10 Gaia’n, (April) – 16 Gaia’n, (April) 3363 A.A (263 A.F)
After discovering the ruins of an unnamed castle in the eastern half of Twin Valley, consensus decided full moons were key. So everyone parked there to wait for a week until Lena waxed full again in 6 days.
Some inspection found various signs of interest, but nothing living or dangerous around nearby. As time passed, the keen-eared among the party heard the sounds of chopping echoing from far to the north. Travelling up the valley, several sources of ax work were heard, two humans and a lizardman. All were starved and pallid, with sunken dull eyes and an unhealthy odor. They didn’t respond to anything social but kept gathering wood without rest. The only interaction they did respond to was a question about the location of the Lady; they would point south toward the castle. Dragging them away from their work only resulted in their fighting free to continue chopping. Finally Rolan decided to burn one, but the combination of a perfect shot and his weakened condition killed him instantly. The others were left to continue their lumberjacking ways in peace, but the wood they gathered and stacked at the castle door was burned every night for light and warmth, but mainly to deny anyone it’s use. If turned out later that the lumberjacks would work until they collapsed, only to immediately continue when they awakened hours later; a rather unhealthy course of action.
Later in the week, the huge scarred man was noticed wandering around. He returned to the rear of the castle (where his footprints had earlier been found) to sit and eat a captured hog. Approached by the group, he seemed wary and scared, backing away and moaning wordlessly. When fire was waved his way, he dropped the carcass of his meal and fled, leaping several feet up the wall of the ruins and dashing away over the rooflines. Following him, a hiding place in the eaves was discovered with some collected trash and rags, but the scarred man fled to the north and did not return.
Finally the next full Lena-moon arrived, along with a dense fog, cloudy stormy skies and (unsurprisingly) an intact castle…roof, gates and everything! The initial thought was to blow it down, with Carric summoning a storm and raking the roof with lightning blasts. After several bolts, a dark dapper man unseen until that moment stepped up behind Carric and said “Would you please stop doing that, it’s quite annoying.” He was dressed in fine rich clothing and polished knee-high boots, with short dark hair and a trimmed goatee. Noting the sharp and extended pair of fangs, the lack of noise while moving and the polite manners, Carric decided to stop immediately. “Thank you” said the gentleman, vanishing in a cloud of mist.
- _NOTE: the record has missing/mismatched notes here…y’all really need to keep your own accounts! *
- insert where remembered…^_^ *
Some time in here the team’s newly-elected medic Angus noted several signs of physical illness on the sunken-eyed men; boils, sores, and general bad breath all around. Carric used his magic (Lesser Restoration) to cure any poisons or diseases on one of the ill, and he collapsed and died instantly! Apparently the only think keeping the man moving was the drugs that both reduced his will and increased his strength and stamina. (NOTE: There are 3 physical saves involved and he missed all three at that point, dropping his exhaustion level far past the point of no return)
Also somewhere in here, the Anaya gloves were checked, and while the nearest-heir pointer went into the castle, the find-senior pointer when AWAY from it! Two Ironfists running around, or bad magic? Heading away, an older dwarf in fine clothing was found returning to the castle, unarmed but wearing jewelry incorporating the same clan sign from Agathius’ armor. He looked much healthier than anyone seen so far, ruddy and well-fed. Not much of true interest popped up, other than mention of Agathius.
- back to main flow… *
Approaching the alcove containing the front door and opening it, a large ornately-paneled room was seen, roughly half the side of the main rotunda. It was also noted that divine magics were weakened or absent within the walls, with cantrips such as Carric’s guidance failing altogether! The summoned lightning storm was also cut off within. It was deduced that the building did not seem to occupy the material plane, cut off from the usual mana flow.
Other than several wolves napping near the huge fireplace, the main room was empty, but they noted the opening of the door, and the small pack got up and exited the building without showing any care about our party. Another group of lightly-armed guard and wolf-men came down the main staircase from the 2nd floor, and also exited without comment. Backtracking the men up the stairs to a balcony, large double door featuring a wolfs-head within a crecent moon insignia were found. Opening them (and Rolan’s touch causing the doors to howl like wolves) showed a dining prep room; tables of covered dishes and more being removed from a dumb-waiter in the back wall by more unwell-looking men. From behind another set of curtained double=doors to the right, the sounds of dining could be heard.
The serving men continued to move, carrying dishes through the double doors. Moving into the dining room, an unsavory scene was revealed; a dozen men and wolf-men seated around a table covered with meat and soup, with a beautiful woman at the head of the table. She was pale with long dark hair and bright red lips dressed in a shimmering white gown and silver jewelry. Around her neck was a pectoral necklace showing the same insignia as the doors on the balcony. It was noted that the roasts on the table appeared to be mostly humanoid…
“Ah, visitors! Welcome to Clairelune! I’m afraid you’ve missed dinner, but if you’ll wait for a few moments for us to clean up and I will be glad to greet you properly! My servant will show you to the antechamber to wait!”. One of the sallow gentlemen serving gestured back toward the door opposite the dining room in the antechamber, and unwilling to start a fight, everyone followed. Through the far door, past some works of art, the quiet man showed everyone into a furnished personal chamber with padded satin walls, a small day bed, a full sized marble tub and several chairs. On bowing his way out, locks were heard to engage within the door.
Feeling unlucky, Rolen still managed to work open the bolt from within the room and the party headed back downstairs quickly and quietly. As the location of Agathius from the gloves pointed on the main floor beneath the dining antechamber where there were no openings, the group snuck through an arch on the other side of the fireplace looking around. An ogre-sized statue of a wolf-headed man formed of some black fine-grained substance stood against the far wall, a narrow passage led away from the pointer, and a set of double-doors pointed to the space beneath the dining room. Rolen snuck in, checking behind the doors, and found the kitchen; tables full of butchered animals and people, a couple of huge cauldrons cooking in another gigantic fireplace, and on the far side (room beneath the dining antechamber) was a pantry full of stored supplies and a dozen more idle people. They were just standing around mindlessly next to the meat hooka and crates of dinnerware, but were still alive, and one of them was Agathius!
Agathius was apparently under the same poisonous drugs as the others, but seemed otherwise unharmed. The rest of the party moved into the pantry, but passing the large statue caused it to start emiting a loud wolf howl. Not seeing many good choices, Carric again magically cleansed Agathius and he collapsed, living but unconscious! Being the strongest, Angus tossed Agathius over his shoulder and everyone ran past the cooks and howling wolf-man statue into the front hall. The door was still open, but coming off the stairs were a group of identical wolves. (Unnatural!) The doors above also burst open (but didn’t howl…) and several of the diners could be heard running on the balcony above.