Pattern Seekers – Episode 13: Dark Castles and Faceless Men16 March, 2013
With some time to rest and ponder after retrieving dragon eggshells, our heroes are again called to serve the designs of the Pattern, being awoken in the middle of the night and given a hand drawn map showing the location of a sword inside a castle. The Shaper informs them that time is of the essence as reinforcement are on their way to the castle and they must retrieve the sword while they can sending them directly on their way with potions and goggles to let them see at night.
Crossing through the gate, they find it is night and giant moths waiting for them. With some reluctance, they climb on the moths and wing through the night sky. An hour or so later, having flown over several small villages, they come into sight of a castle above a town when they are attacked! A large, unnaturally so, hawk with steel-clad talons rips through the wing of one of the moths, ridden by Niko, sending it spiraling down in a slow arc. The other adventurers are remarkable short on ranged attacks, though Tak managed to score a hit with a thrown dagger, the hawk wheels and climbs before striking Mirror’s moth which also begins to descent. In retaliation, Mirror webs the hawk which them plummets from the sky. While the remaining three (Dr. Martin, Tak and Thea) realize that they cannot turn back to help their allies, the moths have their route and stick to it, regardless of their passengers wishes.
Shortly after losing their allies, they land in the castle courtyard, which is surprising. There are no guards, indeed, no indication of anyone at all. Blood trails across the cobble stones and the entire place is deathly quiet. They approach the main doors, which are not locked but blocked. Just as they are going to try and open it, Niko and his moth arrive. Dr Martin using his transmutative chemicals to become a massive being of muscle and they push the door open, finding a dead soldier resting against the door was what was blocking it. The lamps in the castle are burning low or out, making it shadowy and unwelcoming.
Following their map, they descend into the lower levels of the castle. The bestial Dr Martin leads the way and is attacked by four humanoid creatures, featureless, except for large sightless milky white eyes, with claw-tipped over-sized hands and strange fluids dripping down their bodies. They are vicious but quickly dispatched. Continuing down, they make their way through a locked door (due to Niko’s skills) and find an alchemical lab, complete with humans in cages. Niko -of all people- frees the prisoners while the rest of the group continues down, finding another locked down, this one with bodies in front of it. Dr Martin start tossing bodies out of the way, pausing for a moment when one of them says “ow” after being thrown. Thea heals the not-dead person and sends him on his way. Niko opens the door and they move into a floor of rooms and corridors.
Dr Martin, again in the lead, is attacked by a pair of the strange creatures, while engaged with them another one with comically over-sized forearms that jigged and claws that sparked against each other approached and then sprayed out a cloud of oily fluid that it ignited into an unpleasant fireball, which singed and burned everyone but did not put them down. In the lingering acrid smoke, it was torn apart before it could do anymore damage. There way further on was blocked by a reinforced wooded door, which someone had been watching them through its viewing slit. Dr Martin battered down the door by brute strength only to stumble into a field of caltrops and be hit by an acid arrow spell. A confused melee with a necrourgist and his four thrall mionions ensures which ended with the necrourgist voluntarily transforming himself into a thrall in a last ditch attempt to kill our heroes. It failed, but Dr Martin suffered a considerable amount of damage in the process.
They loot the necrourgist’s room, recover the sword (which requires a short ritual) and leave. As they fly off, they notice a group of humanoids with bat-like wings landing in the courtyard behind them . . . They meet up with Mirror at the Gate and return the sword to the Shaper. (What they did not notice was the thrall clinging to the underside of Niko’s moth that slipped through the gate after them.)
What happens on their next adventure.
Notes: As it was Spring Break we were down quite a few players, half of our usual crew in fact. Niko and Mirror’s players were both going to be late (thus their moths going down, which I thought was quite a clever way to control when they arrived). Ultimately, Mirror’s player arrived so late that she decided not to play at all.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.