Maid Service

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Scribe Notes

Summary

Adventure: Maid Service
GM: Scott Raymond
Season: Winter 809 wk
Night: Wednesdays/Mondays
Level: Medium
Place: Smiths at Mangere Bridge

Party
Employer
The Queen
Mission
Clean out the squatters - undead? demons?
Pay
Lots
Plane
Castrovalva

Standard Marching Order

Front: Starflower, Aqualina, Isil'Eth, Leonardo, Sooty, Arwen :Rear

Scribe Notes

1st Frost

Went to meeting room 29 and met a 6ft tall individual from somewhere off-plane. His Queen wanted a castle and a summer house cleaned out of squatters. Seems that the squatters are a flock of vampires. So, after introducing ourselves and sorting out who was doing what, we got on to the serious business of shopping - mainly for supplies. What we ended up with was:

  • Six rank 9 Agility potions (have to admit, am looking forward to having the agility of a fast elf - wonder if I can get that for real?).
  • Fifty rank 14 Waters of Healing (that's going to keep me busy for a while).
  • Eighteen rank 9 scrolls of Armours of Earth (that might keep Basalic busy for a while - depends how many we can scrounge up).
  • Six rank 7 Mind Cloak potions.
  • Ten methane grenados (maybe I'd better learn to throw them).
  • Twelve rank 6 Restoratives (that'll give Grizelda something to do besides cook).
  • Four charges of rank 10 dragonflames (so Flamis doesn't feel left out).
  • Several wooden crossbow bolts. (Arwen has the skills to make those).
  • Some holy water - if we can find someone to make it.

What was left over after the adventure would end up as party treasure. That doesn't include the Lessers and Greaters that those of us who needed them, well I dunno about the others, but I know I do. Since it's vampires, I decided to get mine in weapons and resistances. Isil Eth decided to bring one of her bodyguards to help carry stuff and help with the front line combat a man called Leonardo.

We also discussed buffs that can be put on people

  • Daily
    • My Waterbreathing. Then I can drop fogs in combat and it won't affect us.
    • Strength of Stone
    • Fire Armours
    • Force Shields
  • Combats.
    • My Waters of Strength (D-2)+10 PS
    • Isil Eth's weapon spell (+17SC, +7D (+21D versus unnaturals - including undead))
    • Isil Eth has a consecration that adds to magic resistances (+42 to friendlies, +26 to neutrals)
    • Starflower has an item that adds to defense and initiative (+6D +8IV)
    • Isil'Eth's personal consecration also enrages undead, which might make her their primary target.
    • Isil Eth can also increase people's height by seven feet (+7PS, +7EN)

It took us four days to get all of this lot sorted out. During that I obtained an Amulet of Diamonds (+2SC) and an Amulet of Chalcedony from Slippery Rock as well as a Greater from Herkum.

4th Frost

Finally, all set to go, we led our horses into the courtyard where our party employer was waiting. He produced a large sheet of paper and drew some symbols on it. Once done, a free standing portal appeared and we went through it.

We exited in the middle of a circle of standing stones, on top of a hill, feeling rather disorientated. So we groomed the horses while Starflower made tea. Finally, once we recovered, we headed down the hill and continued along a gravel road. Finally we reached a rather large town with a big wall around it and a cleared area around it. This place was well defended.

After entering the town we went up to the large castle in the middle of town and left our horses in the stable. We were then shown to rooms where we could leave our gear and get ready for our audience with the Queen. I chose my black silk cloth armour and carried only dagger and maingauche as weapons. Isil'Eth was positively radiant - literally - while Starflower bathed in her reflected glory. I was just trying to remain inconspicuous in the background.

The Queen was human, about 40ish and there was only one throne. She told us that she wanted her summer house back. It had been quite a few years since it was last used since it was in a remote area of the kingdom which was separated from the main area by a mountain range. The best way to get there was by ship along the coast then up a river. The trip would take roughly two to three weeks. The problem was discovered when an advance guard went out to secure the place and met unexpected resistance. Only one guard had returned.

The court historian was currently missing which got us rather suspicious. The summer palace was the original castle which meant we could be dealing with reanimated ancestors, maybe a necromancer. So we asked for floor plans and maps. We also looked at portraits of the ancestral line in case we met any of those as undead. Notes were also made of any regalia, especially a necklace with a stylised bird on it.

The summer house was 500 miles as the seagull flies and was the main palace of the old kingdom, before this lot came south over the mountains and kicked out the rulers of this kingdom. Apparently the other lot were right tyrants. There were fifteen generations of ancestors up in the old palace. No maps were stored here but we were able to find someone whgo could provide us with a rough sketch. Also, any treasure without the royal crest on it was fair game although they would like any regalia retrieved.

Dinner was in our private chambers.

5th Frost

We packed up and were escorted to one of the boats of the royal fleet. It was a lateen, powered by either sail or rowers. I slipped a ship's strength on it then put Waterbreathings on us and the helmsman, just in case.

8th Frost

Reached the ocean and I was sitting at the front with the forward lookout. I noticed that the ship was cutting through the water faster than I would expect, and there was no sign of a mage current. Arwen tried to determine if there was any magical effect that was causing that and got the answer "Seaweed". I was peering over the bow and, from what I could tell, the hull was unusually nice and slick. We were doing roughly ten knots.

The trip was uneventful. We used Crystals of Visions to keep an eye on the surrounding area but all the ships we passed were non-hostile. Probably trading vessels. Sooty taught those who wanted it, including me, how to throw grenados. I also went swimming alongside the ship but the little dolphins that we encountered were too skittish to play. Isil'Eth took the form of an eagle and went flying.

22nd Frost

After several days, we sailed upriver going past fens then, as we progressed upriver, the swamps gave way to cultivated land and the odd village. The summer palace was 250 miles upriver and we started stopping at villages along the way to see if there was any information we could get. Things looked fairly normal until we reached a village 55 miles from the palace. Here, the buildings were barricaded and there weren't many people in the open. Isil'Eth tried to talk to someone and, they were very nervous. They wouldn't talk to us until we moved the boat away from the dock.

We were told that an entire household had mysteriously vanished in the middle of the night and everything had been left as if they had just stepped out intending to return. To Starflower's annoyance, the villagers had since burnt the house down, destroying any evidence. I suspect that they must have thought it was cursed.

We then moved on to the next village, which was 20 miles further up and arrived there just before lunchtime. From here, the summer palace was only 10 miles away in a straight line but, since that straight line was over a rather steep ridge, and the river had to flow around it, it was still 35 miles upriver. We still had to round the ridge. At this village Starflower got 40 odd minds and, even accounting for any resistances, we soon concluded that there were too few villagers than there should be. One large building had 26 of them in it. They had really barricaded themselves in as well, even more firmly than the last one. According to the captain's map, this was the last village before the palace. There was another village up river past the palace and we suspected that they were even more spooked than this one.

From what could be determined from the mind that Isil'Eth was able to interrogate it was described as the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. People were just going missing with no clues as to why. The latest one went missing yesterday.

While I kept watch from the crows nest, the rest of the party travelled the Astral Plane to get into the village. They emerged in one of the buildings and were able to subdue two inhabitants. No magic had impacted on either of them but that wasn't the case a few minutes later after several attempts to charm, pacify and hypnotise. They finally resorted to a sap. Once that had been sorted out they were told that the people seemed to be disappearing in the blink of an eye. You'd see them one minute, look away, look back, and they'd be gone. Nothing unusual had been seen or heard. The perpetrators seemed to like hiding and they left no trace. It was suspected that they were stronger than the average human and they were either very fast or very stealthy.

Isil'Eth decided that we should stay the night. So she travelled back to the boat to get Leonardo and me before sending the boat downstream out of the way. It had been theorised that it may be the Imperial Standard that was spooking the townsfolk especially as if they thought the Summer Palace was the cause of their woes. When I got there the two peasents had been trussed up and Starflower was trying to be pleasant and was offering tea. I think the attempt was really spoiled since she was still clad in her glassy plate mail armour. She then decided that nice wasn't working so she went into dominatrix mode. This time she had more success.

Basically he had no idea what was going on, apart from people vanishing and it didn't seem to matter whether it was day or night. No one else seems to have any firm ideas either.

That night, we set up watches. I was on last, Starflower was first. Isil'Eth tranced the entire night but could be alert at a moment's notice. Sooty, Arwen, and Leonard clustered their watches in the middle. During the night, Isil'Eth went for a walk while shrouded in a glowing nimbus. Nothing leapt out to attack her. She saw nothing and heard nothing. She repeated the attempt at 4am with the same result.

23rd Frost

Morning was breakfast but the odours failed to entice any of the hungry villagers out. We continued waiting but no one had emerged by lunchtime. Finally Isil'Eth tried an appeal .. or was that an ultimatum. Whatever it was, it worked as the door open and a 20 year old youth called Roland was tossed out. Isil'Eth told then that she was going to give them the option to get on the boat which would take them downstream to safety. It took a bit of convincing but they finally agreed to do it. So, once they were gone, we settled down in the now, empty, village. Nothing had happened by nightfall.

24th Frost

Night passed without notable incidents. The next morning, it was decided to head up river to the summer palace, but not using a boat. Instead, we were going to be underwater and pushed along by a mage current. In case we were going to rush out of the water, run across the ground, and storm the castle, I plated up. Besides, I knew what would happen if I didn't. Buoyancies were also put on those that needed it.

We headed up river without incident. Isil'Eth wanted us to prepare an area that could be consecrated, and that we could retreat to if we had to. However, the only structure that was on the bank was a jetty. No boat house as we had been hoping for. The castle itself was 200 ft above the river level as it sat on top of a hill with steep cliffs on all sides. It was basically on the tip of a peninsula that had been cut off. A drawbridge connected the hill to the rest of the peninsula, 180ft above the ground. So we exited the water about half a mile further up river. Sparse scrubland separated us from the castle.

So Arwen conjured up an elemental and had it cut a tunnel that led from the river towards the castle. At the end of that, a cave was made so we could camp. Isil'Eth consecrated the cave while Sooty warded it. We had placed the cave in the hill 100ft underneath the castle and, once we were ready, a tunnel was created that spiralled up towards the castle basement. The earth elemental then acted as a plug while we rested for the night. Nothing untoward happened apart from a visitation from a curious rabbit. Starflower, in dragonform, decided to have a quick snack. Isil'Eth had a thought that the minds that she could detect above were a fuzzy cross between a lich and a vampire.

25th Frost

We exited the hole into a five foot wide passage. Following standard dungeoneering procedures, we turned left. The corridor continued and, in three places along it, it expanded to form a ten by ten room. We came to the conclusion that they were passing bays for knights in plate mail. All of them were empty.

The corridor then turned before ending in a large circular room. Spiral stairs in the center headed upwards. Nine statues of humans with appropriate equipment lined the walls. Some knights, a king and a queen. Nature of magic on the statues: Earth. Name of magic: Transform. Effect of magic in trap/ward/curse: None. Counterspell required to remove: no answer. All we could determine that they were items under active magic but not under a curse or illusion.

We decided to find out if the other direction from the hole's entrance was symmetrical with this one. After passing the entrance, we reached a room with no other exits. Well, that's what we thought until Starflower detected a concealed door. Another five foot wide corridor was on the other side. Finally we reached a crossroads and, since more undead were detected to the right, we went that way. In this branch, there were three doors on the left hand side, three on the right, and two at the end. Each room behind the doors was fifteen feet square. According to Isil'Eth, only room 4, counting around from the left was occupied.

What we found:

  1. Our heads hurt just by looking in. The internal colour scheme was headache inducing.
  2. Tasteful. This was a masculine room with leather armour (800 yrs old - cow). The frilly pink underwear was rather disturbing though.
  3. A ladies room, with standard female type apparel inside.
  4. (see below)
  5. A bedroom ... smelt like jock i.e. an athletic type male
  6. A bed ... and nothing else
  7. An art studio - with rather stomach churning art. Rather exquisite though. Isil'Eth wanted to open an exhibition. I guess there's no accounting for taste.
  8. A pink bedroom ... and I mean really hot pink.

Finally we entered the occupied room, which was another bedroom decorated in a gothic style. There was only one person here. Male, humanoid, definately looked vampiric but wasn't taking any damage from Isil'Eth's aura. He told us there were thirty of them and he had lost count of his age about 600 years ago. He had woken up a few years ago when one of the other vampires, a lady called Valeria, whom he described as weird and pink, opened his coffin. Usually they weren't all awake at once, but someone had woken up nearly all of them, and he didn't know who. The first six or seven vampires had been infected when a female vampire turned up as a mail order bride. She's still here and was aged 12 when she arrived. His GTN was not human and not vampire but a mixture. Arwen wasn't sure exactly what it was but she described it as being in a gothic script. All we could tell that he was on the border between life and death. He even told us he had sired children, certainly not usual for a standard vampire. Also there weren't any typical vampiric reactions from Isil'Eth. He did have the vampiric commanding presence as he proved on me .. even though I tried really hard to resist his vampiric charm.

After we explained the situation and why we were here, he decided it might be best if we met the others who were congregated upstairs. So he took us back along the corridors we had came down, into the room with the statues and up the stairs. Two flights later we ended up in the antechamber to the throneroom where we were told to wait until we were announced.

While we waited. Starflower did a limited precog. She wasn't sure, but there was a good chance that things could turn ugly. Crap!

On our cue, we entered. This was definately the throne room. The carpet up to the throne was lined with fifteen vampires .. crap .. and most of them were looking at us as if contemplating lunch ... crap ... and there were another 12 of them, armed to the teeth as guard types ... crap. They were all pale, many of the noble looking ones were holding glasses containing a reddish liquid, obviously blood ... crap ... and they were all smiling .. crap ... and I'm starting to sound like Scorpion .. double crap. Maybe I was getting paranoid but things definately did not look good for us. We were all under a Mind Speech and Isil'Eth and Starflower seemed much more composed. Maybe it was an elven mind mage thing.

On the throne was a thirteen year old looking vampire, presumably the one we were told about and she was playing with a rubber duck. Just then this male toffee nosed twit vampire noble, who we later discovered was Samuel, headed over to Isil'Eth, got right in her face, and was about to say something when he was suddenly flung across the room and into the stone wall, resulting in a rather sizable dent in it. He then proceeded to peel himself off, looking a bit flatter. Well .. that was certainly going to leave a mark - and not just in the wall. The flinger was the young girl who was now hanging off Isil'Eth's arm ... and I swear she covered the entire distance in a blink. They then both floated, literally, over to the throne where they played 'tea party' while braiding the hair of another couple of vampires, including one really butch warrior type, while exchanging pleasentries. I was definately starting to feel really wierded out, especially when it looked like Isil'Eth was getting right into the hair braiding thing. Don't even think about trying that on my hair.

According to Arwen, the young vampiress, who we later discovered was called Melina, had a similar GTN to our guide but was more gothic. Also her willpower was inhumingly strong, comparable to some ancient dragons that Arwen had encountered. Made sense to me though. I suspected that whoever was in charge was there because they could dominate the others. Her greatest vunerability was runic iconography. Hm .. so the right rune could keep them at bay.

We were told that they have problems travelling. They need the soil from their graves to sleep on. Here, they use beds - with the soil packed underneath. Most of them died here and the rest felt safer here than where they were. Apprently they were having a lot of problems with angry mobs armed with pitchforks and flaming torches. Looking at some of them did seem to show some similarities with the royal portraits we had seen. May not be in the direct line but probably cousins, aunts, uncles etc.

There was one other vampire in the region who was different. Could be a predator. Maybe this one is the one responsible for the disappearances. Melina also told Isil'Eth that the reason that they had all woken up was a severe earth tremour. I had visions of vampires being tossed out of bed. She also said that her Master, the one who had turned her into a vampire, had moved on. The way she said it seemed to apply he had transcended ... or maybe ascended.

Isil'Eth told her about the guards who had come here and only one had returned. She had no recollection of that but said that there was the chateau in the mountains and it was more likely that was the building used as the summer retreat. Also, when asked about the villages and the missing people, Melina said they usually hunt upriver and concentrate on animals.

To get to the chateau we could fly, or we could borrow some riding mounts they have. Before we went down to the stables, we were given some guest quarters and shown the bath complex. We were also assured there would be no unauthorised biting.

The bath complex was interestng. Steam rooms, hot tubs, a large tepid plunge pool which I felt I could stay in all day, and a really deep cold pool. It was so deep that, when I attempted to plumb the depths, I got right to the edge of the Mind Speech range and it was still going down into darkness. I decided not to push it. Going out of Starflower's Mind Speech would have guarenteed getting yelled at.

After freshening up, we headed down to the stables. I was back in my silk armour, which I considered more appropriate for court. The horses .. were a bit of a surprise. Thay had teeth .. more suitable for a carnivore. Still, as we found out, they still liked sugar lumps and apples. Arwen seemed rather interested in the horses and wanted to know if any were for sale. Finally one was led out and I clambered on top ... and found myself flying. I got up, dusted myself off and got on again. After the sixth attempt, the horse stopped tossing me off and allowed me to sit on it. However, I don't think I won the battle of wills ... probably the horse let me win. I asked the stablemaster what the horse's name was and he replied "B'Stard". Figures.

The others didn't seem to have as much trouble with their horses. Being able to magically talk to them probably helped. There was another horse in the stables I was introduced to but no one rode this one. It was white, with black kit, a holder on one side of the saddle for some sort of pole weapon and looked more real than everything else. So much more real that everything else to it was insubstantial. The name label said "Binky" and it had sired all of the other horses here, who were all mares. Any stallions born were killed as potential competitors. Binky proved he could move through objects when he poked his head into my haversack and got at the sugarlumps. I just hoped he didn't find the taniwha. He then nuzzled my pocket as I patted him, and I found I had a pocket full of lumps. So he got fed some.

Meanwhile Isil'Eth was finding out just what these horses could do, and how fast they could go. Her horse, called Ariel, was actually waling up the castle walls. It then bounced from wall to top of tree, to the next tree, off the bush then back onto the road. Now we know why there are raised backs on the saddles.

I then went out for a speed test - and immediately wished I hadn't. These horses were really, really, fast. Faster than shadowings, maybe even faster then fire running. Isil'Eth reckoned my scream changed in pitch as I went past.

Sooty had decided not to take a horse. Instead he conjured up an efreet. After a while, one of the horses wandered over and leaned on the efreet, and didn't take burn damage. The efreet looked at the horse. The horse looked back and continued leaning. Finally the efreet wandered off.

Arwen was still trying to negotiate the purchase of her horse with the stable master while Starflower just got on with the 'getting to knoe your horse' routine. Finally we all set out on a more sedate trial trip. At least these horses walked, trotted and cantered normally. Just don't go for ridiculous, or even ludicrous speed.

It was getting late by now so, after a quick grooming, we put the horses away and headed back up to our rooms for the night. We kept a watch but, some diversions were offered during the night which some of us took advantage of. Decorum dictates not describing them, but just to mention that all involved had fun.

26th Frost

It was 25 miles to the chateau by the easy route, 12 miles by the nasty shortcut. The area around the chateau was scryed to find a suitable place to hide and make a cave. What we found was the chateau was surrounded by trees on a ledge and orientated so that one side, not the back, was facing the mountain. It was easy to find a spot where we could make a consecrated cave to tunnel our way in without being observed.

So, we headed up, taking the easy route. No undead were detected on the way up. We reached a point on the ledge that was a quarter of a mile away from the front of the chateau. There, Arwen started creating the tunnel and Isil’Eth consecrated it, both inside and on the entrance.

After morning tea, we prepared for potential combat and busted our way through the last ten feet into the lowest level of the chateau. Starflower’s telepathy didn’t pick up a thing. Isil’Eth detected undead within 500ft, also even down to 120ft., and there were quite a few of them. Isil’Eth’s sword was glowing and it appeared really keen to get in there.

When we busted through, we found a room containing a stone sarcophagus and a whole crowd of lesser undead, skeletons and zombies. A skeleton looked at Isil’Eth and laughed. A split second later, it laughed no more.

    Starflower – “Well. No wonder my ESP didn’t pick up any brains”
    Aqualina – “Yep. That’s a no-brainer”.

With the mass firepower we had at our disposal, it did not take long for us to dispose of them. Thank goodness my visor was down otherwise my hair would have been full of undead fallout.

No presence was detected inside the sarcophagus. The decoration indicated some sort of knight type with heraldry that was in the royal line but an earlier version. The body, once the lid was removed, was wearing decorative burial plate.

The skeletons etc, at least the one we chose as a sample, had been dead for 240 years and was last animated around 150 years ago. The air in the chamber was non-magical but the walls had shaping magic on them. Same with the floor. Uncolleged magic though and Arwen described the aura as being gothic. Greater Undead were detected upstairs.

The plan was to clear this level and,, whenever possible, turn left so it would be done in a systematic fashion. More sarcophagi and statues were found. The statues had a GTN but it had been erased from the aura. Of course, any undead encountered were blasted into oblivion.

We found the stairs going up so walls were placed over them to temporary block them off while we completed the level clearance.

In one room, behind a secret door, we found what appeared to be a temple. There was a summoning circle/pentagram that hadn’t been used but was fully charged and ready to go. I got a weird shade of purple when I tried detecting for traps, wards or curses.

Last time this had been used was 482 years plus or minus 10 and the last thing that came through was a Pleasing Incubus which had the ability to corrupt its victims morally and socially. There was also a large shield on the wall, which is designed for demonic summoning, also fully set up and ready for use.

There was some discussion on what we could summon in order to defuse it. Someone suggested Liessa, which was nearly unanimously agreed upon as being the best idea. Finally we sealed the room. Maybe we’ll come back later.

A limited precog was done on going up the stairs. According to Starflower she encountered light, as it was brighter up there, then she saw a tree drawing itself. She called it a decision tree. Isil’Eth detected a mind upstairs, just within range. She believed it was either asleep or unconscious.

The next door we went though had a large pool of water in it and a domed ceiling with a 20ft wide hole in the apex, right above the center of the pool. We could see the sky through the hole. The water was cold and looked deep. Probably spring water, but this was not the time or place for a swim.

We kept going and started coming to the conclusion that there was some symmetry in the layout, which meant, that behind that wall, should be another summoning room. Sure enough, there was – and it was occupied by the ugliest looking critter I had ever seen. Corruption Demon according to Arwen. After establishing that magic cannot pass through the circle from the inside, that the demon had been there for 47 years and that a Greater Summoner Counterspell was required to banish it, we closed the door and sealed it.

Back to the pool room and continued sweeping the level.. The next set of doors looked more worn and, when we opened them, we found ourselves at an underground dock. Flat bottom barges were moored there and a river extended away down the tunnel. A crevasse in the roof let in light. After making sure we hadn’t somehow entered another plane or even been translocated on this plane we examined the area. The boats still had a ship’s strength on that had been there for several years.

Isil’Eth and Arwen flew up and out of the crevasse and discovered they were now behind the chateau. No doors were on this wall but there were a few windows. So it was decided to bring everyone else up here and assault the place this way. We were sure that they would not be expecting that.

The nearest window was 7 to 8 feet up the wall and had raised bars across it which allowed the window to open. So the elemental removed the bars and we reinserted them into the wall to form a ladder.

The room we climbed into was a fairly large room with barred windows and doors. We got the impression we were in the prison area. Once through the door we were in a courtyard. There was a hole in the middle and we could see water below, the pool room to be more precise.

There were eight sets of doors going into the courtyard so we decided to work our way around, again going left. It must be an adventuring tradition. Found storage rooms, flight of stairs going up and down, and a non functioning kitchen.

The next room was the dining room, but now was the larder. The room was full of gibbet cages, each containing a body. All were dead, except one. He had been drained repeatedly and was just hanging on physically. Mentally he was way gone. We left him for now.

The next room was rectangular and contained the front door so this was the main entrance hall. It contained pretty statues, stairs going up Kept on going around into what may have been the servants area. Many zombies were found and destroyed with ease.

Finally a mind was detected that was bored .. highly intelligent boredom. So we powered up fully taking an agilty potion followed by a Waters of Strength before heading in, the elemental booting down the door.

This room was a chapel and, surrounded by a load of dead corpses was a greater undead that was a zombie like entity. Phantasms went in followed by Arwen and the elementals. The creature responded by leaping right over the top and landing by the door where the rest of us were. It was really really fast. It then attacked one of the elementals which vanished. The second one didn’t last much longer. Isil’Eth’s hit caused smoky holes to appear but didn’t take it down. It then gained a shocked expression when Isil’Eth dodged it’s next attack. Isil’Eth and Arwen then waded into it while the rest of us provided supporting fire.

Combat raged on with Isil'Eth, Arwen and Leonardo laying into it doing massive amounts of damage, leaving lots of holes in it but still it battled on. Fortunately Isil'Eth was able to somehow dodge all it's attacks. Meanwhile Sooty was attempting to hellfire it ... and a giant squid suddenly splattered down on top of nearly everyone. I was so surprised, my attempt at creating a fog failed. Fortunately it succeeded on the next attempt. Arwen then managed to decapitate it but, even that didn't stop it. Sooty then grabbed the head and put it in a sack.

A DA, suggested by Sooty (note to nominate him for Smartest) told us that the most effective way of killing it was to, basically, castrate it. A few attempts later, and Isil'Eth got the lucky shot. The entity just stood there, stunned, then dissolved into a mass of rotting flesh. Meanwhile Starflower and I had been attempting to control the squid, initially to stop it from flailing around but, once the undead was disposed of, in order to try and get it into the hole and down into the pool. Starflower succeeded in doing this and the squid was dumped into the water. I guess we are going to have to explain to Her Majesty why there is a giant squid in their water supply.

We searched the body and the room. Nothing was magical, including the statue, and there was basically no useful loot. No secret doors either.

Finally we finished checking this level and went up one of the flight of stairs. Nearby we found a secret door. Isil'Eth's sword was still glowing to warn us of undead and, after opening the door, we found one, another of those grey slimy jumpy things. It didn't last long. According to Sooty, it's called a Spring Heeled Jack. I referred to it as a Jumping Jack Flash.

The room we were now in looked like a more pretty formal dining hall. We encountered a wraith, which exploded as soon Isil'Eth got close to it. Next was the library. Unfortunately the books were mostly written in unknown scripts. Something else exploded which had been trying to hide.

Finally found a rather irritated vampire type creature in a bed chamber. Isil'Eth charged so Arwen and I followed. Sooty detected that the vampire was thinking of coffee, and lunch, in that order. Isil'Eth drove her sword through it's chest. The creature promptly exploded, sending burning bits of corpse all over the place. Arwen and I were splattered. I ended up knocked back against the wall. And all Isil'Eth got is a small soot mark on her forehead - and she was right on top of it. Note to self: Next time Isil'Eth charges undead, stay back, and out of the blast range.

It didn't take too long to clear the chateau of undead. Once we were done, we went through the place making a quick catalog. We found lots of stuff, expensive foodstuffs in cabinets that preserved it, suits of armour, weapons, tapestries, rugs etc etc etc ... including a library that was full of books and scrolls. One of them bore the royal crest and seemed to be some sort of history. None of it we could read but we were interested in getting them translated. The question was, how were we going to get all this stuff out of here? Looking at it all, we estimated that we had over two hundred thousand silvers in salvage.

The answer was fairly obvious when I thought about it. The dock with the barges and the underground river. So we went back down there to see where the river went, and whether it connected to the actual river outside, even though the river here, was at a much higher altitude. So I ship-strengthed one of the barges and we sailed down river. What we discovered was a Rube Goldberg contraption that was some sort of mechanism to raise and lower boats from this level down to the river at the base of the mountain. It took us an hour to get down and ninety minutes to get back up again. I was imagining what sort of steam powered construction Mortimer would have come up with seeing this.

Loading up the boats was made easier by the construction of a chute to slide everything down and, with the help of two new earth elementals, the boats were loaded up and we headed back down. On the way, we stopped off at the castle to say goodbye to the vampires and arrange the acquisition of some of their horses. I decided to transfer my share of the horses to Isil'Eth as I had nowhere to house them. The vampires even gave us a letter to pass on to the Queen.

10 Snow

Finally arrived back at the capital with four boatloads of stuff. All the boats were put under guard and we headed off to the Palace. A quiet interview was arranged with the Queen and we had to stave off the attentions of the Royal Historian, the old guy we had met previously. He wanted access to the books, especially the one with the Royal Crest on it. However, officially, we weren't here yet. The summoning circles were mentioned and the Queen agreed to send experts to deal with them. Finally an agreement was reached that we would gain 100,000 for purchase of investments, spells etc, and 150,000 in straight cash.

Or sort of .. we did bring back bucketloads of money though. Also we stayed quite a while for training. I was finslly able to learn Water College Investment. By the time we got back to Alusia, it was actually very close to the Guild meeting .... i.e. ... tomorrow. Talk about cutting it fine.