Second Chances

Second Chances
We pick things up just after Keo roused Flint in the lodge. Both PCs watched in fascination as a ghostly figure emerged from Mara’s greataxe and disappeared inside her bruised and battered body. Before their very eyes, the bruises faded and the wounds closed, and then Mara opened her eyes and sat up … but was it really Mara? They weren’t too sure, and it appeared that she wasn’t either.

Just then, Talis’ last remaining bodyguard smashed down the door to his quarters and came looking for the source of the disturbance that woke him up. He was an older fellow, still bleary-eyed from sleep. Keo used his imposing size to intimidate the cultist into backing down. After promising them that they’d never see him again, the old fellow hot-tailed it down the back stairs.

The surviving heroes then went exploring, only to found Tails’ warm and inviting bedroom. Giving it a good once-over, they were delighted to find a large amount of treasure in Talis’ chest, including a magic figurine of an owl that could transform into a giant owl for a short while! They decided that this was as good a place as any for a much-needed a rest.

First, though, Keo went downstairs and found the lodge’s butler, Gastyn. He told the startled man that Tails was gone and the lodge now belonged to him. Keo suggested that Gastyn find the deed to the place. He then went back up to Talis’ room and attempted to rest.

As the heroes got to talking, it was soon revealed that Mara was no more! Her body, as they suspected, had been possessed by the spirit of her ancestor, Skie, who had been inhabiting her greataxe ever since they’d found her tomb in the catacombs beneath Baldur’s Gate.

Sometime later, they were disturbed by the butler, who informed them that they had some visitors! They turned out to be none other than the young woman and the priest of Lathander they’d rescued from the lodge cellar earlier! The priest, Brother Caemon, explained that, as they were heading through the woods, he’d received a vision from the Morninglord directing him to turn back and help those who had helped him. They had saved his life, so it was time for him to save one of theirs. And with that, he performed a magic ritual that brought Roscoe gasping back to life again!

The head maid, Aerlenga, then brought up some food for everyone and told them that if they were going to go down to the village, they should keep an eye out for her brother-in-law, Gundalin, the village’s wheelwright. He was not a cultist and might be able to help them.

In the middle of the night, the PCs decided it was time to get a move on. They didn’t want to hang around too long, in case Tails came back and/or the flying castle departed without them. Keo summoned up the giant owl, and the party rode it down the mountainside. Circling over the village in the predawn light, they could see bits of a giant-sized castle poking out of a fog-shrouded ravine to the southwest.

As the sun rose, they landed the owl in the woods nearby and slipped into town. The wheelwright wasn’t at his shop, so they went looking for him at the tavern. Quite a few locals, including the wheelwright, were having their breakfasts there, and all were curious about the newcomers. The party was kept busy with plenty of food, drink and questions for at least an hour before they managed to get Gundalin’s attention. He indicated that they should meet him at his shop shortly.

However, as they went to follow him out into the square, the ground rumbled. Rushing outside, they saw that the castle had taken to the sky and was slowly moving up and to the south! They dashed across the square, which had begun filling up with merchants, to Gundalin’s shop. Along the way, Keo noticed one of the locals from the tavern slip up and whisper something to one of the guards in the square, who promptly turned and dashed off down an alley.

Gundalin informed the party that the cult kept a pair of wyvems in the old stable building. He suggested that commandeer the wyvems and fly them up to the castle. They rushed off down the back lanes to the stable and, without too much trouble, managed to saddle up the wyverns and mount them just as the leader of the village’s cultist contingent, a burly dark-skinned man who introduced himself as Captain Othelstan, showed up with his forces.

Although things looked a bit hairy for a bit, the heroes managed to trick Othelstan into believing that they were fellow cultists on an urgent mission to warn Rezmir of Talis’ treachery! While he appeared to buy this story, he wasn’t willing to help them with the wyvems and seemed somewhat amused when Skie and Flint had a bit of trouble getting theirs airborne. (Keo and Roscoe, meanwhile, had no trouble at all getting their wyvern into the air and circling the town.)

Once both wyverns were up in the air and obeying their riders’ orders, they sped into the sky and circle around the giant flying castle. The heroes spotted ogres on the parapets and in the upper courtyard. They also noticed that the central iceberg was riddled with caves. No one appeared to be in the lower courtyard, but they nevertheless chose to land up top, where some ogres were just starting to practice their javelin throwing.

The Giant
Assuming them to be cultists, the ogres escorted the party to their leader, a cloud giant named Blagothkus. Although he was at first angry that some cultists had invaded his private sanctum, the heroes soon revealed their true purpose, at which point Blagothkus calmed down and agreed to talk with them. He admitted that he was indeed carrying a contingent of dragon cultists who were carting stolen treasure to the Well of Dragons, an ancient volcano caldera that dragons have been using as a graveyard for centuries. Once there, the treasure aboard the castle would be added to an even greater hoard fit for the Queen of Dragons herself!

Blagothkus then revealed that he was only aiding the Cult of the Dragon because he wanted to bring the dragons out into the open in order to stir his people out of their complacency and unite them in the face of their ancient foe.

When Roscoe boldly called him out for the illogic of his plan, Blagothkus was impressed and admitted that things weren’t going according to plan. The cultists had brought a vampire with them. The vampire had located the hidden tomb of his dead wife, Esclarotta, and was threatening to desecrate it if he didn’t let the cult take over the castle.

Together, the heroes and the giant lord came up with a plan: the heroes would deal with the vampire while Blagothkus locked himself in the steering tower and turned the castle towards the north, moving it away from the Well of Dragons. He would also enshroud the castle in fog so the cultists couldn’t tell that they had changed direction. Once the vampire was defeated, Blagothkus would help them deal with Rezmir and her underlings, as well as the white dragon that was guarding the treasure hoard in a cave in the iceberg.

The Vampire
Unfortunately for the heroes, the vampire had taken over the top floor of a crumbling tower with no easy entrance. The ground floor door was blocked by a heap of rubble on the inside. There was a door high up on a balcony near the roof, but when Keo climbed up to investigate, his weight was too much for the balcony, and both he and it plunged back down to the ground again. Roscoe then climbed up and tried to wedge a grappling hook into a crack in the tower wall by the door, but he failed and also fell, although Skie managed to catch him. She then climbed up herself and successfully jammed the grappling hook in so the others could climb up a rope.

Busting the door open and leaping into the room, the heroes were immediately set upon by two elven vampire spawn. While Skie and Keo attempted to hold them off, Flint fiddled with a mirror in a vain attempt to direct some sunlight at them. Roscoe, meanwhile, sauntered over to a coffin resting on a mound of dirt in the center of the room.

Popping open the lid, Roscoe found a female elven vampire in sweet repose within. Forgetting what he’d been told about driving a wooden stake through the vampire’s heart, he proceeded to pour a vial of oil over her and light it on fire. Much to his surprise, this merely caused the vampire to wake up and angrily reach out and pull him inside her coffin! She sucked a bit of his blood, then exerted her will and charmed him into serving her.

While Skie and Keo were getting the life sucked out of them by the vampire’s spawn, Flint went over to help Roscoe but ended up being charmed as well. The vampire ordered him to close the door, but Keo managed to stop the dwarf and then smashed the door off its hinges, sending it plunging down to the ground.

Shrieking in rage, the vampire leapt out of her coffin and dashed through the sunlight towards the broken stairs that once led to the tower’s lower floors. Grabbing their bewildered companions, Keo and Skie made a run for it, out into the safety of the sunlight.


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