The Castle at the Edge of the World

The Treasure of the Red King

They descend into the slimy dankness of the well. The bodies of the four dead guardsmen and the cross dressing porter bob in the water below the passage that leads out the side of the well. Everything smells of copper and mildew. They avoid the three triggers on the stairs that will instantly flood the well drowning them under thousands of gallons of water. The short narrow tunnel leads to a verdigrised copper plug thirty feet in. With some searching they find the hidden catch that causes the plug to slide out allowing them access beyond.

A short hall leads them to a large domed chamber. In the center is a short dias with three taxidermy mounts. A unicorn, a centaur, and a griffin. The chamber is decorated in grand style with a forest mural depicting a night time woodland scene with hundreds of hidden scenes. It is inlaid with lapis lazuli, amythys and emeralds. At first the mural seems benign but the more they look at it the more ill at ease they become. First the notice a wolf with emerald eyes dragging a body into brush littered with ivory bones. Then they see a coven of witches boiling children in a cauldron. One of the dark sisters works to push one of her victims into the cauldron with a large paddle. Overhead among the swirling pattern of diamond stars strange shadows gather. The longer they look at the mural the more sinister the scenes become. What is worse is that they always seem to be noticing movement out of the corner of their eye. Laeoden is the first to notice it. Every time they look away from the taxidermy mounts they have moved in subtle ways. The unicorns horn has dipped. The griffin has turned a gimlet eye in their direction. The centaur has raised his club ever so slightly. They never seem to move when they are looking at them but every time they blink or look away something has changed. Soon a sense of creeping paranoia fills their minds and they are loathe to look away from the mounts. Laeoden’s heart is filled with fear. The other’s resist. Aether back’s out of the room into the hall. Laeoden draws his sword and calls them to aid his fight. The others seem confused the feeling of unease has passed for them. They can clearly see that the taxidermied menagerie are in the same place they were when they arrived. They can even see that they aren’t even the creatures they pretend to be but have been built piecemeal. The centaur has begun to leak sawdust. Laeoden again yells for help as some invisible force strikes him in the head and chest sending blood flying from his lips. Aether conjures an illusionary wall to block Laeoden from his terrors. Thorock and Darian try to convince Laeoden what he is experiencing is in his own mind. That he has been set upon by dark sorcery and not living beasts. He does not believe them. He begs for help saying that they will soon be through the wall. Thorock and Darian drag him out of the room and back into the hall breaking the spell.

Laeoden calms and they return to the room. The magic of the place attempts a second assault but they are ready for it and resist. They cross the chamber to the door on the opposite side. Through skill and magic they determine that it is trapped. Tracks through the dust of ages show that it was approached not opened. They find the actual exit to the room hidden by a masterful work of Tromploy. They continue through death trap after death trap both mundane and magical till they reach another chamber.

Here there are weapons of war claimed by the previous Red Kings during the Shining Crusade and the times before. There are many magical prizes here. Laeoden tries to pick up an obsidian dagger but is possessed by a spirit inhabiting the knife. The others are forced to beat him until the knife is knocked from his hands. Aether claims a holy water Aspergillum. Laeoden tries his luck again with a rapier. Its basket hilt has been worked to look like a snake wound arond the cross bar and knotted on itself. It’s pattern welded blade glitters in the torch light. When he picks up the sword the snake animates, looks Laeoden in the eyes, finds him wanting, and bights down onto his hand, injecting its venom. Laeoden drops the sword. He tries again and again the sword biting him repeatedly. Finally he is able to assert his will over the blade, and claims it as his own. Darian finds a horseman’s pistol with a red ivory wood stock carved in the shape of a dragon. The breaches of its four barrels have been welded shut. Later he will discover that the pistol makes it’s own ammunition and kicks like a mule when fired.

They gather other treasures and continue on. Once again the obvious exit is not the real path. They find a secret entrance behind a tapestry and continue. Past trap after trap they come to another chamber. This one filled with cabinets of wind up automatons. In the center of the room is a scale model of the Castle standing ten feet tall. A man size door has been cut through he walls allowing you to step insde. Within they can see depictions of everyone in the castle. They see, the men in the barracks; Sven chopping at the corpses in the throne room; and a group of zombies rising from the circle of some dread ritual. When they wind the castle’s key everything is set in motion. If they listen closely; they can here the voices of the castles inhabitants. They gather the automatons from the cases noting that some are magical. They mark these for later investigation and continue through the Red Kings death trap treasure trove.

Through hall ways studded with a thousand ways to die they come to the next chamber. It has a floor laid out like a chess board. There are many stone statues on the board. They see a pregnant woman, a thief with a drawn rapier, a child, and artist with a pallet and brush, and a servant with a tray. A mural depicts all of the gods looking down upon the board. Laeoden steps onto the game board disappearing from the room. Instantly a statue of him appears on the board. Not knowing if their friend is doomed or not they rest of the group decide this is the only way forward and step on to the board. They find them selves in a vast stone labyrinth that stretches from horizon to horizon. Where they stand the maze is defined by negative space with the party standing on top of impossibly high walls, but the wall soon slopes down to a more traditional maze where the corridors are bounded by narrow walls. They can see that the Labyrinth is a crazy quilt of these upward and downward patches. They wander through the maze for an undetermined amount of time. It feels like several hours, but the light in the maze never changes. If there is a sun in the sky in this place, it is not visible overhead. They come upon a group of three large basilisk hunting in the maze. They get the scent of the party and attack. The fighting is furious with the creatures attempting to uses it’s baleful gaze on combatants who are close enough. With sword slashes and blasts from Aether’s Azlanti wand the creatures are defeated. Upon the basilisk’s death the party find themselves on the other side of the board.

They travel down another trapped filled hall to a well lit hall. Several museum cases are in the room. One has been smashed open. The only thing remaining is a placard labeled, “The Tongue of Hugh the Liar.” They claim several items from the cases: A paint set, a robe, and a book; but leave behind a silver box sealed with lead and bound with iron chains. It is inscribed with runes meant to bind both chaos and evil.

A final hall leads them to a room littered with gold and gems. Several chests long since rotted away have spilled their riches across the floor. A secret door in the back of the chamber stands open. Sounds of metal being hammered can be heard.

Laeoden climbs the ladder at the back of the secret door first. Peeking out he spies Malvolio hard at work pounding a pin into the wing of a giant metal eagle. At the back of the cave is a large opening into the sky. He uses his ring of invisibility to sneak up behind Malvolio with the treacher’s blade and drive the venomous rapier into his kidney and up into his lung. The other’s rush in and attack. Malvolio is overwhelmed and killed. They discover a tongue shaped lump of silver in his mouth. They finish assembling the eagle. When it does the large autamoton springs to life. Laeoden decides to fly on it first, then send it back for the others. He leaves through the opening strapped to the back of the Eagle but does not send it back for the others. Forcing them to scale the steep mountain side, up to the castles walls. When the remainder of the party arrives Sarafin informs them that Laeoden left the eagle and their treasure here and took off into the castle.

Comments

verdigrised…had to look that one up, nice recap Eric.

The Treasure of the Red King
ironwright ironwright

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