Ascendancy

Session 17 - Blackgold keep

Excerpt from Jana’s adventure journal

The Mire Lord lent us a guide to lead us to the keep who led us to the a very tall and impassable wall of thorny vines. The wall itself was made of other shambling mounds who kept guard. Our guide seemed to speak to the guards in the wall and we were permitted to pass with no trouble.

Beyond the vine wall, the land was dead; touched by undead energies that rotted the land. I can see why the Mire Lord would hate this place much more than Bellis. It took us a good thirty minutes to an hour to walk from the vinewall to the keep. When we arrived at the keep, I wanted to climb over the outer keep wall rather than go in the obvious entrance. As I learned from a very young age, obvious entrances are obvious traps. Of course, no one listened to me and they paid for it with blood and pain.

There was a haunt in the crumbly entrance that panicked Jeriel and threw large rocks at Nessa, Jeriel, and Tom. Their wounds would have killed most people and beat the three half to death. However, did they heed my advice after that? no. They went back for more and tried to fight the haunt only to have more rocks thrown at them. Nessa told us all we needed to know about haunts. They were not really ghosts but after effects limited to one place, sort if like traps that react to certain conditions. Even with see invisibility, they could not see the haunt because it didn’t really exist as an individual being.

Eventually, the master of the keep showed up and scratched deep wounds into Nessa then fled back inside before we could do any real damage. The master was a spirit Nessa called a Bhuta. He was the angry spirit of the Consortium chief who died over thirty years ago when the Mire Lord murdered everyone in the keep. I decided to try a bit of diplomacy and a bluff. I told the spirit we were from the Consortium with orders to reopen the keep. The bluff worked as he invited us inside to chat. The bhuta turned off the rock throwing haunt and Gina and I carefully went inside. The others followed after curing their wounds.

Nessa, for her part was invaluable. She knew everything there was about this creature including its weakness to cold iron. She knew about the haunts. Her songs also helped us resist some of the fear magic later on. This entire mission would have gone much less smoothly without her sage knowledge.

After a few tense moments of creeping through the thick mist of the courtyard, we saw something that surprised us. Hung in the misty courtyard we found our lost friend Devarre. He was in really bad shape and the spirit was there next to him, sucking some blood to heal the wounds we gave it. I tried to play it off like I didn’t know Devarre. I continued with negotiations. I was beginning to think I could talk our way out of the battle but I was wrong. The creature couldn’t control its thirst for blood and suddenly attacked Jeriel who was the most wounded at the time. We first secured Devarre and formed a circle around him while Tom worked on the druid’s wounds. The spirit attacked then fled inside using an incorporeal and run strategy. The only thing to do against that tactic is to stand ready to attack as soon as he appears.

Suddenly two marsh zombies attacked. We attacked them but they were just a diversion. The spirit appeared after we had spent our attacks and clawed me deeply then fled back inside. I let Gina deal with the zombies while I and the rest of us waited for the spirit to come out again. He did come. He couldn’t control his thirst for human blood. This time he began sucking my wounds. When he did, the others were ready and nearly destroyed him before he fled into the mist. This is when he played his trump.

Suddenly from the mist hundreds of spirits appeared. Elves, men, halflings, all seemed to be in torment and under some control of the spirit. We were doomed until the most unlikely thing occurred – Nessa spoke to them in a diplomatic tone! She actually convinced them to help us too! The spirits pointed to a small building in the courtyard. Inside the well locked building was the keep’s armory filled with row after row of cold iron weapons!! There was also this magic rod Lem identified as having plant seeking powers. We started to pack up the cold iron weapons. When Nessa touched the rod, the bhuta popped out of no where and clawed her deeply. Mai was ready and laid hands upon the spirit and finally destroying it. With the Bhuta’s destruction, the other spirits looked at peace and drifted away to their rightful rest and the mists cleared in the keep. Victory was ours once again.

We searched the keep, collected all the valuables then left to complete our bargain with the Mire Lord. The Mire Lord was good to his word. He gave us the stones and promised to destroy the fellnight army within his lands. The Bramblemaster was to powerful for him, but he assured us the others would fall. Devarre took me, Jeriel, and Bluebell back to the Conclave while the others went back to Bellis via boat.

The Conclave meeting went well. With Devarre’s stirring support, everyone agreed to help Bellis, some more begrudgingly than others. Now is the time for the final battle to begin. In the morning, I’ll be heading to Bellis first thing. May our luck continue and may the gods be with us.

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Gardan

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