I’m not entirely sure how much you might have seen from outside the castle, so I think it’s best if I simply start from the beginning. Please forgive me if I repeat anything you already know. Bahamut was kind enough to send us to Guardholme from Celestia, putting us down three days before Balthasar’s ethereal castle was going to appear.
You had the chance to meet Kylie Droverson, the necromancer who worships Pelor that Marcus brought to us. She seems very competent, though a touch disgruntled by the way our group seems to operate. I suppose I can understand, though, since we have made some… less than optimal choices. Still, Kylie was incredibly helpful and seems like she’ll make an excellent addition to our team.
Even with plenty of time to prepare, getting through the castle was difficult. We had not so much stepped on the drawbridge when we were attacked by two flagstone golems and, as Loreli explained, an undead triceretops. Villius ended up using a haste talisman on Loreli’s summoned rhino and rode it over the golems and into the castle. This seemed to surprise Bartholomew enough to get us inside the main hall.
He wasn’t entirely at a loss, though, and we found ourselves separated and sent to different parts of the castle. Idrys, Loreli, Jevan, and Marsys found themselves in the old servants’ quarters — which was filled with devil dolls. Evidently Idrys found them particularly repulsive. Kylie, Tulla, and Villius fought undead cooks in the kitchen. Marcus and I were left in the hallway leading to the tower where we overheard Kalur and Arabell having a heated discussion.
Once our group was reassembled, we made our way back to the main hall, which was empty now, and headed up stairs. We fought a trio of stone golems which Tulla cleverly thought to trip, putting a hole in the fragile floor and nearly crushing Bartholomew’s entourage of skeletal mages and fencers in the hall below. They were quick to vacate that area, so we moved on to the jail cells in the side tower.
There we found poor ancient flan who had been transformed into terrible undead beasts. They were torturing what looked to be a living piece of cloth. Fortunately, these monsters were highly susceptible to sunlight, and Marcus was able to destroy them with his magical bracers. Loreli, who seemed to know something about it, took charge of the cloth, packing it away where it could heal and be safe. After encountering a rather shocked succubus lying on a bear-skin rug, we were able to head into the last tower and descended into the crypts. There we were confronted by creatures that Marcus identified as reapers — which Tulla and he destroyed surprisingly quickly.
Inside we found Jack tied to an altar with an Illithid priest, who I have to assume was the G’tharak we learned about from the cultists of Urdlen, Balthasar, four vampire spawn, and a very concerned looking Kalur. Idrys informed us that Bartholomew was lurking invisibly — something we’re coming to expect. Things began happening immediately as Jack cast a spell that let him switch places with the illithid, who’s dark spell ended up destroying him. Kalur moved to help his disoriented brother while Villius tackled Balthasar and stuffed garlic into his mouth. Which wasn’t terribly helpful, but very distracting. They scuffled for a bit before Balthasar tossed our brave barbarian away — just in time to be struck by a pair of purified fireball arrows from Idrys. Balthasar and his spawn were completely destroyed.
We had only a moment to regroup as the shadows in the room began to coalesce into the form of Lianna Von Slythe, who turns out to have been a shadow dragon in life. Bartholomew cackled in his corner while he stabilized the portal the illithid had started to open. He pulled a young boy, 7 years old, from nowhere and told us he would always have a backup. Kalur cried out that the child was his and Arabell’s son, so I ran to help.
Turn to leave, Bartholomew found himself mask to mask with… himself! The strange other Bartholomew changed the destination of the portal just as I tackled Lianna. Dark mist poured out, sweeping us all away. Fortunately, Marcus used his magic to anchor himself, Kalur, and Jack. As for the rest of us…
We found ourselves in a castle… but a distinctly different one. It was dilapidated and crumbling, housing a grim and shattered throne. Tulla immediately recognized it as Vecna’s Spider Throne from the stories of the Heroes of the Key. She told us we had to be in the strange demi-plane where Vecna had been trapped for many years. We decided to cautiously explore.
In what had to be his study, we came across many historical tomes that were of potential use to us. It seems the archlich had an obsession with Ygrax and the Isle of Woe. He was disinterested in the Soul Gem and believed the Codex of Infinite Planes was “for the weak.” We also came across a strange box, scorched by powerful magics but sealed with the symbols of the good gods. Evidently, even his vile might wasn’t enough to crack the seal.
It then that Marcus suddenly appeared, wielding a sentient sword he called Mistkeeper. It seems the weapon is tied to that place and could travel between the planes. Mistkeeper, with more casualness than the situation warranted, told us that Bartholomew had managed to “jump” elsewhere and that the poor child had “skipped” even farther still. Marcus hastily explained that time did not pass the same way there, and that we had been gone much longer than the seven hours that had passed for us.
Using the sword’s power, Marcus returned us to Greyhawk City in the temple of Pelor. There Jack and Kalur informed us we had been gone two weeks and it was now the 4th of Coldeven! Suddenly, our many weeks of time to prepare for the tower of Inverness was cut to just one. Our time was running very short.
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