Katsuo is bored. So am I.
Days spent skulking around Badderan searching for who (or what) is making off with the weapons makers is not what either of us signed up for. We want to fight. We need to fight. As we approach Lord Ivan’s keepl for what we hope will be the last time, we can hardly wait.
We arrive as evening approaches, darkness being an excellent time to fight darkness, but Lord Ivan is not at home. His Master of House shows us to a sitting room and offers us refreshments. Tia and Aino plead their need to use the facilities with the plan of sneaking away from their escort. They tell us that they will search the keep for Lord Ivan, but we all know they’re just as likely to ‘explore’ a spare bedroom for half an hour or so. While they search, we wait, still accompanied by at least one servant at all times. Marit is still at the inn, pleading exhaustion at the lateness of the hour, so we indulge in the cheese with no guilt nor recrimination.
Aino and Tia return, having apparently actually searched the keep, and tell us that each hallway (including the one to the basement and the one that presumably leads to the Lord’s chambers) is manned by at least two guards and that there could be up to 100 guards massed in the courtyard. Though this likely has as much to do with the recent ‘beastmen’ attack as our suspicions regarding Lord Ivan, it thrills Katsuo and I. Finally, we can get to business!
Lord Ivan returns and we are invited into the sitting room of his chambers on the third floor. Slowly, we confront him with what we have learned, the dark shadows, how Lady Anna’s people have been taken too, the talisman we found in the shadowy figure that we dispatched… The more we talk, the more nervous the Lord looks, until Sterling’s final admonition hits and the Lord rises to his feet. He explains how he had hoped that our accusations would turn towards Lady Anna, how he had wanted to place suspicion on her. He fears the beastmen and thinks that we should all give in and accept our fate (he clearly hasn’t met a Silverhawk before). He carries himself differently and his eyes blaze. The door to the room locks with a click as he motions in a complicated and strange way and then there are four shadowy figures standing between us and him. Excellent.
The start of the battle happens almost too quickly to note. Lord Ivan fills the room with a fire that engulfs Aino and Sterling and poor Aino is hit by two of the shadow figures. Tia responds and the Lord disappears. Katsuo and I charge forward, swinging at the shadows, damaging one, as does Piotyr. Sterling sends an arrow into the fray. Then Tia’s lighting flares and takes out the rest of the figures.
Katsuo and I hide our disappointment as my siblings search the chambers. Lord Ivan has many books on morbid topics and there is silver scorched into the hardwood, but nothing of note. Aino picks the lock to his bedroom, but it very obviously hasn’t been slept in recently. She cannot pick the lock to the chamber door, but Sterling is successful after Piotyr’s attempt to break down the door only dislocates his shoulder.
We are met by the house guard, including the Master of House. When confronted by the evidence, the Master of House admits that Lord Ivan hasn’t been the same since he received a staff from a relative. He eventually agrees to let us into Lord Ivan’s basement bedroom.
The basement is ill-maintained and we find a tightly-locked door. Sterling attempts to pick it but triggers a trap dart that poisons him. He shakes it off and we continue. The corridor beyond the door is dusty and dark and with Piotyr checking for traps as we go, nobody else is injured. We proceed down the corridor into a small chamber. Our elven friends cannot see any heat but we hear the sound of moaning.
Upon lighting a torch, we see rows of decaying flesh that look suspiciously like the men we were paid to rescue advancing towards us. We recognize them as mooks, easy to kill on their own, but tricky in large groups.
Katsuo and I charge forward, killing one almost immediately. My siblings join us and, one or two at a time, we clear the mob. The mooks provide little in the way of sport, but it is enough to pacify Katsuo and we swing and slash with enthusiasm. When the mob is reduced by a little over half, though, the decimated flesh moulds together into a seething mass of limbs and heads. I pause, shocked and somewhat confused by the suddenness of the change but Katuso urges me forward.
It sees us and we smile. Pyotir quickly finds that the mass can do a lot more damage than the mooks could on their own but we charge bravely forward. Katsuo’s first attack is a miss, but my siblings, no doubt encouraged by our bravery, join the fray. As the battle rages, Katsuo and I are hit, but we draw our strength and continue the attack. Finally, with a mighty swipe of Katuso, the mass splits into a myriad of small pieces of flesh that rain down upon us.
The room cleared, we can see rows of crypts where the dead must have laid. We proceed down the corridor to another chamber with an altar in the centre, but that’s all that we can see because Lord Ivan is standing behind the altar, protected by four more shadowy figures. His eyes glow with a black light and he raises his staff, a twist of dark metal. We have come far enough, he says. Now, we must die.
Undeterred, Katsuo and I charge forward, attacking the shadowy figures that bar the path to our true target. They are larger than any we have encountered before and the Lord is still in control, directing the figures as his staff spews fire. Many of my siblings are injured but they concentrate their attacks on the Lord while Katsuo and Pyotir and I engage the wraiths, who are surprisingly tough. Lord Ivan is defeated by my siblings with their arrows and spells but his staff has a mind of its own and continues its attacks, eventually knocking Pyotir unconscious. Eventually, a barrage of spells weakens it and Sterling’s arrow destroys it. Once the staff melts into the floor, the wraiths disappear, to Katsuo’s chagrin.
The battle over, we summon the guards and the Master of House and quickly provide evidence of Lord Ivan’s ill doing. After some discussion, both Lord Ivan’s Master of House and Lady Anna honour their payment to House Silverhawk. Moreover, the king of Thermos sends us 1000 gold as a gift, his personal thanks, and an invitation to visit him at our leisure. Our reputation in Thermos is maintained and all in Baderan fear the name Silverhawk.
The job completed, my siblings and I turn our heads back to Resolute Manor. The gold that we earned today will do wonders for repairing and restoring our keep but, while Katsuo and I could both use a short rest, our souls still sing for adventure. Hopefully one will find us soon.