This session’s recap is brought to you by Flint:
By some miracle Mara stabilised and recovered enough to travel back to the roadhouse with us, where Jamna was reassigned and replaced in the group by the halfling rogue Roscoe. He has a flying snake, which might be useful. I found some time on the journey to study the scrolls and spellbooks I recently acquired from Erevan’s effects and the chest in the caverns and add a few to my repertoire. The swamp crocodile was, thankfully, nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the dragon pickled him.
On returning to the castle, with Roscoe fully briefed on our previous experiences and current assignments, I turned him invisible and he had a scout around the castle in the late afternoon. Then we all went back down to the caverns using Keo’s wonderful water breathing spell again.
As we moved along the passageways we heard voices in the misty cavern where we had previously found the magic portal. We could hear at least three voices which we assumed were cultists tasked with guarding the portal. To minimise the risk of being attacked from behind as we attempted to enter the castle from below, we attacked the guards, killing them quickly and dumping their bodies in the water for the giant frogs to eat.
Moving to the stairwell, the still-invisible Roscoe scouted up and reported back. The first level was muddy with pathways indicated by planks on the mud. We moved up there and barred the door into the hall from the stairwell, then continued up the stairs. The second level stairwell revealed closed doors behind which we could hear snoring and muted conversations. On the third level a cultist was seen through an open door to be reading at a desk while snoring emanated from behind the second door, which was closed.
Roscoe and Mara were able to kill the reading cultist quickly but they made enough noise to disturb the cultists in the other room. The door opened and battle began, made a little awkward by Keo transforming into bear state in the confined space at the top of the stairs and trying to attack the cultists through the doorway while I tried to keep an eye out for anybody coming up the stairs. The cultists knocked out Mara but were all eventually killed, and I poured a healing potion down Mara’s throat.
By now cultists on the lower levels were mobilising and Keo lumbered down the stairs. A few cultists were able to evade his reach and rushed off screaming about a bear attacking them, while the rest were slaughtered. By this time Mara, Keo, and Roscoe needed a bit of healing, and I needed some time to recover some of my magic, so we all went back down to the caverns and used my Rope Trick spell to have a short rest.
During the rest, a detail of lizardfolk searched the caverns but went back up the stairs empty-handed. I don’t know if they were looking for us or for the portal guards we had killed earlier.
With everybody feeling a little better, we went back up the stairs to the first level where the entrance to the main hall was. We had originally barred the door while we cleared out the upper levels of that tower but some of the cultists escaping from Keo’s bear had unbarred it and we hadn’t re-secured it when we were looking for a place to rest. Now Roscoe saw that during the time we had been resting the cultists had been barricading the hall and preparing for a fight.
I came up the stairs behind Roscoe and cast a fireball into the room, killing eight cultists, singeing a few others, and leaving two cultists and a guard drake to fight amongst the barricades and burning debris. The drake was eventually killed but the cultists ran out the side door into the courtyard. Keo, once again in bear guise, followed them to the now-closed keep door. He couldn’t hear anything through the thick door but returned to the main hall when he heard more shouting.
While Keo was outside, I had gone to the kitchen end of the hall and carefully climbed the stairs. The cook threw a meat cleaver at my head from where he and two assistants were hiding in the pantry. They were quickly subdued and tied up. The top dry goods level was cleared and discussion began on how to deal with the keep. Without any climbing spells, entry would have to be by another method than last time.
Moving back to the hall door out to the courtyard, we saw that the keep door was now open! Roscoe rushed out the door to try to get in but was ambushed by a guard drake and a cultist as soon as he left the hall. While we were engaged in battle with those two, the elf teleported into the hall behind us.
Now that I have only one arm, defending myself is so much harder because I can’t carry a shield. In this fight I quickly fell and have been told that Mara defeated the elf and removed the magic ring he was wearing. When I woke up I examined the ring, noting it was an evil magic device associated with Myrkul, god of the dead. It was with misgivings I presented the ring to Snapjaw to pass on to the swamp dragon as promised in return for our lives in the swamp. Finally we entered the southeast tower.
It was empty of people and we explored freely, finding the codeword to activate the magic portal amongst the papers on a desk, many valuable books in a makeshift library, and furnishings which collectors would pay well for. Snapjaw revealed that one of the statues had a magical dagger inside it, which we’ve let Roscoe have. An acid trap on a wardrobe was cleverly avoided when Roscoe used a rope to open the wardrobe door from outside the room. We were all safe when the acid bomb went off but most of the contents of the room was damaged or destroyed. It looked like the black half-dragon Rezmir’s room. We sent a message to Leosin through the Sending Stone, informing him that the castle had been cleared of cultists and that there were valuable books and furnishings to be collected.
The delay in clearing the castle due to Jamna’s departure and Roscoe’s arrival meant that the treasure we have been following appears to have been moved through the portal already. We untied the cooks and returned to the caverns to have a good long rest before we attempt to use the portal and find out where the treasure has gone.