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.

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One for the Other

Laeoden and Darian are on their way back to the barracks when Laeoden feels a hand brush his neck, as something tries to cut the cord holding Kho’s amulet. Laeoden whirls around seeking the pick pocket. Using the ioun stone gained from the Stitchling Overseer he detects the invisible Lady Thrune. He lashes out with his rapier and misses. Thrune counter attacks wounding him badly. Darian joins the fray. Thorock and Aether hear the sounds of battle and rush to aid their friends. Spells flash from Thrune’s fingertips. Aether counters with her own. Swords dance, but the Lady Thurne is outnumbered and trapped. Knowing her defeat is imminent, she surrenders. They strip her of weapons and magic items. Laeoden and Darian take her back to the barracks as their prisoner.

They get back to the barracks to discover that Malvolio is gone. Malvolio convinced Quartermaster Benison that he knew where the king’s treasury was, and that he could lead them to it. Benision took Haulburk and Vanderhollen and headed out with Malvolio. He left a note for Darian explaining the entrance to the treasury was in the Throne room and that he had done the responsible thing by arming himself and two others to investigate.

Darian decides two take two of the six remaining Blue manticores with him to follow Malvolio. They are a pair of brothers Named Sven and Olaf Jergensen. They leave lady Thrune with Calvini and Idgen. Cortie and Albona are passed out drunk in their bunks. Darian and Laeoden arrive in the throne room to the sounds of the mechanical orchestra clanking out a formal waltz. Inside the throne room Glau, the dough faced servant of the red king, sits upon the throne of the Red king dressed in a red silk kimono. The dance floor is full of automotons whirling and twirling to the beat of the waltz. Someone has wired the corpses of the rest of the castle’s inhabitants to the automotons. The corpses bob and weave leaving grizzly trails of blood and viscera behind them.

Laeoden enters the room invisible using the ring he took from Lady Thrune. He convinces Glau that he is the spirit of the red kings ancestors. He tells Glau that he will make him great if he goes into the treasury. Glau, drunk on wine and stoned on Pesh agrees. He activates the secret door beneath the throne. Glau is scared to go down, but Laeoden promises he will protect him. Glau heads down the stairs leading to the treasury. He steps on an a shock trap. It triggers shocking him. He rolls down the stairs over a second shock trap. Laeoden and Darian take a look at the throne room. Darian determines that the desecration of the corpses is part of a ritual to create more powerful Zombies. He orders Sven to chop up the bodies. Darian, Olaf, and Laeoden head down into the room below the throne. Glau is nearly dead. His eyes have burst from repeated electrocution. The room is small, and square with a well in the center. Floating in the well are the bodies of the three AWOL Manticores. Malvolio is nowhere to be seen. There are four toggle levers on the wall. Laeoden convinces Glau that once he has achieved the Treasury he will be made whole again. They get him to the bank of levers and he works the sequence needed to progress. The well drains away quickly revealing a narrow set of stairs that spiral downward to a tunnel thirty feet below.

Olaf protests that he’s not really up to this kind of challange and Darian agrees to go get the rest of their companions. While Laeoden checks the spiral stairs for traps. After Darain leaves Laeoden convinces Glau to head down the spiral stair. He Triggers a trap that causes the well to quickly fill with water. It smashes him into the stone and drowns him in its powerful currents.

Laoeden resets the levers and uses the pattern Glau did to drain the water once again. Darian returns with Thorock and Aether.

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Down in the Dark

Driven by his desire to find Kho’s Amulet, Laeoden leads the party back to the chamber of the Seamstresses. The room is in shambles; the corpses of the blind witches still lie where the party left them. Laeoden does not hesitate. He rushes to the fire place, brushing away still warm ashes and the bones of devoured children, he reaches far up inside the hearth until he finds the brick his fingers knows will be there. He pries it loose dropping it in the ashes of the hearth. A plume of ash puffs up like the breath of the dead. He pushes at the space behind the brick. Suddenly it gives way. The fireplace slides back into the wall. Beyond is a rough cut tunnel boring down ward into the mountain. The roof of the tunnel is so low; it is impossible, even for Aether, to stand up straight. Thorok must hunch to the point where his knees are nearly scraping his chest. By the time they have reached the bottom his back aches from the awkward position and repeatedly scraping it against the rough stone of the ceiling.

The tunnel they have entered has a much higher ceiling and is obviously man made. It must have once been above ground; because there are rough filled openings that could only have once been windows. The stone blocks that form the walls and floors are covered in Azlanti runes. The stale air is spiced with scent of freshly hewed stone. In the distance they can hear the tick tick of picks and hammers digging in the dark, as well as a low grinding rumble.

They follow the hall coming upon a narrow, and recently excavated, side tunnel. They can see a Stitchling, a short distance in, using a crude iron pick to dig deeper into the mountain. The Stitchling ignores them and continues to dig. The party travel deeper into the mountain. They pass other Stitchling burrows. The rumbling sound grows louder. Up head they soon discover the tunnel blocked by a massive rotating conical drill. It moves slowly toward them. They decide to move temporarily to one of the Stitchling burrows to allow it to pass. The massive machine grinds past pulverizing loose rock and sucking up small stones and dirt. Once they can safely pass the party come out of their holes. They continue down the path. They come to a side passage with feint green illumination at the end. It seems amazingly bright in the absolute darkness of the caverns.

Laeoden stealths down the hall way. He spies on a bent and crooked man dressed in a dirty loin cloth. He leans heavily on a curved staff. He mutters to himself as he wanders the chamber. The walls, ceiling, and floor are covered in charcoal writings, short notes, and scribbled maps. He absent mindedly brushes aside phosphorescent worms to examine the writings better. The chamber is crawling with them giving it it’s green blue glow. Laeoden notes that the man’s eyes have been removed and amethyst stones have been sewn into the sockets. Giving the man the appearance of being bug eyed or wearing glasses.

Laeoden comes back to the party and tells them what he has seen. They decide to try and talk to the man. He jumps into the air when they speak to him, caught totally by surprise. The man has no interest in talking to them though. He raises his staff into the air and the party can hear the sounds of every stitchling in the tunnels rushing to his aid. He throws spell after spell at the party. Thorok holds the hall from the Stitchling advance while the rest of the party kill the Stitchling’s overseer. Aether grabs his staff and quickly masters it. She orders the Stitchlings to cease their attack. Laeoden cuts out the Overseer’s gemstone eyes. Aether identifies them as Ioun Stones of blind fighting. Laeoden identifies them as Thassilonian in design.

The cast continue in the direction Laeoden’s urges carry him. They come to a room where a stair wel would have lead down but the mountains’s stone has filled it like water filing a well. Aether orders the Stitchlings to dig here. Judging by the distance Laeoden believes he is away from the amulet and the rate at which the Stitchlings dig the estimate it will take them two days to free the amulet from the mountain’s grasp.

Laeoden and Darian decide to go back to the barracks to check on their prisoner and the men. Aether stays to supervise the Stitchlings. Thorok stays to guard her.

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Ancient Shores

The cast return to the lab to investigate the Core. Laeoden decides to place his hands upon the black stone alter. Static electricity begins to crackle in the air. The room grows cold enough they can see their breath. Soon blackness comes over Laeoden’s senses. Laeodens begins speaking in a voice that is not his own. In one language after another until finally he says “Do you understand these words?” in the common tongue. The party answers “Yes.” The voice speaking through Laeoden says that the link between the core and its controller was severed 5000 years, six months, seven days, fourteen hours, and twelve minutes ago. This unit will be linked." The voice speaking through Laeoden says “Transfer beginning. Do not break transfer. Breaking transfer is dangerous for linking unit. Transfer sync beggining. Transfer 12% complete. .” After a short time the voice says Transfer 34% complete."

Laeoden is totally unaware of his situation. He is seeing the workshop how it used to be in ancient times. He feels like he is looking out through some one else’s eyes. He soon realizes he is in the body of a woman. Her Name is Kho, and she is the Azlanti wizard in charge of the construction of the Core. She is proud, the Core is her best work. It is a nearly perfect source of electro-thaumaturgic energy. She is also worried. Soon there will be a terrible war.

Laeoden suddenly finds himself on the floor. His friends have pried him away from the alter concerned for his health. He is extremely disoriented and temporarly unable to speak to them in the common tounge. Aether realizes that he is speaking in Azlanti. Laeoden realizes what he is doing and switches to common. He explains to them what has been happening, and that he is fine.

He gets up and reestablishes contact with the alter. The voice says through him “Transfer sync reestablished. Continuing transfer. Transfer 40% complete.”

Laeoden once again finds himself in ancient times. Kho is talking to a handsome man. He caresses her arm and tells her not to worry. She is far to valuable to be fighting on the front lines. The weapons she will make will be far more valuable to the war effort. Suddenly the sky fades to dark, as if the sun has been eclipsed. Kho and the man hurry out doors to see what is going on. A vast shape blocks out the sun, A wall of darkness stretching to the clouds rushes toward them from the south. As it grows ever nearer; the sky grows blacker. In the distance Kho can see trees being tossed into the air and buildings being smashed flat at the edge of the cloud. Some where people are screaming. As the light of the sun fades, the roar of the rushing cloud blocks out all other sounds till Kho is forced to cover her ears. The shaking of the ground forces her prone. The workshop behind her begins to break apart as Kho crawls toward it. Heavy blocks of stone fall on her and nothing is left of her mind save fear and pain.

Once again Laeoden finds himself on the ground. The party has, once again, broken the transfer to check on him. Laeoden tells them what he has seen, and that he wishes to continue the transfer. This time they allow the transfer to go to 100%. Laeoden blinks, rubs his eyes, and takes several deep breaths. He has a pounding headache. His mind is a whirlwind of strange knowledge and ideas. Most of it dealing with ancient Azlanti magics of Aeromantic Infadibulum and electro-thaumaturgy. The rest is the memories of Kho’s long life.

He also feels compelled to seek out Kho’s amulet. He knows the amulet will free the core from the cleat that loocks it in place here in the lab. He finds that if he concentrates he can tell the direction and distance he is from the amulet. They begin the search.

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Further Complications

The party decides to head back to the lab to investigate the Azlanti obelisk known as the core. On the way Aether steps in a slick puddle. To her horror she discovers that it is blood seeping out from under a door. They ready themselves and swing wide the door prepared to face some foe, but find a body spralled on its back. The chest is tore open the heart has been removed.

On the floor of this storage room is an arcane pattern finger painted in blood. In the center is a large sigil. Aether determines that it is the glyph of Zura the demon prince of Vampires. The glyph seems to be part of a contact other plane spell.

Laeoden, who is outside the room due to it’s size, notices someone lurking in the shadows. The figure runs; they all give chase. As the part gain on their quarry, they realize it is a woman dressed in brown leather armor, a rapier at her hip, her head wrapped in a cloth. They chase her on to the roof of one of the castle’s many towers. She and Laeoden circle each other with rapiers dancing. Darian catches up and slashes at her with what would have been a devastating blow. She performs some kind of complicated maneuver, sliding under his swing and smashing up into his arms at the same time. Instead of hitting her the blow cuts Laeoden. During the maneuver her scarf is ton from her face. Their opponent is revealed to be none other then the Lady Nyrissa Thrune. She leaps from the fray to the edge of the tower, salutes with her rapier, and allows her self to fall off the edge backwards. The party reach the edge just in time to see lady Thrune float to a narrow balcony three stories below. She pauses to blow them a kiss, then enters the castle.

The party rush to find her but there is no sign of her below. Aether heals Laeoden’s wounds and they decide to continue with their original plan to investigate the Core more thuroghly.

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Ancient Revelations

Malvolio reveals under torture that he is a member of a secret order of wizards dedicated to, and in some cases descended from Thassilon. They have been searching for a weapon of ancient the ancient Azlantians. The Order traced some clues to the weapon’s location to here.

They dispatched his master Nunzio Menervini and his retinue to the castle of the red king to investigate. Nunzio was a master of magic and alchemy. He created the throne of stolen youth in order to gain the trust of the Red King and access to the catacombs below the castle in order to procure the rare minerals necessary to create the potions of youth. Of course, no such minerals were needed. The youth potions were created by distilling the vital essence of stolen children.

Once access to the catacombs was gained Nunzio began digging in earnest. He soon discovered that the castle was built upon Azlanti ruins. The real break though came when he broke through into the lab. Here he discovered the core, The portal, the engineer’s journal of Kho Quen and a number of tools. The order poured money and man hours into the discovery. They discovered that the core is but a part of a vast weapon called the Storm Walker.

It was to be a weapon in the war between the Azlantians and the Abeloths. The storm walker was a flying ship a mile long that would walk though the air on legs of lightning. It was going to be capable of destroying entire cities in a single day. The Azlantians constructed the storm walker in eight separate pieces in order to hide it from their Abeloth master’s When the walker was complete the project engineers would gather at the core and insert their medallions into the base of the core. Then all of the pieces would fly into the air, wherever they were in the world, and join together around the core, forming the completed storm walker.

The Storm walker never got to be used. Before the Azlantian rebels were ready to strike, the Abeloths called down the starstone killing millions and plunging the world into the Age of Darkness.

Nunzio knew that if the Order could claim the Storm Walker the rebirth of Thassilon was certain.
In his zeal he experimented with the core and unlocked many of it’s abilities. Including its ability to broadcast Thaumaturgical energy to remote locations through Ioun stones. He used his knew knowledge to create a portal to an Order Stronghold, and power spider constructs. He augmented the castles already impressive constructs. He learned to create the Stitchlings and set three blind witch’s to sewing them. Promising them he would use Thassilon Ioun magic to craft them new eyes. He set the stitchlings to work gathering raw materials for more stitchlings as well as mining in the catacombs searching for more Azlanti artifacts.

He used the castles constructs to build a smaller flying ship using Kho’s journal as a guide. They would power it with the core and travel the world seeking the medallions of the other Azlanti engineers. Once all are claimed, the Storm Walker could be assembled.

Then disaster struck. While experimenting with the core it destroyed Nunzio’s mind leaving him a mad imbecile. Malvolio did his best to hide the situation; seeking to claim the glory for himself, but he has made little progress.

He also reveals that his masters in the order have been alerted to the presence of the party in the castle, the death of the Red King, and all of the other recent events. Rather then risk losing the Core. They have dispatched an army to take the castle. They will arrive with in the week.

The party decides to hang on to Malvolio and Ludd in case they have additional information they need . They use the secret elevator in the Laboratory to take them back to the barracks to be guarded by the remaining Blue Manticores.

They take the rescued Children to Sarafina so she can look after them.

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Mwa Ha Ha

The time arrives for Laeoden’s meeting with Malvolio. They are to discuss the Red King releasing Nyrissa the Green witch from her curse. The rest of the cast accompany Laeoden as he follows Malvolio’s automoton to the meeting. This automoton is different then the ones they’ve seen before in the castle. It has a blue crystal sphere set into its wooden head. It is the same as the one Laeoden pried from the ceiling in the red kings quarters.

The Automoton leads them through the Castle grounds, past a work site where automotons are constructing the hull of a full scale sailing ship. The castle lies in the mountains. No where near the sea. The ship is even more curios when examined from on deck. The three masts are equal heights and have large metal hoops attacked to them. The hoops are studded with the magical spheres, the same as the one Laeoden found hidden in the light.

There journey takes them deep into the bowels of the castle. They come to a large rectangular chamber with 20 automoton. These are some of the soldier types seen on the wall when they first arrived. They have swords and shields where their hands should be. Once the group is in the center of the room the automoton surround them and attack. Despite grim odds they defeat the automoton through clever tricks and clever gambits. Laeoden creates an island of safety by using acid to melt the automotons tracks. Aether uses her magic to out pace the constructs. Darain uses his nearly impervious shield wall and the entry corridor to keep himself from being flanked.

Once the constructs lie in heaps of gears and kindling through out the chamber. They call out for Malvolio to reveal himself. He does not. They go in search of the trap setter. They know from discusions at the party that his lab is deep below the castle and decide to look for him there.

They find a winding staircase that descends into the mountain and take it. Laeoden is in the lead checking for traps. Again and again he finds chunks of metal disguised to look like stone. Buried beneath these are metal boxes inscribed with runes and connected to the fake stones with copper wire. He clips the wire and takes the boxes. Aether examines the boxes and thinks that whoever stepped on the stones would have had lightning course through them.

They come to a trap on the stairs much more subtle then the shock traps. Thin wires criss-cross the hall at pelvis height. They are connected to key stones in the walls on either side. Laeoden thinks that if the wires are tampered with in any way several tons of loose rocks will come crashing down. The smaller members of the party shimmy though the gap in the lower part of the crossed wires. Darian is forced to remove his armor and attempt the gap. Despite greasing him up and him holding his breath he catches the wires. Laeoden and Tanion drag him through by the arms but his legs are pelted with large rocks. The stair way back to the surface is blocked.

The group continues on deeper into the mountain. They find a hall way of much older construction intricatley carved with symbols similar to those on the ring bases of the blue spheres. They travel down it quite a distance passing collapsed cross hallways. The air here is stale and dank. They come to a door on the right of the hallway. They listen hearing a voice speaking gruffly in dwarven.

They ready themselves and break into the room. The discover row upon row of work benches. Filth crusted children are chained to them. Many have oozing sores around their manacles. All have blank looks of hopelessness on their face. A sallow dwarf with a cat of nine tails is attempting to flee to the other side of the room. Laeoden runs and tackles him. Laeoden soon dscovers that he is not a dwarf but a midget.

Aether sees to the children. They have been set to work scraping hides and dipping them into acids vats to tan them. Many of them have raw and bleeding hands. Their finger nails cracked and broken. Acid burns are common. Many have trembles from the nerve damage and malnutrition. The children are quickly freed. They are the ones missing from Piren’s bluff. The ones thought consumed by the beast that took them.

Laeoden begins to interrogate the faux dwarf and learns that his name is Lud. At first he is resistant to revealing information, but after Laeoden clips off a few of his fingers he’s telling tals like a school girl.

The children were brought here by Malvolio to work. Scraping and tanning the hides that will be stitched into Malvolio’s army. They learn that in the next room down the hall are Malvolio’s seamstresses. Three blind witches who sew the skins into the empty shells that will be filled with mud and animated.

Aether asks if there are any other children here. Do any children leave the room. Lud tells them that the children stay chained to the benches even during brief periods of sleep. They only slip the chains when they are too week to work and tenderized by misery. Then they are sent to the witches, and none have left that chamber.

The group pledges to put an end to what is happening here. They pledge to end Malvolio, the king and his witches. They steel themselves and head to the chamber of the witches.

They are sitting by the fire place when the party crashes in. They drop the skins they are sewing and begin screeching. Darian and Laeoden begin the grim work of chopping them down. They attempt several incantations to save them but to no effect. All die run through by blade and arrow. They find damning evidence of their dark deeds. The bones of many children are heaped by the fire, and the stew pot is filled with things best left unmentioned.

They continue to Malvolio’s lab, the placid weeping Lud giving them direction. They break down the door to discover Malvolio speaking into some kind of magic mirror. He is commanding some one to send the troops back. He is being attacked. On the wall of the room a silver rind the size of a large door, studded with the blue spheres begins to glow.

Darian, who kicked the door open, falls to the ground paralyzed by some kind of magical trap. The others rush by him into the room. Malvolio throws a lightning bolt their way. Laeoden stabs Malvoilo repeatedly while Tanion plugs him with arrows. Aether uses her wand to blast the glowing portal smashing the blue crystals that power it. Finally Malvolio falls unconscious. Laeoden cuts out his tongue to prevent him from casting any spells. Aether is forced to heal him to prevent him from dieing so the bastard can answer some of their questions.

They tie him up and explore the lab. In the center of the room is a ten foot octagonal metal obelisk inscribed with writhing symbols and studded with the blue spheres. Several are cracked and dark. There are obvious spaces where many spheres are missing. in front of the obelisk is a small alter of black granite where Malvolio was speaking to his distant allies.

There is a work bench covered in jewelers tools and alchemical equipment and a bookcase filled with rare and ancient tomes.

Malvoio’s eyes flutter open and he groans. The interrogation of the villain begins.

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Paint by Numbers

Lady Thrune has become drunk and is bored with the party and has Aether take her back to her chambers. Nyrissia begins to pout about being sent to the castle of the Red King. She hates everyone here. She hates the castle and its creepy puppets. She tells Aether that she’s her only friend. She tries to kiss Aether. Aether avoids her advances. Nyrissia begs her to lay down beside her on the bed and hold her till she falls asleep. Aether is saved by further embarrassment when Nyrissia passes out. Aether lays her down on the bed, and is about to sneak out of the room when Nyrissia sits up. She looks around and says in a sober voice “Very Good, we’ve made it to the castle.” She looks directly at Aether, noticing her for the first time. Aether sees that Nyrissia’s eyes have changed from her normal dull brown to a startling shade of blue violet. Nyrissia demands to know what Aether is doing in her room. Aether says that she was taking Nyrissia to bed. Nyrissia says “Ah yes. My mind is just muddled from waking. Where is my large trunk? I need something from it.” Nyrissia shows her where it is and asks if she needs assistance. She says no and bids Aether to leave her. Aether goes in search of her friends. Darian is leaving the party just as Aether is coming down the hall and they decide to set off together.

Thoroc and Sinjin enter into the trophy room. Laeoden and Tanion wait several moments outside the door to the trophy room. All is quiet inside. They call out to their companions but there is no response. They pry one of the light domes down from the ceiling and discover that under neath the glowing glass dome is a second smaller orb of blue crystal set into a silver sigil inscribed ring. It glows with a cloudy radiance that is beguiling. Laeoden pries it loose as well. Laeoden pockets the blue crystal, and slides the light dome into the trophy room. By its light they see their associates foot prints cross the dusty only to stop at the center of the room. Cautious of a trap Laeoden and Tanion examine the ceiling, walls, and floor as closely as they can without entering the room. The floor can’t be trapped, its activation would have left some sign in the dust. The ceiling and the three walls they can see from the door bare no clues, so they enter the room cautious of the wall shielded by the swing of the door.

They soon discover they’re “friends” fate. Hanging on the wall is a painting of Thoroc and Sinjin engaged in a desperate battle with a knight in blood red armor. With no idea how to get their friends out of the painting; Laeoden takes it down and removes it from the frame with a practiced hand, and rolls it up. They decide to take the painting back to the barracks for safe keeping. Perhaps Aether will be able to help.

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Decadence and Idle Hands

The Ballroom is large and sumptuously appointed. The lights are dim the tables are set with vast candelabras. The walls are decked in vast curtains of red and gold brocade. There is enough material here to rig the sails of an entire Navy. The chairs oak chairs are polished to a rich glow. Each has a red velvet cushion. Blocks of frankincense spiked with pesh smolder lazily in brazers at the corners of the room.

The hall is full of people dressed in rich silks and lace. Jewelry sparkles in the candle light. Some of the women have even pasted small jewels to their face like glittering beauty marks. Although their clothes and jewels are lovely they are all out of fashion. Some by many years. An orchestra of Automoton plays a low sonata.

The Lady Thrune is announced to the guests as are the rest of the group. Tanion, as an elf, is a novelty to these people, which grants him a level of celebrity. He spends most of the evening answering questions about the habits of his people, and avoiding the sexual advances of one of he Male dinner guests. Laeoden moves through the crowd charming the ladies, spreading rumors and gathering information on the rest of the castle and its occupants. Darian meets the Baron Lelange and his daughter Colette. Baron Lelaange makes a pass at Darian as does his daughter. Later he seems desperate to speek to Darian more privately, but will not reveal his reason. Sinjin and Thoroc are questioned about their homelands and travel. Both are barraged with thinly veiled innuendo from the Lady Argentirie.

Malvoleo arrives at the party. Laeoden pushes the issue of getting the Red King to free the Green Lady. Malvoleo offers to meet him later to discuss the matter privately.

Dinner is served. Half way through the meal the Red King himself makes an appearance. He is an old man shrivelled and palsied, confined to a wheel chair. Malvoleo approaches and bows to his master. He holds a flask under the Kings nose, allowing him to breath in a pale mist. The king under goes a rapid transformation. His muscles grow strong. His complexion becomes ruddy. His hair grows black and thick. He rises from his chair to the applause of his guests.

He formally welcomes Lady Thrune to the Castle. She thanks him for his most gracious protection. The feast continues with dish after dish of elaborate food, accompanied by fine wines. Between the Pesh and the Wine most of the guests are intoxicated.

Aether spots Lady Sarafina Buceliano. Sarafina eats in silence bringing the food to her mouth in jerky mechanical motions. Her expression is blank and she stares straight ahead not making any effort at conversation. When the clock strikes one a.m. she immediately rises from her chair, knocking it over. ignoring it, she turns and clomps out of the ballroom like a wind up toy. Laeoden and Tanion bothe see the chair tip and decide to follow the curios lady. After a few turns through the corridor they run into Thoroc and Sinjin. Thoroc is returning With Fezik’s the Merchants chest of goods. Sinjin offered to go with him to escape the Lady Argentirie. They drop Fezik’s chest off and hurry after Laeoden, Tanion, and Sarafina.

She is walking very slowly down a long corridor. She reaches a flight of stairs at the end and turns to mount them. Her leg pumps the air in front of her attempting to find the first step. She misses several times before she finally catches lowest step with her toes and she begins her ascent.

She comes to a part of the castle richly decorated in gold and red. The floors are plushly carpeted. The way is lit by small magical glass domes set into the ceiling.

At a turn in the hall way there is a small gold statue of a cherub holding a Azurite gemstone shaped like a robins egg. When they pass the gem glows and are all save Laeoden are beguiled by the light. Laeoden slaps and cajoles them till the trance is broken and they continue to follow Sarafina.

She enters a richly appointed bed chamber drinks a clear liquid from a decanter, disrobes and lays down on a massive four poster bed. She pays no heed to the group of four men that are following her. Even when they talk to her, snap their fingers, or prick her with a knife she does not move. She stares straight ahead, a blank expression on her face.

The party searches the room. They discover that the liquid in the decanter is clear like water but thick like oil. It writhes and slides along the decanter walls when a hand is brought near. The only thing that seems to be keeping it in the bottle is the decanter is too slick for the stuff to cling too. Laeoden pours some into a glass vial.

The other item of note in the room is a painting of the Red King as he might have been in his glory days. He is dressed in ornate full plate standing on a pile of corpses. The painting radiates a necromantic enchantment but Sinjin is unable to determine what the painting does.

The Party goes back to a door down the hall and discover that it has been nailed shut. They decide to break it down. Thoroc throws his shoulder into it the door is quickly cracked from its frame. Inside is trophy room filled with hundreds of Taxidermy mounts. Many have been vandelized. The are missing heads and limbs. Some are just piles of sawdust and the bases on which they stood. No remains of the creature are still present. It is decided that Sinjin and Thoroc will go and scout the room before the rest of the party enters.

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The Dance of Clock Work

The group is met at the Citadels parade grounds by the Red Kings Vizier. He formally welcomes Lady Thrune to the castle and instructs the rest of the guests where they will be staying. He also makes them aware that there will be a formal dress event to welcome Lady Thrune and the Red King will be making an appearance. He then pulls some levers at a console and serval of the castles servants appear. They are reminiscent of stick puppets. They’re upper halves resembles men and women made of wood They’re lower half is a simple wooden pole that glides through tracks set into the stone work of the castle. They’re dressed in servants clothes, but have a smooth surface where they’re face should be. When they move there are quite rattling and ratcheting sounds. Some of the servants begin collecting Lady Thrune’s luggage. One slides in front of the Mercenaries and the Group. The Vizier tells them that it will lead them to the barracks where they can rest and refresh them selves before the party.

The mechanical servant leads them through the Citadel. The first thing that strikes them is that there are very few living beings here. They pass tended fields and gardens but no human hands tend the crops. Instead the wooden servants harvest melons, apples, and green beans. Sinjin and Laeoden decide to test the servitors and damage a section of they’re track. A servant with a wheel barrow full of water melons runs into the damage, but then backs up and takes another track. They decide to appropriate the dropped melons for their own refreshment.

Their guide takes them past one of the castles marvels. A mechanical garden. There metal tree’s grow oilly golden fruits. Metal vines sprout metal roses. Even as they watch a tiny metal shoot opens revealing a brass leaf. A mechanical bee lands on a silver trumpet, which curls up around it.

The slate roofed barracks is ordered to a precision that no human hand could attempt. The bunks are squared to the wall and spaced with a precision that makes the long row seem like some kind of optical illusion. The sheets are folded with such care that they’re like gifts wrapped for a king. The Manticores move in and find the mattresses soft and feather stuffed. Soon an Automaton arrives with a a rack of fancy clothes to allow the elite of the Lady Thrune’s protective detail to dress for the party.

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