Heart of Darkness Session XVIII

“The Dead and the Jailer” - 2018-12-01

Party: Rylin (Rob) Vladmir (DM-run) Willoa (Rachel) Xenathar (Cody)

The party lands outside of the Ringwall and does a half-day walk to the Castle Shining, the elven fortress at which they hope to find the upper echelon of the United Mages Guild. As they near the castle, they see that its once pristine white walls are clouded, grey. They are muddied and blood-spattered, and a sort of ashen dust has descended across the fortress. The stench of death in the air is strong, almost overpowering, and they see that there are dozens, hundreds of bodies littering the ground outside the fortress. The gates hang, swinging, from a single hinge each, what is left of them, their shattered remains creaking as they move to and fro in the breeze. The portcullis still sits in place, but a hole large enough for a small giant has been melted through the massive iron bars, rendering them useless. Although it seems easy enough for any passerby to approach or enter the courtyard freely, as the entry is unsecured and unguarded, there is nothing alive, nothing moving, outside or in. The nearby countryside is desolate.

The party enters the courtyard, picking through the bodies, and approaches the keep. The keep's doorway is open but has some sort of magical barrier shielding it. The party turns to investigate elsewhere and the dead begin to rise in the courtyard. After dispatching the skeletons and zombies, the party turns back to looking around the courtyard. As they approach the stables, a skeletal dragon smashes out and attacks the party.

After dealing with the dragon, the sorcerer investigates and determines that the creature must have been created by an extremely powerful necromancer. The party searches through the buildings in the courtyard, finding various items and trying to get a sense for what happened here. They find the bodies of Dragonsworn, elven soldiers, and Guild mages. They end up heading down into a dungeon, where they find two people in cells, still alive after weeks or months of imprisonment. In the center of the dungeon is a behemoth undead monster made of the bodies of the dead. It has a yawning mouth full of razor teeth, and a massive chain embedded in its arm which it wields like a weapon, trying to capture and cage Rylin. The party slays the repulsive monster and frees the prisoners, the castle cook and the captain of the guard.

After speaking to the prisoners and letting them go their way, the party barricades themselves into the guest quarters to mend wounds and rest. They hope to check the towers, activate the devices in each to bring down the keep's shield, and find their way into the keep in the early morning.