Our wizard and invoker have come to a realization that something has finally gone our way. Having finished battling the reluctant Castothrane (Pharasma rest him!), we have unlocked some fortune in our favor. With two anchors gone, we are able to turn undead as well as able to rest fully.
...not that there is great time to rest…. we have less and less time until the chains could start resetting. And with this, I suspect our fortune will dwindle.
Roaming on the third floor, we open a small space to find a secret door. It cannot be picked by Arith, but the three arcanists are able to work a Knock spell and open to reveal many thousand gold coins worth of non-decomposing ritual components. Larisha, Mattea, and River split them evenly.
As we continue, we emerge onto a balcony with improved defenses of sharp points on the balcony. Lachellis wandered too close to the edge, and was bum-rushed by a gargoyle. The creature narrowly missed dragging him off the edge. For this we are thankful – if angry that Lachellis took such a foolish rish.
In the next room is a gong that Lachellis and Arith identify as that used to summon guards. As River and Larisha look into the room – something happens to River. His imp attempts to emerge, but fails. Mattea spots nothing unusual, the same with Maya. Lachellis notes that there is no dust in this room, but we choose to move on rather than exploring.
Next is a second balcony with sharp flanges. We look at it, but we do not go out to be attached by the gargoyles. We wind through a series of empty rooms and find a large, heavy door with a barred grate. It opens to a corridor with some coverage but no roof. at the end of the corridor, there is a similar door. Although we fear it is a gargoyle-trap – we make it through the door with no attack. As we enter the room…
There is a puddle of water in the center of the room – which is nearly empty of furnishing. There is a wide bed hanging a few feet off the floor by chains suspended from the ceiling. There is also a throne overlooking a set of manacles on the floor. A nearby fire grate holds a collection of torturing tools. In outset, spiraling alcoves, there are a set of statues, objects d’art, and other interesting or valuable trinkets.
There are several persons in the room – the most commanding is a winged, devilish Ashmede female made of iron and flesh. With her are four males, armored and with horns, although not of the same race or type of thing. She directs them, in a careless voice, to: “Kill them.” And Pharasma help us, they nearly succeed. Although we start with a good showing of immobilizing the enemy, several of us are stuck with exploding acidic tar-babies. The others are attacked by impish assassins. In the middle of the fight, the door slams shut – leaving the wizard and the ranger alone in the bedroom with the evil flying creature.
But this is not the worst of the battle. We are peppered with questions – each aimed at an individual, but our minds are opened to the Harrow’s Justice for both the question and the question.
To Larisha: “Who in Harrows’s Justice most deserves to die?” (no answer) To Mattea: “Besides yourself, whom of Harrow’s Justice would you most want to save?” (the healer) To River: “Besides yourself, who is the most useless member of the party?” (Mattea, of those damned Harfiks) To Lachellis: “Besides yourself, whom of Harrow’s Justice would you allow to die?” (no answer) To River: “Besides yourself, whom of Harrow’s Justice would you leave as an anchor?” (Arith, because he’s all about standing guard forever.) To Lachellis: “Amongst Harrow’s Justice, besides yourself—” (I’m not answering any more of your fucking questions!) To River: “As a former worshiper of Aroden, are Chelexians the foremost people of the world?” (Obviously, yes.) To Lachellis: “Do nobles inherently ruin any system that you know of?” (Fuck you! I’m still not answering any of your questions!) To River: “Besides yourself, who among Harrow’s Justice is most likely to betray the group?” (Larisha)
Finally, finally! All the enemies outside the room are destroyed. Arith swings open the grille in the door and teleports inside. Lachellis bull-rushes the door, and yet he is unable to break it down. He looks through and gestures – Maya comes gasping back to life. The slime devil on River asks one more question – just for spite. “What is the worst secret you could reveal to the other members of Harrow’s Justice?” (I’ll take that one to my grave.) This makes the devil so mad that he wounds River to the point of unconsciousness before he leaves.
The aura that prevented divination is gone.
The throne has stones worth 20,000 G, if we should take the time to pry them out. There is no mattress – instead, the bed is filled with coins. We leave the coins, but take 132 gems – roughly 13200G. We find three magic items, suitable for Lachellis, Maya, and Mattea. We also find a golden circlet – the one that must have been used to make Castothrane attack us. After Larisha vents her (impotent) fury upon it, we bring that along as well. Perhaps if Castothrane is resurrected as an anchor, we can use it to keep him from attacking us.
In the search afterward, River brushes up against a skull – and a rolling voice pours out in a story. Our best guess is that this is the story of his death. We try others, and we get a similar result. It is revolting. What kind of creature would do this?
We survived. We heal, using as few resources as possible. But the conversation that follows is about the questions that the demons answer. It goes better than I thought it might, though – the discussion is mostly about whether or not it was the best idea to answer the questions or to be hit with the massive psychic damage that we received otherwise. Much much less painful than it could have been.
We carry on, as we must. Some of us desperately need to rest, but the chance of resetting an anchor is to high. We plan to rest after the last anchor. If only we can make it that far.
As we approach the donjon, we see that all openings have been sealed in lead, and the exterior has been scrawled with arcane and religious symbols. We find an area that forbids passage – either good in, or evil out. The Count disables this long enough for us to pass. Through we go!
We enter a room – the creature that steps out looks mummified. He says something that none of us can understand in Ustelav. Shadows emerge, writhing. A brawl ensues. We manage pretty well for our present wounds… until the last moment, when the mummy explodes. Arith, Maya, and Lachellis are all infected with mummy rot. To cure them will take three hours – it’s time we cannot spare, but it’s a situation we cannot leave to fester. We do what we can because we must.
...and then, once again, we seek out our foes.