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Defenders Adventure #50: A Crowded Room

Party Roster:

Felix, 6th level fighter, 59 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 6th level fighter, 56 hp, played by Joel
Kodo, 4th level woodsman, 47 hp, played by Rob
Morgan, 6th level fighter, 35 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 7th level druid, 31 hp, played by Jeremy
Cassian, 5th level cleric, 31 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 4th level cleric, 27 hp, played by Jeff
Donald, 5th level mage, 27 hp, NPC
Alduin, 5th level thief, 19 hp, played by Vic

The party was busy interrogating Black Eagle, the man we had beaten up upon entering the room. We were unable to get much information out of him, and we decided to wait until either Detect Charm could be cast by Kain (spellshifting) or another person entered the room.

After about a half hour, a man in banded mail, shield, and carrying a scimitar entered the room. He was yanked in by Kodo and Cassian shut the door behind him. He was smashed handily by Felix and Morgan (for stun damage) and he fell down (though barely). This was done with stun damage so that he would be relatively uninjured.

We spoke with him, and this guy seemed to be a complete idiot. He was telling us quite a bit until it FINALLY dawned on him that we were asking him sensitive questions about the mistress, and he shut up. He took awhile even to notice that we had stuffed the other prisoner under the bed. We learned that the mistress of beauty was named Irinia and lived in the castle. The guy was also a zealot/ charmed pansy, but he served for motivations other than outright love. He was worried about the others who weren’t charmed, including the most disturbing of all: the “wizard” who could shapeshift, Caxathros. He had little idea what was going on.

The conversation was interrupted as someone else entered the room. Our next victim was a weird looking guy with strange skin pigments and paints on him. He was carrying a halberd. Kodo grabbed him and Cassian shut the door again, but he had time for a swing. Unfortunately, he chose Morgan, and missed. Then he went down under a hefty amount of damage.

This guy seemed like a mean one. He said he was from southern Tugut, apparently one of the barbarian groups. His response to us was: “You guys are fuckheads. Can I join up?” He spoke in Common as well as human. He was a mercenary. Our other prisoner thought he was exceptionally cruel. The barbarian mentioned that Black Eagle served “the bitch” only out of hopes for “favors” and there was some undignified thrashing from under the bed at that comment. Apparently Black Eagle spoke Common.

We rejected the barbarian’s offer of 2000 gp for his services, and knocked him out. However, he did tell us a bit more about the fortress itself and what had been going on.
A group of three men walked past, and we decided they were too many to take out without some risk.

Then a single man walked by wearing leather armor and carrying a bow. He was rather surprised to see the door open by itself, revealing Kain, who tried Hold him. He resisted, but then the fighters knocked him down.

We waited for one final captive, though I can’t remember what he was equipped with. He went down easily enough.

We unequipped everyone, and then Cassian threw her Dispel Magic. The scimitar man (the second captive, the dumb one) suddenly grew agitated and we removed the gag. He was uncharmed, and he was quite angry. His name is Keldarin. He thanked us for saving him and explained a lot more about what was going on. I’ll get to specifics later, but he proved to be a true ally and a huge boon to our information quest. He indicated that the servants were probably not charmed, and that he new the butler and one other were a good sort. He went out into the halls and got the butler, who returned with him.

“You are the intruders?” he said in a very butlerish voice when he entered.

We nodded, and the butler turned out to be a fantastic move. He told us EVERYTHING he knew. Here is what we know:

We now have a reasonably accurate map of the entire flying castle. It has six towers and a seventh secret one in the middle of the central courtyard. There are two manticores running loose about the castle with orders to attack anyone not working for Irinia. The cockatrices are constrained to the back balcony. There are eight gargoyles, two of which are greater gargoyles. There are two displacer beasts. About half of the guards are charmed, though only some of them may be trustworthy if uncharmed. The butler knows the circumstances of everyone’s arrival and admits that he is the only remaining person who knows ALL the secrets of the castle.

Once we assured him we would attempt the mission, he gave us a full rundown on the situation.

Alarius is the high wizard of the entire Realm, an archmage, and this is his castle. Irinia was one of his students twenty years earlier, and she quit when she grew tired of research. She is immensely powerful though not on a par with Alarius. Irinia’s father was a nobleman who sided with the dictator when the Realmish civil war began, and he submitted to house arrest upon the defeat of loyalist forces. Irinia resolved to regain her father’s kingdom and decided to take Alarius’ castle for herself.

When Alarius realized that the castle was lost, he fled to the seventh central tower, his traditional home of research since it was scry-proof. Irinia could not follow him as the tower shifted to another plane of existence. This was done through the power of six crystals that are the power plant of the castle. Additionally, the crystals were protected in such a way that only one of good alignment, and uncharmed, can affect the crystals. However, Irinia was able to have the crystals moved to each of the six towers separately.

She was unable to gain control of the castle and the fact that it still exists is a testament to the fact that Alarius is still alive, although trapped. She can simply let the castle drift with the wind until she can find the power to gain control of the castle. However, she does have a crystal that acts as an anchor.

Of the original five servants present when Irinia took over, three have died. Only the butler and cook remain. The butler had worked for Alarius for thirty-five years and knew all of the castle’s secrets. He saw people acquired when they came to castle expecting to find Alarius. Of the people off-duty there were two others he thought would make good allies if uncharmed—the former caravan guard and the guard at the Universitus. He was uncertain about the other eight or so.

Caxathros is a weird creature, perhaps not human, who appeared one day and not through the front door. He does little but clearly has frightening powers, including an apparent gaze attack that causes the victim to fall unconscious.

Kendall is the guard captain, a man who would be our enemy under any circumstances. He is very dangerous.

Keldarin, the scimitar man, indicated that he wanted to take out Irinia. The butler is obviously enraged by her invasion as well. We decided to attempt the mission. Our hand was somewhat forced when we discovered that Caxathros’ mission in raven form had been to obtain the anchor crystal, and that the ship was moving again, though it was still over land.

Tensil is the only remaining student of Alarius’. He has few combat spells but would be able to help us, except that he may be dead. Realizing that the castle was over Barnacus, he grabbed the anchor and threw it off the ship in the hopes of attracting the Hand of Fate, whom he knew to be reasonably powerful. They had done a service for the Emperor in the past and he hoped they could help.

Of course, the Hand of Fate are currently in Cromwell helping solidify the western borders. Tensil wanted the Hand of Fate, and instead he ends up with the Defenders. What an ironic twist!

His treachery was discovered and he was beaten severely (the bloody man being dragged that Urides, Cassian’s hawk, saw earlier). He is either imprisoned or dead. He was traditionally supposed to be doing research in the laboratory and was always accompanied by a large group of guards.

The butler also told us that the doors would open with command word we knew, Castle of Diamond, but that anything else would result in the doors killing us. He also explained about the rainbow bridge—it was generated by the crystal and saying two rather whimsical phrases to raise and lower it.

He also said that he had access to the amazingly well-hidden armory. It is protected by a Symbol spell which will kill anyone who doesn’t do the correct motions (which he taught us). The armory was setup for Alarius to have a quick escape route and some defenses. In addition it is totally scry-proof, and if we were to hide in there without Irinia seeing us, we would be safe indefinitely. She still does not know the room.

The butler went to the armory and brought us:

2 Potions of Extra-Healing
Elixir of Health (we find these all over the place)
Potion of Vitality (heal quickly, immune to poison, don’t eat or drink, for a week!)
Dagger +3
A scroll with Haste, Fly, Teleport with Error, and Limited Wish


Of course, Donald casting 7th level spells is a hideous proposition, but the others are quite amusing. Since they were cast at 18th level, the Fly lasts 3-4 hours! And the Haste can affect up to EIGHTEEN people.

We were floored. Let’s take this castle!

Now two conflicting plans sprung into mind. Could we actually retrieve all six crystals without Irinia ambushing us at some point? She probably has some sort of alarm (though maybe not) and would be waiting for us at one of the crystals, figuring that five are useless without the sixth.

Keldarin went into the only tower he was allowed in, the training room. There Kendall and three others were drilling. Keldarin thinks the crystal is in the red light suspended from the ceiling. They certainly aren’t in plain sight, and Irinia would have plenty of time to prepare for us if we attempted this first. The idea would be grab the crystals and free Alarius, who could trash Irinia.

The second plan involved finding a way to ambush Irinia. If we could get her alone, all her wizardly power would not help her if we could kill her quickly. This is obviously hideously dangerous as she is obscenely powerful, but if we can Silence her and just deal enough damage, she won’t survive long enough to kill us.

A possible plan would involve Keldarin or one of the other uncharmed guards finding her and asking her for help about something. When she walks to the door, we hit her hard.

It should be noted that Quentin (in crow form) and Alduin are still invisible.

Since it seems that she will find us anyway, it would be better to engage Irinia on our terms and hope she can’t summon help. The idea of fighting two manticores, eight gargoyles, two displacers beasts, a weird shapeshifter, and the rest of guards is a horrifying thought, but we still have the element of surprise. We will be undetected for at least five more hours after the spellshift.

Keldarin retrieved the other charmed people, who we knocked out and tied up. We have just finished spell-shifting and are about to pick new spells. A few will be Dispel Magics, so that we can free these allies. There is an additional debate about whether we should grab more guards first.

The disadvantage is that they are on duty and that would be the start of our attack, leaving us no time to gain information from the allied guards we just freed. The advantage would be additional confusion and fewer enemies to face.

The exciting conclusion will be next week!



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