the shot according to the cavern layout.
Near the end of the battle, Crux (whose player was a wee bit late) showed up, conjuring a stone wall behind him after learning that the kobolds were evacuating. Upon asking Joe, Crux learned that the kobolds had already lost a number of their people earlier on and did not see the need to waste any more kobold life, especially against another set of clearly powerful adventurers.
Unfortunately, after the party had destroyed the skeletons, Crux left his illusory wall up, prompting a bit of distrust from the other players after their characters interacted with the wall. Kildrak, being a dwarf, was called upon to investigate the mysterious wall, although he easily found it to be illusory after attempting to touch it. Eventually, everyone jumped through the wall, including Crux, who was more thrown through.
The group then continued on, McFadin disarming another tripwire before they stumbled upon a door cut into the cave. Beyond it, a set of rooms more fit for the inside of a keep awaited, the first a large and well-stocked study. As McFadin searched the bookshelves for secret levers, Aldin noticed the books lying open on one table seemed to have been written in the same bizarre language Alpharius was trying to decipher; and one of the pages even had the same sketch of the Lost Seals. Kildrak, meanwhile, dug through the books on one of the shelves, finding a set of handwritten notebooks detailing extensive research into death, decay, undead, and zombies. After the two exchanged a worried glance, Kildrak opened doors onto a washroom and a bedroom, calling for the others to come look at what he had found.
Although most of the bedroom was spartan with only a bed and small footchest, a meticulously crafted dais was at the center of the room with three items atop it: an ornate and clearly magical child-sized glass coffin, a silver baby’s rattle, and a calligraphy poem pressed under glass.
Beautiful child, strong and sweet,
Have kind dreams while you sleep.
Wander safe, away from harm,
Know love would hold you in its arms
Shadows no longer fall across your face
We hope you find protection in this place
Life may have been short and cruel,
But the Lords of Death now shelter you.
Within the coffin was a little boy, his body twisted and deformed, but preserved so well that it only appeared as if he were sleeping. Despite the strangeness of his appearance, he looked as if he would be healthy and strong; this greatly disturbed the party, Aldin insisting that everyone leave the child and his possessions alone.
Leaving the bedroom, the party was then presented with only one way left to go: through a short hallway into a large atrium. On the opposite side from whence they came, an ornate door blocked the path, and off to either side, an iron bar door covered yet more hallways, from which quiet whispers issued. Nick gladly called out to them and was answered with a tentative “Hello?” that prompted the party to investigate. Beyond the iron bar doors were prison cells that held numerous peasants, all of them dirty and mangled, clearly the guinea pigs of cruel experiments. Some were missing entire limbs, others had dead limbs sewn back on, and more were gravely wounded or mutilated. They had been imprissoned by Alaera, and when pressed for what they had done, many stated that they deserved their punishment since it had been their fault Alaera’s child had died. The boy had been taken to a healer to have his deformities removed, but the “healing” had killed him.
As the group continued talking, the ornate door behind them audibly opened, and although Nick went to sneak back and get a look without alerting anything of their presence, Aldin simply strode past him out into the middle of the atrium. As the rest of the party joined him, they were greated by the icy stare of a strange woman in a black dress with a cloak of crows’ feathers. Half of her was beautiful and statuesque; while her left side had been clearly doused in acid, the eye milky white and blind. More importantly, about her neck in a cage of iron chain, are two of the seals the party is looking for.
A tense discussion ensued, McFadin attempting to convince her that they had simply wandered in; while Aldin ensured her that they had killed none of her kobolds, Crux’s presence helping the statement although she seems somewhat annoyed by the kobold as he spouts about the good news of his dragon god. Although not wanting to immediately instigate a fight, Aldin and Kildrak discuss, in Dwarven, what they should do until Crux butts in again, implying that she bathed half of her body in acid for nothing more than fashion.
The rest of the party going silent for a the space of a breath, Crux winced back as Alaera howled in rage, screaming and screeching that he would dare accuse her of something so pithy and banal. Aldin stepped in to stop her advance, blocking her into the doorframe but his sword only cutting through the cloth of her dress, revealing chainmail hidden beneath. Her wild gestures coallesced into a spell, McFadin and Nick immediately finding their eyes useless and blind before Crux answered with a searing bolt of eldritch fire and Aldin swung his blinding sword again.
Chainmail rings clattering to the floor as a splatter of blood sprayed the wall, the light from Aldin’s smiting strike faded to reveal the mad cleric gone, only open air before them. Beyond the door was only a square room, three statues centered on the opposite wall: one a skeletal cloaked figure with hourglass and scythe, one a crazed woman with magic in her hands and membrenous wings sprouting from her shoulders, and one a hulk of a man with feathered wings and a giant smithing hammer held before him.