Campaign V: Chapter Two, Mission Thirteen

Recap: After receiving their knight-hood, the party was filled in on the specifics of their mission, and given all the knowledge that the Baron Sadic had at his disposal. A dragon had been cut in half by something, on the northern end of the Gaebrum Forest. The dragons are very frightened by whatever this thing is, and would like the party to investigate, and possibly destroy, whatever it is. The only clue they have is a path of theft and destruction in a northward line, running from Nile, to Anolineth, to Rudan. The Baron Sadic would acquire their wish-list of items, and then they would set sail for Maddog Island. From the Tower on Maddog Island, they would jump to a small barony near the corpse of the dragon, and in the direct line of destruction. They were given a succor disk, to be broken the moment they discovered anything.

With a week's delay, the group set out, and then jumped in to the northern Gaebrum Forest. Phoenix was able to scout out the location of the barony, and the front half of the dragon's corpse, with her wild shaped eagle form. A group of people had set about cleaning the dragon's skull, and gathering together its body parts for strange uses. Disguised as no one in particular, the party asked quiet questions, before being expelled for Faeradd's mention of 'magic'. (Faeradd has a bad habit of getting the group in trouble, talking too much and too often about magic...)

From there, the party went into the barony itself, appearing as themselves and causing a serious uproar. Scared half out of their wits, the people summoned the local baron, who reluctantly agreed to put them up in the inn -- only after the priest condemned them, and the baron was forced to recognize powerful magic.

Operating on past experience, the party knew that a runner was being immediately sent to the nearest bastion of the Inquisition, and a quick reconnaisance by Phoenix and Zan... removed the threat. Phoenix was furious at Zan's callous disregard for life, but his impeccable logic -- and the fact that there was nothing she could do -- quelled most of the arguments.

In the morning, the party explored the nearly deserted town -- deserted because the townspeople had fled the harbingers of magic and doom. The reluctantly compliant baron and his aid told the party as much as possible, in order to defend the barony against the great evil that could destroy even a dragon. (It turned out that it was students of some sort that were analyzing the dragon's remains, but they fled into the forest when Phoenix unleashed her wrath on them.) Beneath the baron's manor lay catacombs of his ancestors, with a few items that had taken on magical auras because of heavy use and blessings. That might be a target for whatever was raiding the cities and killed the dragon, but...

Some intuitive investigating revealed an ancient catacomb beneath the church, long since covered up and buried. With the help of Faeradd's familiar, and Sam's strength, the party was able to enter through a sewer grate -- in a town with no sewers. Below, they discovered a dozen sarcophagi belonging to the Drik Morai -- the most elite of the dragon slayers of the First Crusades. Exchanging knowing looks, the party realized that there was the target of 'whatever-it-was'.

The waiting began.

And in the night, it came. A tower, floating in the air, with a strange throbbing noise that made the bones ache and the mind wary -- disgorged dozens of headless brutes whose eyes glowed in their chests. The moment they began brutely forcing themselves into the Drik Morai catacombs, the party attacked -- only to be stymied. Sam proved immune to the attacks of these headless stone golems, but the golems were decimating everyone else they met. Phoenix's spells were partially effective in slowing them down -- until the additional tower showed up.

Sam was cutting the golems down rather quickly, but the new tower dropped in golems twice again -- and thrice again -- as tall as him. By sheer numbers, the golems were wearing the party down. The bigger golems could make a man insane, with all the undead held barely within them. The towers would make a man insane, as they did to Faeradd. It was time to break the succor disk. Only...

The village priest, far out of his depth, had lied to the Baron and the Bishop Dwarfendale, when he appeared at the breaking of the succor disk. There would be no rescue. "All was just fine, your worship. Just fine. It was an accident, I'm afraid." With some forceful mind-changing, the priest was convinced to help them, even after his ruse, and a scroll of the baron's helped restore Faeradd.

Zan and Faeradd managed to assassinate a human atop the second tower, a hundred feet in the air -- but the golems continued on, relentlessly. And then the other towers appeared, and the castles, and the Gate-keeper. The Gate-keeper was enormous, a golem whose mouth was the gate of the ancient castle had come from. Beneath it, ghosts and wraiths circled, aching for prey. The Gate-keeper could bite a dragon in half.

Retreating into the catacombs beneath the baron's manor, they fought the golems off -- until they withdrew. Whomever controlled them had gotten the real treasure. The paltry things of the baron's ancestors was beneath the loss of so many golems. Before the towers could withdraw with the remaining golems, the party boarded one -- ensorcelled with invisibility.

And best yet, the Baron and the Bishop was waiting on them. He and a dozen of his warriors, plus members of Lok Magius, poured through a ring of bluest light. The baron had cast an augury about the lying priest's words, and Galgiran had spoken.

The battle began in earnest, then. The mages attacked the Gate-keeper, while the Baron and the Bishop waited below with a small strike-force, and a signal from Sam and the rest to pour through. They got it, and then all hell broke loose. Globes of darkness. Faeradd was turned permanently green. Invisible mages. Hasted underlings. Lightning bolts from above. Greased floors. Confused golems. Illusory savants. And golems -- so many, many golems bearing down on them all the time.

The castle and its components plunged into the Aboriac Sea, but not before one of Dwarfendale's dragon reinforcements managed to snag the treasuries of a half dozen cities -- and give it as a gift to the party. Beaten and wounded, they were unbroken.

Sam learned that he did, indeed, have great power. And with great power, comes great responsibility. He decided to return to the Alekdan Principalities with Earl, and attempt to corrupt a corrupt system from the inside.

Phoenix and Cala decided to stay on in Rakore, and learn from the green druid dragon there, using his flight and connections to spread the druidic faith.

Faeradd and Fitz opted to stay on with Lok Magius, and the Baron and the Bishop Dwarfendale.

Zan set up the first underground thieves' guild in Rakore, fencing continually with the law, and always one step ahead of being caught.

Ahira decided to stay on in the service of Gideon Enterprises, and serve the Rakoran ideal as best he could.

And so ends Chapter Three...

DM's Notes: See Castle Rezjomon.