Bright and early, leave for the Dead Forest and Bone Hill. We leave mounts behind, possibility of undead is too likely.
Perk shows up with Pelo as well!! And, Kelnar is toting one of the acolytes who is also the cobbler in town Tello, half elf.
Geoffrey and Ean join us too.
2 possible routes:
Straight east through the heart of the Dead Forest, out the other side to the road then across it to Bone Hill.
Or, follow the road around, which runs right past the far side of the forest tween it and Bone Hill and go from there.
We ask Yalta, any reason to really do the forest before the tower? Since we want to save Wolk. Or could he be at either place?
He says we can skip the forest for now, since we have a friend's life to worry about, he should be the ruin on the hill.
Off we go, via the road.
Wary of of orc and other dangers, we keep Perk and Pelo scouting our right flank, and Martin and Volcifar to our left.
Its an uneventful trip to Bone Hill. We see the tower first as we stop partway up the hill to await dark
We move forward, Ogrumat scouting the grounds first: The tower is 3 levels with 10×12 hole at ground level; tower on NW corner with gaping hole in the wall. Another spot has a battering ram at a broken spot; another spot with a siege tower at another hole; otherwise walls seem quite sturdy. There was a siege here, a few siege engines concentrating on a few particular spots and broke through. A couple elf skeletons, 6 at the battering ram, even a hill giant.
Meanwhile our rangers scout for tracks, and finds a plenty of evidence of booted and bipedal lupine feet.
She leads us to a hole in the west wall that leads directly into the castle itself.
Kaelen sends Kelnor leading his acolyte, Beorn, Ean and Geoffry, Volcifar and Christofer.
She leads, into the tower to get onto the walls, Ogrumat, Loriel, Pelo and Perk, Yalta, Martin and Clyde.
As we close in, we see sentries on the wall. Christofer stops his group "wait for Kaelen, she's going to see them and probably take them out.
The sentries are bugbears.
The moon has come up, its a blood moon!
The tower is a dusty mess but rubble is mostly cleared. We take the stairs up to the sentry walkways. We see them both by the moonlight.
We use Clyde to lure one of the sentries to us, and it starts making its way to us. He gives a bark to the other sentry and it starts coming from the other wall connecting here.
The first enters, and Martin's shot and Ogrumat's sneak attack kill it.
As the next enters, Kaelen and Ogrumat cut it down.
We call everyone in, and check for more but those were the only 2 sentries.
Christofer sees them lurking above and tells Krellar to move in. Kaelen's group goes back down and into the courtyard, entering the castle via the main entrance.
Krellar is entering the old throne room; frescoes of men and elfs fighting vs bugbears but now much defaced. Makeshift toys are spread thoroughout the room, from present. Bugbear kids?
Volcifar skulks in first. Doors lead out left and right, room oft used but empty.
He recommends nabbing kids as bargaining tools.
We go right to the right door, hear whistling on the other side. Someone just hanging around. Bugbears can't whistle.
More skeletons outside in the courtyard, seem like a force of humand and elfs attacked one of humans with at least 1 giant. Also a few bugbear remains in the courtyard and a huge burnt circle of ground. Magic.
Walls and floor inside the entire castle are solid; there is a large wooden bar here to close off the doors coming in, but they seem to be expecting not trouble. We hear a couple more bugbears before we even enter.
Cracking one door open slowly, Ogrumat and Loriel see them, but it creeks. The 2 guards draw their weapons. Loriel puts one to sleep, we rush in, Ogrumat telling it to surrender in goblinoid.
He drops his weapon and arms up.
He says Telvar the wizard is in charge here, fancies himself an archmage. Bugbears already lived here, remnants of the originals here. He used his magic to do horrible things to their champions.
Kaelen gives him the option of helping, we are here for a friend. He recogizes him as Telvar's prisoner. He refuses to take us to the area, but tells us how to get there: 2nd floor, up the stairs. Down another stairway is a basement then a dungeon.
He says he also has an alliance with a band of gnolls and their ogre chief that live in the Dead Woods.
They would prefer not to be under Telvar's thumb.
We tell him his friend is only asleep. He says most dead you see around can rise on Telvar's command. There is also a ghoul, a shadowy horror below, and maybe a few others.
They don't venture to the dungeon if they don't have to. There's a horrible living pool, liquidy, that one of the Masters put there, that moves about. A stone guardian, a magical mirror of some sort. The local Master, lesser, many of his goodies he gave to the lord here are still down there.
Kaelen says we'll leave them in peace if he guides us through his tribe. We will steal nothing from them either.
"Take us to the stairs."
He leads us through another room with a bugbear, tells him we are going to take care of Telvar.
Volcifar says the door is unlocked. He peeks inside, 6 chairs about and a mean looking dude looking up at a painting on the wall, whistling, portrait of the old Master. Volcifar skulks toward the man and pulls out a grisly looking dagger, recurved almost like a sickle, with barbs on the blunt side.
Volcifar stabs the man, yanking it out pulling a string of guts. While he's down, he start sawing his head off!
Christofer "The gods!"
Beorn "What are you doing?
Christofer tires to calm him down.
Volcifar "And thus falls Telvar."
He beheads him completely.
Chris "Why ware you cutting his head off?"
"Personal business, I told you not to ask about that please."
Beorn "You know that's Telvar?"
He reaches into his cloak pulling out a piece of parchment which he unrolls, comparing a sketch portrait to the body "Yes., that's him."
Christofer 'Well, let's go find Kaelen."
Just as he is about to open the door, Kaelen's guide opens it.
We all meet up. It's quite the surprise that Telvar is finished.
Kaelen "Is that really him?" to the bugbear guide.
He checks the hands "No, it wasn't. He's not wearing his ring. He always wears his ring."
Volcifar shows him the head. It's now 10 years desicated, a failsafe of some sort, much to Volcifar's chagrin.
He throws the head into the wall in anger.
Bugbear "Chances you are, Telvar knows your're here now."
Kaelen "All right, let's go find Wolk."
Upward we go into an area just offcenter of the level, the center of the halls.
Volcifar picks his; Kaelen does to but it is also Arcane locked. Yalto dispels it after Krellar's failed attempt.
We open simultaneously, bedroom and workshop.
Other than a lab and trapdoor upstairs, nothing and no one.
Some of the potions in the lab have a faint magic to them. We take the potions. Volcifar also finds one of Telvar's spellbooks.
Kaelen finds a secret stash behind a painting withj:
7 × 20gp gems
3 × 50gp gems
The guard from teh lookout room comes out, but our bug guide calms him down, then checks on teh kids. There's a bit of a ruckus we can hear downstairs now. The other guards we met are explaining to the others what's going on.
Kaelen heads downstairs with Ogrumat and Clyde, with Ean and Geoffrey.
One of the shamans immediately says we should appease the wizard and kill us now. Our guide tries to be the diplomat. He is actually an old subchief prior to Telvar's takeover.
There are now 50 skeletons outside trying to get in, plus a few zombies, about to use the battering ram. Telvar certainly knows we are here.
We hear a bugbear howl from behind. Gnolls are coming up the hillside. They are not friendly at all, but are still about a mile away.
Kaelen has Ogrumat call everyone down to fight the gnolls.
He says the undead were here before Telvar came, he controls them but his death will not eliminate them.
Kaelen tells him to use the fact that she brought Clyde and Ogrumat down with her (purposefully) to show them that she is friendly to races others are not.
SHe rushes upstairs calling for any of the priests with power vs undead. Yalta steps forward, and she sends him to the front door.
Meanwhile, the storage rooms brought noting of import.
Once Kaelen is back up, we take the trapdoor.
Kaelen picks a high quality lock, then keep it for her own use DC 30.
The hatch is a pulldown stairway. She hears chanting.
A bloodroom ceremony!? Let's go!?
We are coming up against one wall. There is a large window at the center of the other 3 walls. A ladder goes to the roof where the chanting is coming from. A crude telescope sits in the middle, with drawings of the night sky by month.
Kaelen/Volcifar, Ogrumat/Martin and Pelo/Perk go out the windows in pairs and climb up.
Krellar leads the rest up the ladder. A wooden altar is right in front of where we appear, Telvar standing at its side to the ladder's right, a cultists on the other side. Wolk is tied to the altar. To Telvar's rear are 2 ghouls. Behind the other cultist are 2 skeletons. Behind the ladder entrance are 6 more skeletons.
Another man is tied and on his knees next to the cultist; a second next to Telvar.
Kaelen and Volcifar come up next to the tied up ones, closest to Telvar and the cultist.
Our 2 elves come up behind the ghouls, Ogrumat/Martin behind the skeletons.
We wait for Krellar, who gave us a minute to get into position, to come up the ladder and we strike. Krellar destroys a skeleton immediately.
Volcifar on Telvar, Kaelen jump stunts the cultist, Krellar and Christofer engage the rear skeleton rank, elfs fire at the ghouls, Ogrumat and Ean the rear skeletons too.
Geoffrey and Martin arrive next, taking on skeletons to keep them off the central fight.
Kaelen kills the cultist.
Volcifar continues on Telvar, who then steps back from him and casts at him a bolt of energy in the shape of a fist knocking Volcifar 10' back and off the edge, but he grabs the ledge dropping his killer dagger.
The elves drop a ghoul and Ogrumat kills Martin's skeleton.
The ghouls and the skeletons finally counterattack.
Perk's ghoul moves, clawing him and the hanging Volcifar's hand! He lets go with that hand but still hanging on.
The staggered cultist goes for a stab at Wolk but for min damage then drops.
Geoffrey attacks Telvar from behind.
Geoffrey sends his skeleton off the edge.
Volcifar climbs up, Ghoul's AoO missing; he misses the ghoul.
Kaelen tumbles over Wolk on the altar, and stabs Telvur, flanking with Martin now, 20 DEAD!