Friday, August 5, 2022

Deep in the Staff

 So we’ve fallen into Chuck’s staff, the one that has the Pit Fiend into it. In here, we’re sort of the opposites of what we used to be. Balaam will be trying to deceive us; also, he’s been quietly absorbing the souls of the people we’ve killed. Apparently he’s building a city in the crystal on the end of the staff, which will eventually shatter the crystal and release Balaam and his army of slaves.

There are medallions that will help us to identify the two beasts who have some degree of free will. We’ve also run into a number of people, including an old lady who’s sort of haunting her room in the castle. Apparently we’re looking for Lord Prisius’ daughter, who fell in love with Jacobius. We have very much failed to resolve this situation. Heronomo the bard has been following us around, and Chuck has wandered off with him to explore the back passages of the castle. 

Apparently we’ve found a room full of creepy dolls, and Durest took one for the specific purpose of scaring someone later. Chuck has also taken a doll. Durest and Jenny have been wandering around and just looking around and talking to people. Also, Chuck and Heronomo are both dressed as ghosts.

The last thing that happened was that something assaulted Chuck’s mind. 

Angry (and not particularly smart, here) Chuck charges into a wall and nearly brains himself. Heronomo casts light, and some creature is floating next to Chuck. The creature focuses on Chuck, and the pain invades his head again. Chuck is staggered, and Heronimo comes up and casts Fear, at which point the thing retreated into the darkness.

Chuck gets back to his feet. The imp has moved some distance away, and Chuck tries to duck out of the thing’s line of sight. Heronimo fires his crossbow but misses; the imp tries another mind attack, but fails against the bard. Chuck rages and attacks, but misses; Heronomo moves up, and the fear spell drives the thing further away. Chuck follows and attacks, striking the thing critically and just… splatting it against the wall. 

However, now Chuck hears something around the corner. “Heronomo! Come!” he charges again, and Heronomo follows. 

He finds himself coming up on three creeping things, vaguely humanoid, with no skin and oversized hands. They’re just at the edge of the light, and Chuck moves up and smashes one of them with his maul, killing it. Heronomo moves up behind Chuck, creepily massaging his shoulders and encouraging him. Chuck kills another one, takes some claw damage, and then kills the last of the lemures. 

Heronomo: “Never have I see someone defeat single-handedly such denizens of the underworld as you have done here today!”

Chuck is absolutely convinced that Heronomo was being sincere.

They hear that moaning ghost-sound again. Heronomo: “Chuck! The ghosts are back! We must abscond before they return!” He cajoles Chuck into going back to find his friends before fighting the ghosts. If Chuck didn’t know he was a noble and heroic bard, he might think Heronomo was scared. 

Meanwhile, Jenny (now a charismatic halfling) and Durest (now a monk, for some reason) have been talking to the kitchen servants; they now head out to find someone - Corra - who has a crush on Lord Crisius and also knows everything that’s going on. We also need to go back and talk to one of the stable workers. 

We walk back into the dining room where Lord Prisius received us; we find Corra there, cleaning some tables. 

Durest: “Oi, lass! What were we supposed to ask ye ‘bout?”

Corra: “Malena’s disappearance?”

Jenny: “And what do you know about that?”

Corra: “Nothing…” 

Jenny: “I think you know all sorts of things.” She’s very convincing. 

Corra: “I mean, I do run the house. It’s not like Lord Prisius knows what’s going on here…”

Jenny: “Do you really believe this story about the brigands?”

Corra: “I don’t know what to believe. I mean… brigands? But then, Lord Prisius didn’t want Malena to go anywhere?” 

Jenny: “Is it possible that he might have hidden her away so that lord Jacobius couldn’t find her?” 

Corra: “No, no, he would never do that.”

Jenny: “What about these ghosts?” 

Corra: “They’ve been around for years. Like, when the Dame Crisius got trapped in that tunnel that we closed up, there were ghost sounds all over the place.”

At this point a chandelier of antlers crashes from the ceiling and flattens Corra. 

Jenny screams. 

Madam Greeva rushes in from the kitchen: “Oh my god! Corra! Corra!”

Others join them, including Lord Prisius. He sheds a single tear. “I wish for her to be buried with the family, in the family cemetery outside the castle.” His reaction seems a little off, but he does seem genuinely sad. 

Durest asks if this sort of thing is normal, and provokes a fight with the older stablehand. The guy punches him, and Durest grapples him and tries to injure him. He wrenches his arm around and pops his shoulder out. The guy drops to the ground in agony. 

Durest leans down: “Why did the chandelier fall?” 

Stableguy: “I don’t know… must have been a loose bolt.” He passes out. 

Lord Prisius emerges and sends us to our rooms. There’s an open passage, and the bed has been pushed away from the wall, and suddenly two terrifying ghosts emerge!

It’s Chuck and Heronomo. Heronomo starts singing the praises of Chuck The Barbarian, and Durest promptly decks him into unconsciousness. We exchange notes, and Jenny – now a bard – heals Chuck. We leave Heronomo and go into the secret passage. Jenny casts Light so we can see. 

Chuck: “Oh! Magic Jenny!”

To the left, parts of the passage are caved in. To the right is the passage that Heronomo and Chuck took. We find the splattered imp and the dead lemurs, and then follow the bizarrely shaped architecture before it narrows back into a passage that eventually ends in a strong wooden door. Durest tries the door; it’s locked but not trapped. 

Jenny has no ability to pick this. 

As we’re discussing the situation, someone knocks on the door. 

Jenny: “Hello?” 

Woman’s voice: “Hello? Who’s there?”

Jenny: “Who’s there?” 

Nobody answers. 

Jenny: “Have you considered running through the door, Chuck?”

He charges, and bounces off the door. “Is because Heronomo is not here. He very supportive.”

There’s a more tentative knock. 

Durest: “Step back from the door. We’re going to knock it down.”

Woman’s voice: “It’s a very strong door.”

Durest: “Are there hinges on your side? Could you try removing the hinge pins?”

There’s a weird wrenching sound, and then the door falls over.

It’s Malenia. She’s been trapped in the walls, and making ghost noises. We decide that clearly Lord Prisius is a brigand. He needs to die. 

Malenia demonstrates her psychic powers, and Durest concludes that Lord Prisius dropped the chandelier on Corra. 

Malenia: “That monster!”

So yeah, the whole family has mental powers. Also, she’s very excited to learn that Heronomo – her cousin – is here. He’s prone to collecting some idiot, and convincing him or her to follow him around like a puppy dog. She insists that he’s harmless, though. 

We decide to head back to the bedroom and get some rest before we start the murdering. 

As we return to the bedroom, we see that one of the armoires has been moved to block the door, and the other one has been shattered and its splinters driven into all the beds. Seems very likely that Lord Prisius intended to murder us in our sleep. Heronomo, who we left in the bed, is dead.

Malenia: “Heronomo!”

So… “Let’s go save Jacobius, and kill father.”

Malenia seems ready to do this.

The armoire in front of the door seems to have only moved the once, so Lord Prisius and/or his henchmen probably don’t know that we aren’t dead. 

We move the armoire, and we are… not so quiet as we could be. 

Chuck: “How good are you at hiding, girl-lady?” 

Malenia: “Um… I don’t know? Not very.”

Durest: “All right, Dimension Door… Fuck.”

We sneak out the door. Jenny hears singing ahead of us. “I hear singing, but it’s not Heronomo because Heronomo is dead.”

Chuck: “Heronomo?” 

The building appears to be completely abandoned. 

Chuck: “That weird.”

So… based on the layout of the castle, we’re probably going to have to sneak through the courtyard and out through the gates, and it seems very likely that everybody is outside somewhere. 

Jenny checks the courtyard; it is also empty. The people singing the threnody are somewhere just outside the keep, probably mourning Corra’s death. And the cemetery is right next to the chapel. We probably can’t afford to wait; Jacobius will likely die. 

Pretty much everybody from the castle is in the graveyard, and we send Jenny to sneak over to the chapel and release Jacobius. She sneaks past the mourners and sneaks into the chapel, and sees – at the end of the chapel – a body thrashing on the ground up at the front of the chapel, with  a choking, gurgling sound; there’s a weird creature with bones sticking out of its back standing over Jacobius. 

Chuck notices that Prisius is not at the grave. 

Jenny sends a message to Durest, sending him an image of what she’s seeing. 

Durest: “Shit.” He gestures towards Chuck, but Chuck is already doing his now-barbarian best.

Chuck scoops up Malenia and runs for the entrance to the chapel. “Run quietly!” Durest hisses. 

This old lady turns as Chuck rushes by, but nobody else seems to notice and she is squinting and sort of waves the image away. He sets he down beside the entrance. She opens the door and runs in. “Father! You Monster!”

Jenny is skulking in the shadows in the corner of the temple. Durest follows, trying to move silently but failing. 

All the people at the funeral turn to look at him. He just keeps going. 

Lord Prisius, in his vaguely demonic form, turns to face us. He has a human face on this demonic body. “You have made a terrible mistake.” 

We should be paralyzed with fear, but we’re… not. He looks a little surprised. 

Chuck charges, and smashes… but misses. Milenia shakes off her father’s psychic attack and goes after his mind. 

Lord Prisius: “You may protect their minds, but I will still kill you all.” He shoots lightning at Chuck from his front paws. 

Durest charges and smacks the fucker with his monkly nunchucks. They’re just wood, so they don't do as much damage as they should; but they still hit. Chuck tries to power attack, but drops his hammer instead. We also move aside to try to flank him. 

Jenny tries to shoot him with a crossbow, but shoots Chuck instead. Durest moves into a flanking position, and tries to grapple him but fondles him instead. Prisius turns and shoves him telekinetically back to the wall. 

Chuck picks up his maul, and Prisius claws at him. Jenny throws her vial of acid at him. Durest rushes back in and grapples him. Prisius tries to break loose, but fails. 

Chuck smacks him with his giant hammer, and finally really hurts him. Durest kicks around and pins Prisius, who tries to use his telekinesis to shove us all back… and fails. Durest has shoved his head out, making it a target for Chuck; Chuck hits him hard. Jenny shoots him with a crossbow, but it bounces off him. 

Prisius tries again, and this time throws Durest off; Chuck steps right back in and smashes him with the hammer.. But misses. 

Durest comes back in and grabs him again. Chuck swings and misses,and Durest tries to pin him again but fails. He knocks us back again. Chuck moves in again and misses again, and hits him with his nunchucks, but doesn’t hit hard enough to do any damage. Prisius turns his psionic blast on Chuck, damaging him. 

Chuck attacks and misses again. And Durest swings his nunchucks and hits him and does a bit of damage. Prisius blasts Chuck, who goes down. Jenny moves over to Chuck and pours a healing potion down his throat. 

Durest grapples him, but he breaks back out of it. 

Chuck is back to consciousness, but he’s still on the ground. He attacks from there, and misses. Jenny is now closer than she likes, but she stays put. Durest tries to grapple again, and succeeds, but Prisius breaks out again. Jenny retreats, and Durest grapples again, this time getting a solid home. 

Chuck stands up. He dusts himself off. He winds up. He swings. 

He misses. 

Durest pins him, but Prisius uses that psychic bullshit to throw him off again. 

Chuck moves back in, swings, and misses. Durest moves back in and misses with his nunchucks. 

Prisius slaps down Chuck, and Jenny moves in and pours another healing potion down Chuck’s throat. Chuck attacks from the ground as Durest again attempts to grapple, catches him, but again is shrugged off. Chuck attacks again and misses. Durest tries to grapple him again and fails. 

He tries a telekinetic throw, and send Durest across the room and into a pew. Chuck attacks again from the ground, Durest charges back in with nunchucks and damages him., and Chuck drops his maul at Prisius’ feet. Durest grapples him, successfully this time. 

Chuck stands up. Durest fails to pin him, and then he breaks out of the grapple. Again. 

Chuck finally hits him with the maul. 

Prisius goes down. 

Jenny strolls over and delivers the coup de gras. 

One of Chuck’s medallions turns, and a vial pops out. 

Chuck: “What the fuck?” 

Durest: “Try touching it to the dying guy!” Necromancers, man.

Prisius’ blood flows into the vial, and then Chuck puts it back in the medallion. All of a sudden, some of his intelligence is restored. 

Malenia runs over to Jacobius; it’s very romantic. At the entrance to the chapel, all the denizens of the keep are standing there. “I think you, on behalf of our lady Prisius. Although I mourn for our lord’s loss, I give thanks that the spirit has been exposed and now we have been restored to peace.” 

Jacobius swears to step up and take over the estate like some sort of adult. They award us 300 GP each for exposing the devil that had possessed Lord Prisius. 

Apparently there are rumors of a clearing up north with a spiral pattern, that might have the next bit of blood magic that we need. 

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