Adventurers – Biblios (Barbarian), Ellywick (Monk), Finley (Sorcerer) Silver (Rogue), Tim (Warlock)
Preparations and revelations
The adventuers temporarily parted ways in order to allow Silver some time to train with his Father, and to gather a few supplies for the assault on Ravensbrook estate. Biblios, still under his axes grim aura turned to gambling and ale to kill time, but the dragonborn simply wanted to kill. There would be worthy foes in the fight ahead no doubt. His sprightly monk sidekick, Ellywick, opted to branch out into new business opportunities, and made a deal with the enigmatic Doctor Crow. The deal looked set, but at the 11th hour Tim jumped in with a bag of gold, and nabbed a slice of the potion business too. Crow cared little, although neither adventurer would benefit from a truly custom potion this time around.
Finley returned to Phandalin with a skip in her step. She could finally afford her elephant, and wasted little time picking up the friendly beast, who was still an infant. Finley lovingly named the new friend Martha, and leaped on her back. The Bullwug village was due a visit from her, and she was eager to check in on their progress. They were pleased to see the sorceress, and informed her that the birthing traditions of old had returned, and things were slowly improving. There was still much to do however, with the more reluctant tribe members requiring a full visit from the group.
Tim once again found time to stalk Rusty in Lielon. His investigations turning up very little, other than discovering Rusty was now lording about town, and throwing his meagre weight around with irritating confidence. The Tiefling would need to wait to strike however, and so did some subtle digging around about Roland. An ally would be useful. No solid leads were uncovered though, other than the odd missing pie, and hear say sightings of a man by the river devouring raw fish like a madman.
Back in Duskfalls Silver was pushed to grueling levels by Dorns rigorous training. The rogue wasn’t allowed to give thought to questions for the father he never knew. It was a surreal storm of events that he was just trying to cling onto until things made sense. Dorn was a distant figure, and never seemed to stop or rest, constantly pushing his half elf son. To the point where during one duel Dorns blade completely shattered SIlvers rapier. Blackwing was the blade of house Ravensbrooke. A thicker black blade, forged for real war, back during a time when the first Baron would face death in the face with a snarl. In contrast Silvers rapier was an ornamental blade, stolen from a noble house that probably never dirtied its hands with war. Dorn raged at Silver, then disappeared to cool off for a while. The rogue brooded, confused and exhausted.
Nailo Nightbreeze, the ranger, approached the half-elf with poise and a friendly smile. Explaining that Dorn bore a heavy burden, and that in time all would be explained. He also came with a gift, and handed Silver a beautifully crafted longbow. Decorated with Elven names of heroes that had wielded the weapon in times past. SIlver replied with deep reverence in elvish, to which Nailo smiled and inclined his head.
When Dorn did return his temper had cooled some, and he handed his son a worn black leather journal. Along with a few words of explanation, which only seemed to confuse Silver further. Dorn was neither truly living or dead, and explained that he would soon have to return to his slumber. There was only time to prepare SIlver, not join him in the fight ahead. Yet he would leave the rogue with a majestic gift, and presented Blackwing to him. The blade was magical, and seemed to sense the Ravnesbrooke blood flowing through Silvers veins. In turn he felt like he had always owned the obsidian blade, and that if need be he could push back an entire army or slay a commander in single combat. Vermillion would be no easy foe, and SIlver hoped the blade thirsted for corrupted blood.
As Dorn departed with Nailo and the other rangers Silver stole a few moments to read through his fathers journal. Tricked by the Order, Dorn had done what he could to repair the damage with the help of the elves. But paid a terrible price in the process, there was imply no easy way back from killing a god. Questions would always be there, but for now he had the other parent to rescue, and finally face Vermillion. So sent word to his comrades via the sending stone.
Horrors of the Mine
Reunited again, SIlver informed them off the events penned by Dorn in his journal. And with final preparations made, they travelled from Duskfalls to Ravensbrook. The small town emanated an oppressed aura, and the local tavern was all but empty save for a few nervous locals. The rogue had visions of stirring a rebellion, and leading a fired up mob to the gates of the Barons estate. But the plan fell flat, there was none willing to confront the red Baron. But before they could consider a different approach, galloping hooves thundered past the inn. Tim acted first, bursting out the door and hurled eldritch blasts at the red rider. He cursed as the bolts failed to unseat him, and ignored Silvers flurry of words questioning his actions. The rogue blitzed past him, and leaped onto Jackpot. The rest of the group spurred their mounts into the chase, as the red rider disappeared into the forest.
SIlver recognized the red rider. It was Hermann Albrecht, the Barons loyal servant who he had spent considerable time fishing for information. The rogue loathed the man, and relished the opportunity to end him. They had to, for his haste was in no way a good sign for the party. The Lurkwood was dense and ancient, and they tracked him as best they could. While they had no ranger tracker, they did have a forest gnome. Ellywick relished the opportunity to make a new animal friend, who could maybe help them with directions. A flying squirrel swooped in from nowhere, and chirped at the monk as it perched on her shoulder. Ellywick grinned, and thoroughly enjoyed the critters banter. Rewarding him with a handful of berries, as they followed his direction to the mines.
Sure enough they found Hermanns exhausted steed near the mines entrance – he was in there. There were no guards, which was a warning in itself. Only fools went in the Ravensbrook mines, and the accounts in Dorns diary painted a grim picture of the place. A strange rune was discovered near the entrance, and the rogue instinctively looked to the magic dealers for enlightenment. Finley smiled nervously, and explained her magic just happened, while Tim shrugged his shoulders. Damn, Glim would be useful about now he muttered. Ellywick was ever resourceful though, and cast a dome of silence over it, while Biblios dug up the thing and hurled it into the forest. The rune pulsed and gave off a warning noise, but the dome thankfully prevented the warning going any further into the mine. An unorthodox, but effective approach, which allowed them to carefully navigate further into the gloom.
The mine was an ominous place. Pick axes magically tinked away by themselves at a mysterious red stone, which had a dull glow and an unpleasant aura. So of course Tim decided to help himself to a few piles of the stuff, happily scooping it into the bag of holding. The axes ignored them, and just kept mining away as the party passed by as stealthily as they could. The tink-tink was the only noise, until up ahead they heard a ruckus coming from an old door. Must be Herman, and the silent approach was abandoned as they gave chase.
They didn’t find Hermann in the small room. But rather a chained up dwarf, several prisoners, and what looked like a work area of sorts. SIlver held out the runesmiths pendant they had recovered from Duskfalls, knowing the dwarf was the missing runesmith. The dwarf introduced himself as Solan Stoneshield, but insisted they save pleasantries and make haste after Albrecht. Biblios cleaved through the dwarves chains with a whistling chop from his axe, the dwarf wincing slightly but giving a thankful nod. Finley and Ellywick released the other prisoners, and gave them a few provisions to aid recovery. The dwarf had been forced to use the red stone, known as gods blood, to help create the abominations that were the judges. When fused with flesh the stone had unpleasant but powerful side effects. And Hermann had grabbed several prepared spikes of it.
They emerged into another part of the mine. The red stone clusters gave off enough of a sickly red glow that several rooms could described ahead. But it was the Hermann Albrecht that demanded attention. He was no longer running, and instead stood purposefully facing them on a stone cut bridge arching over a cavern. It was the only way forward. The man gave out a mad laugh, then plunged red spikes into his own flesh. He contorted horribly for a moment, then levitated off the ground, as blood pooled down and formed wicked red chains. “Finally!!” Biblios roared, and hurtled towards the foe at full pelt, axe iat the ready. Ellywick nimbly followed him, drawing and preparing her own magical blade. An arrow whizzed past the two as the ran, Silver putting the new long bow to the test. It hit true, but Herman just laughed. The fiend plunged his hands towards the ground, and chains snaked through it until they burst forth in several places surrounding the adventurers. While in the adjacent rooms there was a distinct shuffling and moaning, as ragged figures began to stir.
Finley hummed with raw power, as several perfect replicas fizzed into existence beside her. While Tim gestured then blinked onto another plane. Both magic dealers were setting up defensively it seemed. Which was wise, as the chains surrounding them darted into action. One coiled around SIlver, and despite an uncanny dodge swept the rogue off his feet and began ripping into his flesh. Another hissed into one of Finleys dopplegangers, popping it like a summer berry. One of the Finleys exhaled with relief.
Tears of joy ran down Biblios scaly cheek, as the barbarian worked himself up into blissful rage of destruction. Great sweeping blows smashed into Albrecht , the axe almost wailing with glee as he did so. Chains swung around the overloaded man, deflecting a couple blows, but no doubt most hit true and hard. Elleywick rained down punches and precise strikes with blurring speed. Frustrated that only her blade seemed to really damage him. She would have to meditate on this later. If they had a later that is. Albrecht narrowed his bloodshot eyes, and chains began to circle both his attackers, looking for an opening to ground them.
The chains were a problem, but Silver painfully wriggled free and sprinted towards Hermann Albrecht. Raising Blackwing he named his foe and compelled him to a duel. The rogues voice taking on a slight otherworldly tone as the words struck Herman. The man paused momentarily, his deformed body suddenly jerking to move towards the rogue instead of face Biblios and Ellywick. The chains however dug into both of them, preventing them from pressing this advantage… yet.
Finley had new problems. The rooms had housed failed experiments, poor individuals who had been hideously deformed by contact with the gods blood stone. They came for her, and in doing so distracted her enough for the chains to attack. It was too much, as they swarmed the sorceress and took her down with a loud cry of pain. Tim could save her, but the Tiefling blinked back into existence and instead let loose bolts of energy into Albrecht. The unconscious and defenseless gnome just a few feet away.
Blackwings spell was enough, and in unison Ellywick and Biblios broke free of the chains and punished Hermann with shattering strikes. The dragon born was held aloft by the mans chains, but feverishly wailed at him with gore filled joy anyway, until finally even Albrechts pumped up body couldn’t take any more. He lifted the protesting bloody mess that was once Hermann Albrecht, and tossed it into the black abyss below. A few moments passed, and a chain snaked back up and found purchase on the stone bridge. With one swift slice the barbarians axe shattered it, and was met with gurgling screams as the fiend plummeted to his demise. The group were severely battered, but victorious. Finley was nursed back to conciseness by Ellywick, and they stole a few moments to catch their breath and chug some of Doctor Crows health remedies.
The mine was a terrible place to rest. The uneasy atmosphere, gloom, and disconcerting red glow weren’t the only reasons. There were whispers and distant titters in the dark, and the constant tink-tink of animated pick axes. But a short rest would be better than nothing, as the battle had left Silver and Finley in bad shape. While Biblios shuck in one corner as the blood lust cooled in his fiery veins. If this was the Barons general, then what powers did Vermillion and his bride have in store. They would soon find out as they discovered a hidden passage that would lead right into his crimson lair.
The red reunion
Fortune favored them for heading to mine first, as they discovered a concealed passage leading to the main house. After an hour or so traversing its dark and rocky path, they finally came upon a door. The party emerged into yet more darkness, and what looked like a small chapel dedicated to Selûne – The Moon maiden. While not religious in the slightest, Silver saw fit to drop a coin at her statue and hope for the best. As he did so, the illusion broke, and the statue appeared defiled with it’s offerings rotten. Selûne could not be pleased with this, maybe she would smile on the party in some way.
Navigating the small shrine in complete darkness was challenging for those gifted with dark vision, but for Biblios in his armor it was obvious he was going to make noise. And all was still very quiet, so just maybe they had the element of surprise. They would find out, as teach adventurer slowly moved into a massive room supported by several grand but aged columns running along it’s length. In the blackness, Silver edged forward quietly, and peered far enough to make out the Blackkwood chair.
In front of the chair stood two figures in black robes. The rogue knew it could not be this easy, but none the less who ever stood there was going to fall. He silently indicated to the others to prepare, and notched an arrow in the longbow. Adding some spider venom for extra bite. The arrow struck true and with sickening force, sending the robed male several feet back with the impact. He died instantly. Then all hell broke loose, in some ways quite literally.
It wasn’t Vermillion of course, but it was one very dead Judge. No, the Red Baron had been there along, but actually not there at all. His silken voice came from everywhere and made the skin crawl, malicious laughter clawing at the soul as he welcomed his cousin. Finally the lord of the estate came forth to confront the intruders, bursting from a hiding place on another plane. The visage Silver knew to be Vermillion faded away, revealing a foul being with infernal features and leathery wings. A cambion. The vile spawn of a unholy union. Vermillions father, Umber, was of course human. But his mother clearly was not. The rogue was disgusted, and even more determined to end the Baron for good.
Vermillion was not alone. Esvelle followed her crimson winged lover from her own alternate plane. She was a despicable creature, as the illusion faded to reveal her true sucubus form. Licking her lips she laughed, then began incantations to summon even more minions. If she wasn’t stopped, the group would quickly be out numbered and out matched. Tim took up the challenge, drawing deep of his abilities to confront Esvelle while the others battled the Judges and Vermillion.
The Baron immediately targeted Silver. Speaking words of power to charm the rogue and draw him closer. Silvers mind once again felt the familiar fog and lack of clarity he experienced those many years ago. For a brief moment it looked like he might succumb. But he just chuckled, whispering elvish words of protection his mother had taught him as a child to fend off terrors in the night. He wondered how Vermillion felt now having once insulted his mixed heritage. For his elven blood offered magical protection. SIlver drew black wing slowly, and pointed it at his cousin. Compelling the pit spawn to face him in single combat. The Baron went to laugh, but paused as the swords magic gripped him. The rogue leapt at him, and they clashed rapiers once again.
The main hall became a storm of carnage filled combat. The female judge roared, leaping at the party, while yet more poured from Esvelles portal. Ellywick and Finley combined to combat the judges, while Biblios charged into Vermillion and SIlvers duel. Tim hurling arcane bolts at the hissing Esvelle in a magic fueled contest, but the Tiefling was undone. The warlock became entranced by his foe, and thoughts filled his mind telling him to attack Silver. Energy crackled around his hands, as he slowly turned towards where his friends were battling.
Ellywick knew how to handle magic wielders, and with a swift incantation threw up a dome of silence over the main brawl. Vermillion showed the briefest irritation, but continued to exchange blows with Silver. The arrogant Baron had supreme confindence in his abilities, but perhaps was yet to face a rampaging blood thirsty dragonborn. Biblios slammed into him with crushing force and velocity, his axe raining down on the fiend with raw ferocity. Vermillion took horrendous blows that would fell a lesser being, hurt and bleeding he left the fray with a mighty leap into the air on crimson wings. Landing with a thud by the Blackwood chair, he gestured with his hand and another illusion dripped away. Revealing the fallen forest god Dorn had slain, the inky black spear still in its deer like form. The Baron pulled the spear free with a sickening laugh, wisps of oily smoke snaking around his hand.
Silver dodged a lunging blow from one of Esvelles minions, and acrobatically leaped out of the melee in pursuit of his nemesis. The rogue sprinted at the Baron, and with the faintest of movements drew a small vial from his pocket. Mid stride the half-elf simply vanished, causing Vermillion to scowl and scan the room. Silver had of course used the Oil of Etherealness, and was viewing proceedings from another plane. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Which wasn’t long, as the Baron was again assaulted by Biblios. Fully distracted by the Barbrians rage, the Baron didn’t see his cousin appear right behind him. But he did feel the full force of numberless magic missiles knifing into him, spinning his body like a ragdoll. Caught between the barbarian and the rogue, he was double teamed. The axe of Biblios sending Vermillion flailing back, right onto the obsidian point of Blackwing. The blade pierced true, and so ended the black reign of the of the red baron. As his final life force ebbed away, Silver whispered in his ear…"Gorga i’ Cam’wethrin, ten’ ron sana revenge vee’ eithel vee’ alma." Which loosely translates to ‘fear the thief, for they take revenge as well as wealth’. An old elven warning that his mother taught him as a boy.
Esvelles anguished scream filled the hall, causing all who heard it to claw at their ears in pain. Then she was gone, withdrawing to what ever hell spawned her. The minions she had summoned turned to ash on the spot, and the judges fell lifeless to the gore slicked tile. Tims eyes blinked, and the Warlock slumped to a near by column. He was once again in control, if you could ever say he was ever in control that is. Ravensbrook was liberated…and now had a new Baron.
Silver kicked the lifeless form of Vermillion down the steps, then seated himself into the Blackwood chair. “Well I imagine it is proper to pay you my friends, you have my eternal gratitude, for I could not have done this feat without you. What say we find the treasury?” he grinned.
“And the wine cellar…”Biblios smiled. Ellywick agreeing.
“And a broom..” Cheered Finley. Pushing aside a dead judge with her foot.
“urgggghhhmmm” Said Tim.
There was much to be done, the Order was still out there. But for now the party could celebrate.