17 Longnight 508
At the University of Kalimsport, the Crimson Cord discusses their provisions situation in regard to their upcoming expedition to Cranbarrow Keep. They also discuss their past experience dealing with incorporeal creatures and how to deal with them. They decide to reach out to the dwarven prioress of the shrine to Skondir, Torga Sphereflint, in order to establish relations with her, and to see if she can secure them some holy water with which to fight the ghosts and spirits haunting the keep. Mahgnus and Surm Ulrich will go discuss the matter with the prioress.
The shrine to Skondir stands in Kalimsport’s temple district. It is an open-air building with no walls, only columns. in the center of the shrine is a working forge and an anvil which stands as an altar. The two men find the prioress, dressed in red robes, conversing with two other dwarves. They approach her, and Surm introduces them politely and indicates why they are coming to her.
The priestess agrees that it sounds like a noble cause, but admits that she is confounded as to why they are approaching The Maker with their inquiry. Surm, silver-tongued as ever, indicates that, as Skondir values making goods that last and excellence in craftwork, that the Crimson Cord wanted only the best in craftsmanship. The prioress seems to accept this explanation, and asks how much holy water did they need and when did they need them. Surm settles on ten flasks by tomorrow morning. The prioress indicates that she can produce only five by tomorrow morning, and only if he can provide twenty-five gold pieces of powdered silver for each flask in order for her to make it. If he can wait another day, she can make all ten. He commits to the five for tomorrow and say he will get back to her about the other five and he and Mahgnus return to the University.
Surm discusses his arrangement with the rest of the Cord and they decide to delay their expedition for another day so that they have plenty of holy water.
18 Longnight 508
The party all head to the market district and go to a shop that sells various spell components to procure the powdered silver necessary for ten flasks of holy water. Savaric stays back at the University and takes advantage of their hospitality.
Surm and Mahgnus then head out to the shrine of Skondir to deliver the powdered silver and pick up the five flasks of holy water and the news about the decision to wait for the five additional flasks on the morrow. The prioress offers to allow the two men to watch as she makes the holy water this morning. Surm and Mahgnus watch as she places a silver bowl of water on the anvil/altar and says prayers to Skondir over the water while adding the powdered silver. A soft glow suffuses over the water and then she pours the water into five flasks. She wishes the two men to have The Maker’s blessing on their journey.
19 Longnight 508
The party gets up early and they, as well as the entire guard contingent, heads out to the shrine of Skondir to pick up the remainder of the holy water from the prioress. The prioress provides the five flasks and again blesses their endeavor. The troupe then rides out of the city and toward Cranbarrow Keep. Elizir rides with Surm and directs the way to the keep, which lies some ten miles outside the city. Both Rilka and Surm note that the old man seems to have the shakes as he rides.
After a couple of hours, Elizir indicates that they are approaching the keep. As they approach, they can see that the central portion of the structure has completely collapsed, forming a large pit in the center of the keep. Some of the party can see, floating over the pit, a strange, multi-colored miasma. Savaric can see forms floating in the miasma. As they get closer, Surm and Mõrvar speculate on the nature of the miasma, thinking that it is residue from the alchemical explosion that took place here five years ago and that stepping into it could have unknown, dangerous effects. As far as getting rid of it, it would probably take multiple castings of greater dispel magic.
The troupe comes up close to the keep and sets up an encampment. Surm notices Elizir eyeballing the tower balconies and asks what he sees. The old man says that he doesn’t remember there being statues up there before. Looking up, sure enough there appear to be human-sized statues lining the balconies, four on each one. From further back on the approach, it was hard to make out details, but from the encampment, one can tell that they have a winged, demonic aspect to them.
Once the encampment is established, Mõrvar, Savaric, and Rilka start heading around the side of the keep to try and find an entrance allowing them to avoid the miasma-laden pit. Elizir mentions that the only other entrance he knows of is a secret passage leading out of the keep through the dungeon but the dungeon lies where the pit is. The passage opens up in the side of the hill.
As the three make their way clockwise around the keep, four of the statues off the southwest balcony suddenly leap off of the edge and swoop down toward them. An alarm is raised by the encampment and Surm shouts to Alasir to have the guards train their bows on the set of the “statues” on the southeast balcony.
Meanwhile, Savaric, Mõrvar, and Rilka square off with the four gargoyles. While Mõrvar and Rilka go toe-to-toe with theirs, Savaric withdraws from his, trying to get a decent shot off with his bow. The gargoyle takes to the air in pursuit, easily closing the gap. Meanwhile, Mõrvar and Rilka handily defeat their foes, allowing Savaric to lead his to them and he finally gets a shot off, finishing off last gargoyle.
As that fight took place, the gargoyles on the southeast tower leaped down from the balcony, flying toward the encampment. The guards fire their arrows at the gargoyles, but all of the bolts and arrows bounce off their hides ineffectively. Surm casts two admonishing rays at the creatures, which hit home, however, knocking two of the creatures with hard blows. The gargoyles land and the guards begin attacking the creatures with their melee weapons, ganging up on the four creatures with a vengeance, Alasir calling for the guards to “Attack!” Surm calls forth two more admonishing rays to help with the fight. The gargoyles apparently have had enough, as they take to the air to flee, allowing the guards to attack them once again. One of the gargoyles falls from the sky as three of them fly off. Surm then summons forth a fireball and blows them out of the sky. He then orders Alasir to have some guards mutilate the bodies to make sure they are dead.
Mõrvar mutilates the bodies of the fallen gargoyles at their end of the keep and the three head back to the encampment to report on what they encountered and to check on the explosion they heard. Surm explains what happened for his part of the battle. The three then return to the side of the keep to continue their exploration.
As they make their way around to the side, they see four more statuesque forms on the northwest tower. Savaric says he’s going to save time and go ahead and shoot one. Putting action to his words, he does so, and it falls from the tower, but the other three come swooping down. A fight ensues, wherein Savaric trips his foe, making it fall prone, a fact that Mõrvar exploits as he slays the creature. The party makes short work of the gargoyles. Mõrvar uses message to report to Surm that they killed more gargoyles. However, in the process, they also find a window that they can use to get inside. Surm and Elizir come and they make their way inside the keep through the window into the kitchen.
The kitchen is dusty, filled with rusty tools and discarded utensils. They decide to head up through the door to the servant’s quarters. As Savaric gets ready to head through the door, an insubstantial, translucent figure suddenly floats up out of the floor and appears before him and reaches out and touches him, making him feel corrupted and unclean. Mõrvar steps forward, Savaric steps back, and Elizir runs to the back of the room, shivering and whimpering. The party fights the ghost, eventually making it dissipate, but not before its corrupting touch affects Mõrvar as well. Rilka performs her healing magic on everyone and they move on to the servant’s quarters.
As they make their way through the west wing of the keep, they find no more ghosts—only dusty, empty rooms. The storage towers have old clothes, artwork, festival decorations, and the like. The dining room is mostly destroyed, though there is one surviving sideboard with the Cranbarrow crest carved on it.
As they get closer to the pit, Rilka casts detect magic on it—detecting a magical ambience about the miasma. This gives both he and Mõrvar food for thought about the magical effects of the miasma, making Mõrvar thinking that the reason the effects are unknown is because the effects are random and temporary—transitory and impermanent. This makes everyone feel a bit more confident about being able to explore the underground portion of the keep.
They climb the stairs in one of the side towers to the roof, cross the roof, to the next tower, and lower Rilka and Mõrvar down on a rope to the balcony, to check out the ballroom. While checking out the balconies, they discover that the gargoyles have their stashes of treasures there. Gold, platinum, silver, copper, gemstones, and jewelry for the taking. They collect the treasure as they make their way around the keep. As they make their way across the roof, Rilka notices four flying forms, gargoyles, flying off from the northeast tower in a northbound direction. The party speculates that perhaps they are fleeing, thinking that perhaps the violence done to their fellows was too much for them to handle.
They enter the east wing through the maids quarters and begin exploring the ground floor in earnest. When they come up on the chamberlain’s quarters, Elizir perks up. He goes to a chest and opens it, taking out a ceremonial dagger and a pouch. Then he goes to a desk and takes out a large, pewter seal. He fingers it pensively for a moment before placing it in the pocket of his cloak.
They make their way into the library, a larger room filled with dusty Ornish books of philosophy, natural history, poetry, and the like. Suddenly, another translucent form materializes from the shelves, moaning at the party. Surm yells for the party to take their positions. Savaric backs up and readies his bow. Rilka and Mõrvar take up flanking positions. A fight ensues, in which the spirit attacks Mõrvar, exerting its corrupting touch. Finally, the party take out the ghost, forcing it to dissipate.
Rilka applies more healing magic and the party makes their way into the drawing room, which is mostly destroyed. They then do the same trick they did on the west wing to access the second floor of the east wing and explore the master suite of the late Lord Cranbarrow. They search out the room, thinking that they may find the signet there. They find nothing of interest.
Finally having searched out all of the available rooms of the keep, the party discusses what to do next. They decide to use the secret passage Elizir mentioned to go to the heart of the pit and see if they can find the body of the late Lord Cranbarrow and the signet ring. They will simply have to risk the exposure to the miasma.
Elizir leads them down from the keep, where they pass the encampment. Surm notifies Alasir of what the new plan is and directs the guard captain to keep an eye out for any returning gargoyles or other threats. Alasir says “Yes, sir.”
The former chamberlain takes the party to a small copse of trees and brush on the side of the hill on which the keep sits. He starts clearing away brush, and the party helps him. Finally, the cleared brush reveals a steel grate, which Elizir unlatches and opens. Surm asks if there are any traps in the passage and Elizir says that there is not. The party enters the passage, with Mõrvar leading he way, light cast to illuminate his way, followed by Rilka and her glowing falchion, then Surm, Elizir, and Savaric at the rear.
The tunnel is a narrow, stonework affair and fairly straight. After a while, it starts to widen a bit and Mõrvar and Rilka start to feel and smell an uncomfortable, slimy smell in the air but feel no ill effects. Surm says to continue on. As they continue, they all feel the strange closeness in the air and suddenly Rilka and Surm start hearing the sound of a wailing cat start coming from Elizir’s arm. Looking at him, he stares horrified at his arm, rolling up his sleeve, revealing a cat’s mouth, inset into his arm, mewling pitifully at everyone. Elizir can barely contain his horror as Surm tries to reassure him that the effect should only be temporary. They continue traveling down the tunnel.
True enough, the cat’s mouth disappears from Elizir’s arm as they travel. They come upon a wider portion that looks like a room that’s roof has fallen through. They navigate their way around the debris. As they do, Surm and Savaric spot the skeletal remains of a hand poking through some of the debris. It is not wearing a ring. Using Mõrvar’s engineering know-how, they decide to start clearing away the rubble. But suddenly, Elizir calls out “What is happening to me?” while eyes suddenly pop out all over Mõrvar’s body and start blinking, and Savaric turns into a fish.
Mõrvar starts laughing at the predicament. Rilka cuts the top off of her waterskin and throws the Savaric-fish inside the water. Surm turns to look at Elizir (Mõrvar doesn’t have to turn as he can see all around him now), who is now incorporeal. He warns Elizir not to put his hand into the stones, as they don’t know when this is going to wear off and he could trap himself. Rilka mutters to the Savaric-fish how he owes her a waterskin now.
Surm realizes that he has a Locate Object scroll that could be used to find the signet ring. He casts the spell and it leads him to a pile of debris. Those party members that can, help with clearing the debris. Eventually, Mõrvar loses all but two of his eyes, Elizir becomes substantial, and Savaric emerges whole from Rilka’s waterskin. They finally find the remains of the late Lord Cranbarrow and the signet ring. They gently remove the remains from the debris and remove the signet ring from his finger and give it to Elizir for safekeeping.
Meanwhile, an arm with a hand attached to quietly grows out of Savaric’s chest under his armor. Savaric keeps this fact to himself.
Mõrvar wonders aloud at what can put these ghosts out of commission all at once. He and Rilka bring up the fact that ghosts can rejuvenate unless they are put to rest. So the party speculates on what will put these spirits to rest—getting rid of the miasma? Allowing Lord Cranbarrow to reclaim the estate? Burying all the remains?
As this is occurring, Rilka is casting detect undead around them in the pit. She does detect the spirits—and they are getting closer, converging on their position. They pick up the remains of Lord Cranbarrow and start heading out of the pit through the tunnel.
As they run, they hear moaning coming from behind them. Surm’s hand starts smoking, as if it had been on fire but was just extinguished. By the time they get to the edge of the miasma, Surm’s hand stops smoking.
They stop at the end of the tunnel and regroup. They decide to leave the remains there and go back to the encampment. There they will notify Captain Alasir of the new plan. They will leave the guards and Savaric behind to watch the keep. Surm, Mõrvar, Rilka, and Elizir will all return to Kalimsport to fetch young Lord Cranbarrow and to find a priest to cast the greater dispel magic spells to disperse the miasma. They will inter the older Lord Cranbarrow and have the younger formally reclaim the estate. Hopefully all of that will put the spirits to rest. They can also notify Lady Gynn of their plans and allow her participation if she so desires.
They leave the remains and put their plan into action.
The party arrives at the gates of Kalimsport near sundown. After paying their gate taxes, they separate—Mõrvar heads off to see Lady Gynn and to notify her of the plans, including for everyone to meet at her estate. Rilka and Elizir go to the Hall of Records to find Lord Cranbarrow to notify him of the events to the day and to fetch him to reclaim his estate and return the signet ring to him. Surm goes to the temple of Halor, Lord Sun, to find a priest powerful enough to perform the needed spells to clear off the miasma.
Mõrvar is admitted into the Gynn estate, having been recognized from his previous visit. He is brought into Lady Gynn’s sitting room where he meets with the noblewoman and describes the events of the day. She comments that she was right to hire the Crimson Cord for this particular endeavor. She is well-pleased. She is also amenable to having everyone meet at her estate this evening.
Rilka and Elizir head to the Hall of Records. The half-orc lets the old chamberlain do most of the talking and they are speedily admitted and taken to the young nobleman. Rilka introduces herself as a member of the Crimson Cord, which puts Lord Cranbarrow at his ease and he meets with the two outside the Lands office. They describe for him the events of the day and Elizir presents to him the signet ring. The young man takes it, with a solemn air, and says that he will, of course, accompany them to the keep. He must fetch his horse, as he usually takes a carriage about the city.
Surm goes to the temple of Halor, which sports a large sundial outside the main building which serves as a sort of public park. There are lesser priests outside, but Surm wants someone of import. He goes inside and is immediately approached by a priest who offers greetings. Surm asks to speak with someone in charge and explains that this is matter of grave import involving a magical accident that needs to cleaned up and public safety is involved. This persuades the priest to take Surm to the Abbot, who is in charge of the temple. The Abbot meets with Surm and seems familiar with the Cranbarrow story. He agrees that something needs to be done, but indicates that the spell is beyond his own power. He will need to consult with the Bishop. Fortunately, she is available, if Surm is willing to wait. Surm indicates that he is and the Abbot excuses himself. After about ten minutes, the Abbot returns with a woman who introduces herself as Bishop Lynel Winnarrow. She says that she agrees that something absolutely needs to be done about this matter. She will prepare her prayers and be ready to assist them first thing in the morning. Surm seems disappointed about the timing, but acquiesces and promises to come by at first light.
Everyone meets at Lady Gynn’s estate, where Surm announces that they will have to wait until in the morning to enact their plan, as the Bishop of Halor will need to prepare her spells. Mõrvar and Rilka decide to head back to the keep to notify Savaric and Captain Alasir of the new plan. Surm will ride out in the morning with everyone else.
20 Longnight 508
It’s a dreary, midwinter day Surm, Elizir, Lady Gynn and her entourage, Lord Cranbarrow, and a priest of Sadum that he commissioned for the occasion all head to the temple of Halor to pick up the Bishop Winnarrow. The Bishop is up and ready to go and they all ride out of the city for Cranbarrow Keep.
When they get to the keep, they receive the report that the night was quiet. Rilka, Surm, and Mõrvar escort the Bishop to the tunnel so that she can get to the heart of the pit to begin her castings. As they enter the miasma, Rilka develops a ten-pound cancerous tumor on her arm. Finally, the Bishop begins her spells and the party can feel the miasma fading away. Afterwards, Rilka notices that there is no more moaning—it’s quiet. Surm notices no more shadowy, translucent forms flitting about. The spirits seem to be gone. They all head back to the encampment.
Once there, Lord Cranbarrow makes a speech, thanking both the Crimson Cord and Lady Gynn for enabling him to reclaim his lost heritage. He encourages both of them to call upon him if he can ever repay that debt of gratitude.
Elizir brings up that there is one thing left to be done for the late Lord Cranbarrow. Surm indicates that he wasn’t sure if that was to be a private affair or not. Young Lord Cranbarrow says that it would be an honor if the Crimson Cord and Lady Gynn attended the internment of his father. So they collect the remains of Lord Cranbarrow and head to the mausoleum where the priest of Sadum performs the proper ceremony to inter the remains of the late Lord Cranbarrow.
Afterwards, when everyone is milling about outside the crypt, Lady Gynn pulls Surm aside and asks him how she can repay the Crimson Cord for their fine services. Surm demurs, indicating that they did not do this task for money or treasure. Lady Gynn smiles and says that in that case they are free to call on Lady Gynn should they find themselves in need.
Surm takes Elizir aside and gives him a sum of cash—44 platinum, 265 gold, 166 silver, and 30 copper. He says that this in his take for coming along, enduring the ghosts, and leading way. When he was found he was penniless and living on the streets. He could use this to help his lord rebuild or to stay off the streets. Elizir nods and says, “Many thanks. I will.”
Surm also speaks with the Bishop of Halor, indicating that should the need arise, she can call upon the Crimson Cord. They will be in Kalimsport for a time and can usually be found at the University.
Finally, everyone loads up and returns to the city of Kalimsport, this chapter closing and awaiting another one to begin.