Castlemourn

Castlemourn Chronicles 5

As the party enter the well-appointed Museum they were awestruck by the seven amazingly lifelike statues. One in particular held their attention. A creature made entirely of water was decoratively laid out over a frozen pool.
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They knew this must be Davinia, the niece of the Marid who has created a portal inside of Reynaldo’s castle to seek after his niece. The creature and the pool were frozen solid by some magical means. Lornel sat down to perform the ritual to detect magical auras while the party investigated the rest of the museum room. One thing that struck Enoch was that the most prominent paintings in the room told the story of two brothers, both nobles, that eventually became estranged with one made a ruler of sorts and the other cast out of the pictures.

Lornel finished his ritual and determined that each of the statues were magical, however, the center statue with four arms and four deadly sabers was a different sort of magic. The party investigated the room further seeking the means to move the water and ice statue to the water portal room. Finally, there attempts turned to experimenting with destroying the container for the ice pool. Upon striking the structure, the four armed statue leapt to life and attacked.
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The party was hard-pressed to fight it off. Niam struck a definitive blow and stunned the creature. Unfortunately, this brought her attention fully upon him and a blinding series of saber slashes struck him down, deeply wounding him across the chest. Lornel moved to magically heal his companion as Elkarena came to the forefront of the battle. The dueling was intense and Elkarena was holding her own until the full focus of the animated statue came toward her. Again, four blurring sabers became an unassailable assault and Elkarena was forced back. Seeing his sister pressed so, Anselo released a mighty bolt of eldritch energy and blasted a hole clean through the statue, ending its terror. That done, they were still no closer to moving Davinia to the portal room. The party continued their investigation, hoping to find a way to free the young Marid girl.

Enoch investigated a side room that contained the broken statuary of Reynaldo’s presumable failures. He searched doggedly and found nothing of value. After he walked out, Anselo thought he too might glance through the room out of curiosity and, lo and behold, underneath the rubble and covered by rock dust, Anselo discovered a curious helmet that proved to be magical.
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Anselo was also becoming more comfortable with displaying a rod he received earlier. The rest of the party had noticed it in a passing manner however no one made any mention of it until Anselo cast an eldritch bolt using the rod and the red gem turned green; the same color as his magical bolts.
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Further investigating the museum proper, they came upon four very unique displays. The first was the God Amaunt in stunning detail. Standing in front of the statue one could feel the God’s strength and controlled fury. But more than that one felt peace in the presence of a protector.
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In the next room was an alabaster statue of a fey creature that seemed somewhat familiar to Anselo. The creature was supremely seductive, if in an evil fashion. Standing in this room one felt deep lust well up for the creature. It was hard to take one’s eyes from her nubile form.
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The next room was a display created on the wall. That of an angelic being, posed in a heroic manner giving the impression of purity and courageous sacrifice. The display was such that it gave the viewer a strong sense of inspiration, as if one could do most anything if this creature could overcome what clearly was a greater trial than the observer would ever face.
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And lastly, a display that took a good portion of the room and caused panic upon just seeing it. A loathsome nightmare of organic corruption more hideous than the blackest conjurations one could imagine flooded out with hysterical madness into the room.
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The effect of the tableau was so alarming that one could not help but stand in magnificent terror as it appeared to seeth, stew, surge, bubble and vomit serpentine slime covered creatures skittering and crawling to escape the yawning hellhole that birthed them, but to no avail, as sickly white tentacles lashed out at the infant monstrosities sucking them back into the dank soup of unknowable horrors. It was impossible to not feel the thrill of excitement and horror upon seeing this display. The emotions welled and skittered in and out of focus as a sane person could not appreciate it fully the pageant. The display urged the viewer to seek the emotion and come closer to understanding, and in so understanding find acceptance for this unnamable thing. Impressed and jarred by the various and contradictory master displays, the party managed to move on without destroying any of the works of art, although Lornel was hard-pressed to do so with regards to the bibbling cauldron of filth.
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Eventually the party came upon a simple room with two boat like objects resting lightly on the floor. Each was made of wood and approximately 2 feet long and had a well in the center in which one could place liquids or objects or one’s feet. Investigating the miniature boats proved them to be obviously magical but provided no clue to their operation. A curtain was also located in this room behind which was the most perfect statue, perhaps, in the entire museum-dungeon. It was a 7 foot tall statue of a fey creature that was beyond beautiful. Every curve and angle was perfectly carved in loving memory of this incredible creature. Anselo stared for a good long while and finally turned away stone-faced.
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Enoch, perhaps in a fit of frustration or perhaps in an inspired moment of violent investigation, took a hammer and smashed in the statue’s face. It proved to be ice and a sophisticated veneer covered it making it appear marble. Good-natured Anselo showed a rare flare of temper and demanded to know why Enoch would do such a horrible thing to such a beautiful statue. Enoch was taken aback and quickly explained that they had discovered things about the nature of the statue and perhaps the nature of all statues in the dungeon by this bold action. Anselo turned away in disgust.

While the party deliberated over the small boats, Elkarena and Anselo explored a side room which proved to be a study. It was covered in pages, canvases, frames, cross braces, and various models of the horrible mechanical/undead contraptions. Their necrotic containment chambers were laid out in design on some of the pages. Inside the room were also many cans of paint, bottles of various fluids and boxes of powders and dust. Anselo took one of the bottles and lifted it to his nose. It smelled, if one could describe such a horrible smell, as a dead, diseased slug mixed with the pungent aroma of spoiled food. The liquid was purple. Anselo tucked it away for his own purposes.

Meanwhile, Enoch, Lornel, Niam, and Acacia continue pondering the mysteries of the boat. Acacia had not been well since the attack of the marionettes. Something in her, broke, at that horrible experience. After that, she mostly followed the party quietly and when trouble came, added her arrows to their defense. But, it was becoming increasingly clear that Acacia was not a well woman. Enoch, who she did not know as well, attempted to engage her in conversation. She grew fearful and knocked an arrow. Lornel approached her and attempted to calm the woman, but when she whispered in a hysterical voice to Lornel, “Who is he?” Lornel responded with a “I don’t know.” Regardless of Lornel’s intentions with this answer, it’s effect on Acacia was instantaneous. She raised her bow and fired at Enoch’s heart. The arrow struck his shoulder and Lornel, Niam and, especially, Enoch were stunned by her action. As she attempted to draw another arrow, Lornel tried to restrain her. Seeing limited success with that, Niam leapt into the air and came down with a precisely controlled punch to her jaw. The effect was immediate. Acacia fell to the ground, unconscious and unhurt. Enoch immediately carried the woman to one of the boats and attempted to prop her up in some fashion with her feet in the well. The reason was not immediately apparent but as Enoch continued his manipulations of Acacia, he took her to the corner of the room. Right at this time, Elkarena and Anselo were rejoining the party. With his shoulder still hurting from the arrow aimed to kill, Enoch expertly applied pressure to Acacia’s spine and covertly snapped her neck. It was done so well and so expertly, that none could see. None but Anselo, who, as luck would have it, had moved to precisely the right location, in precisely the right moment, and clearly observed the murder of Acacia.
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Lornel, Niam and Anselo decided to the presumably unconscious Acacia to the water portal room where their Marid ally might be able to provide some assistance. As the party split, Anselo whispered to Lornel that he saw Enoch murder the disturbed girl and did not know for what reason. It alarmed him greatly as, if Enoch was killing those who attacked him, for whatever reason, that put Anselo in the bullseye, as he had earlier attacked the man in his maniacal obsession over the gambling device. Anselo and Lornel kept this information to themselves, for the time being, as they approached the Marid.

The Marid immediately appeared upon the three of them entering the water portal room. Through negotiations with Lugh, the water Marid, Anselo, Lornel and Niam were able to ascertain the command words for the boats which proved to be floating tugboats of a sort. Used, along with a net that was mentioned, they moved statuary around the museum. The Marid also politely but firmly told him that his water portal room was no place to discard their dead bodies and if they could remove their dead associate, that would be best. Lornel took Acacia and, in an odd reflection of what may have happened 150 years ago, he put her body in the same freezer which, earlier had belched a zombified body who had attacked them. With things settled with the Marid, they came back to join the party. Anselo announced that Acacia was dead and they tucked her into the enchanted freezer. Enoch feigned shock and Elkarena seemed nonplussed by the news. Acacia’s death was dropped in lieu of discovering the mysteries of the boat.

After returning, the party moved throughout the rest of the museum rooms and discovered two replicas of living creatures. One appeared to be a swarthy, handsome man in his mid-30s, and another, a beautiful young woman with startling red eyes. The woman felt lifelike in every detail and Lornel, respectfully, did a full examination of her. He insisted she was a person, for all he could tell, but paralyzed and unable to move. The male figure, although appearing equally alive and perfect in every way, was frozen and stiff to the touch. Noting this oddity, the party moved on. Around the next corner they found a tapestry with the exact same imagery as the painting in the Thaele actor’s room earlier. The party decided the tapestry would probably fetch a handsome sum and decided to take it with them.

Finally, with the enchanted “tug’ boats, they had the means to move Davinia to the water portal room. Experimenting with the tugboats, Lornel took mental control of them and begin to push the immense statuary and ice toward the portal room. It proved incredibly difficult and Lornel’s will was only strong enough to move Davinia so far before he collapsed, very nearly dead. Anselo took control of the boats and continued the journey, the boats moved sluggishly but they were making progress with Anselo showing some signs of strain. It was only a short until Elkarena lost patience. Seeing the effort in Anselo’s countenance and, not wanting her brother lying on the floor like Lornel, she decided to take over their command. There was some protest from Anselo but Elkarena just mentally wrenched the boats from Anselo’s grasp and easily moved them into the portal room. As she commanded the tugboats to push the sculpture through the portal room door, she mumbled something under her breath. Perhaps it was, “I don’t see what all the fuss was about,” or maybe it was just a muttered prayer of thanks to The Seven.
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Finally, the Madrid Lugh, was reunited with his niece, Davinia. Through his own water magics, he melted the ice keeping her prisoner and her water form splashed into the pool then quickly emptied into the water portal basin. Davinia came up from the water where she and Lugh had a joyous reunion, albeit in the language no one in the party understood. After a moment, Davinia waved goodbye, sinking into the water and disappearing into her own realm.

Lugh turned to the party, very appreciative and graciously fulfilled his part of the bargain. A soggy bag of 50 gold coins came to the surface and was placed in front of the party. Lugh also identified, through his own mystical means, the enchanted items the party had found throughout Reynaldo’s castle.

The rod was called a rod of the pact keeper and it enhanced a warlock’s attunement to his benefactor, making the ties stronger and the power more easily accessible. The helmet, although old-fashioned and slightly odd in appearance, was created for a companion of Reynaldo’s who was one of his most stalwart defenders. The helmet protected anyone from the effects of mental assaults and charm magics. It also allowed the wearer to focus intently on one other person and fill them with a sense of inspiration and courage for a moment’s time. The party then asked to identify the Raven which they had carried with them all this time.
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At determining the Raven’s powers, Lugh gave them a grave warning. He said the Raven was called the Song of Quinaria and was an ancient artifact from the time of The Fall. Although no one in the party was anywhere near powerful enough to use such a thing, there were many beings who were, and they would be seeking the Raven. Lugh supposed the party’s time in stasis in the castle had forestalled the inevitable and perhaps thrown off the pursuers but he assured them powerful forces would be coming for The Song of Quinaria. It was said the song would “open the portal and the dead shall answer the call.”

Deciding that nothing more remained in the castle that was of any interest to the party, they decided to return to Zroas where Hanzi must certainly be beside himself with worry after not hearing from them for more than a year. The only problem that still remained was Lornel was beyond the ability to heal himself and, being a Thaele creature, the only nourishment that would sustain him was from the living blood of a creature. None of that was to be had in the dungeon. The party rested until they determined they could move safely through the dungeon and outside. Lornel fashioned a litter, of sorts, out of the tugboats and brought himself to the top of the stairs leading out of the dungeon.

After some mishaps with forgetting the teleportation protections of Reynaldo’s castle, the party managed to escape into the wilderness. Once there, plentiful game revived all the party, but most notably Lornel. The party camped for days and during this time most the injuries they had sustained healed naturally. After a weeks’ time, the party felt fully refreshed and ready to journey back to Zroas. The trip was mostly uneventful, the small exception being camping within earshot of gnolls performing some sort of mongrel ritual throughout the night and keeping everybody awake. As they approached closer to Zroas, they managed to hitch a ride with a merchant wagon headed the same direction. This gave the Carvhalos a chance to rest. Lornel, understandably, stayed back from the caravan and Niam kept him company. Enoch stayed atop is horse and rode amiably beside the merchant wagon.
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Eventually, after what seemed like so long a time, the party came within sight of the merchant town of Zroas. More than a year had passed since most of them have seen civilization and the sight was one to heal their wounded hearts as the wilderness had healed their bodies. As they grew closer, they could feel their spirits lift, as if the town radiated goodwill toward them.

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JimWayne

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