The characters in this session were:
- Caulis, a homunculus warlock liberated from its master; has made a pact with certain Faerie Powers.
- Cephalus T. Murkwater, a dagonian barrister and monk, specializing in martial arts and magical labour law.
- Comet the Unlucky, waspkin ranger, a dreamer and an idealist, longing for the restoration of the Elder Trees and the liberation of his people. Loathes the Harvester’s Guild, parasites and destroyers.
- Miri, trollblood wizard, plucked from Mount Shudder and raised amongst Hex’s arcane elites. A recent graduate of Fiend’s College.
- Yam, an eccentric gnome illusionist and local graduate student at Umbral University. Yam cares little for money. Yam is curious. Yam is Yam.
XP Awarded: 500 XP
The Book of Chaos was safely stowed – Yam had entrusted it to Cosmo, the eldritch sheep, who was currently living in his chambers – but the party had unfinished business in Delirium Castle.
Miri had retrieved the Sanguineus Scripture, a tome only readable when blood was spilled on its pages; however, her employer at Fiend’s College, Samuel Dweomerkamp, noted that the volume retrieved was but one of three.
Cephalus the dagonian monk and lawyer was convinced to join the party on their sojourn, in case any legal disputes arose in their discussion with the demon.
After regrouping at the Green Star – Comet the waspkin now sporting an impressive scar from his encounter with the apex chimera – the party returned to the Outer Bailey of Delirium Castle. Sister was away on religious business, and so the party lacked the painted characters she previously comandeered from the magical Marjorie’s painting. Fortunately, Caulis was able to procure another handful, as Marjorie was painting over her previous mural; Caulis procured several balloon-duellists from the apocaylpse of pigment Marjorie indifferently inflicted upon her animate creations. These two-dimensional helpers rescued on a piece of parchment, the party approached the gate.
“Ah, you again!” the gate said. “Back for more?”
“I suppose so…” Yam said. “We’ve got some sort of deal with a demon, I guess.”
“Mmm. Best not to renege on one of thosem eh? Well, here’s your riddle.” The gate coughed, then spoke: “Two goblins sat down for a drink after a long day of happy work in the service of the glorious Emperor Soulswell. Both loyal servants elected to drink iced mead from a great pitcher between them. One goblin swiftly drank five cups of the mead. The other drank but a single cup. The first goblin fell into a drunken stupor. When he awoke, he found his dining companion dead, face blackened with poison. Yet he had drank five times the mead as his companion. All of the mead was poisoned. How did the first goblin survive while the second died?”
Several minutes of discussion proceeded until Comet produced the answer: “Ah, it was the ice that was poisoned. The goblin who drank fast didn’t consume as much because the ice didn’t melt.”
“Correct again!” the gate said, opening itself and admitting the party to the Castle. Here, Greengrin once again greeted them, and they entered the Inner Bailey – Yam pausing briefly to hand a group of terrified-looking goblin servants some pamphlets on the evils of enforced magical labour.
The party stealthily made their way through the Castle to the precarious bulk of the Armoury Tower, stern and grey, a brooding presence. The door was unlocked; several windows were evident above. Caulis sent its familiar, Eleyin, to observe, and the pseododragon heard a strange hissing sound from within. As she circled, a swarm of arrows and bolts flew out of the windows, flocking like birds, magically flying through the air in search of their prey. Eleyin dived to safety, retreating from the swarm to Caulis’ shoulder, and the arrows returned to their roost.
The party entered the tower cautiously, Comet leading the group. Within, a spiral staircase swept around the edge of a massive domed room, leading up to the level above and down to the dungeons below. The walls were dour grey. Hunched in the middle of the room was a mass of rust and gleaming metal, chains snaking from it to the walls. As the group entered, the mass shifted, uncoiling, and they realized it was a Troll, some thirteen feet tall, shackled in place. The Troll’s body was covered in weapons that had been fused into his body, as if they became wedged there and then grew to become part of him: swords, axes, broken spears, halberds and pikes, and hundreds of arrows. The party eyed this creature carefully.
“Are you… some kind of prisoner?” Miri asked.
“I am Jack-in-Irons,” the Troll intoned. “Bound by these fetters and by the magic of the Castle to guard this tower for Emperor Soulswell.”
“Uh-huh,” Yam said. “Anyway you could… not?”
The Troll grunted. “I am magically bound.”
“Ugh,” Yam said, and cast fog cloud, filling the chamber with mist. Comet, flitting above, hurled caltrops around Jack-in-Irons, and the party made a run for it, dashing as stealtily as they could through the fog to the stairs, avoiding the creature’s wild swings as it stumbled about the chamber, caltrops sticking into its flesh. The group scampered up the steps, Caulis dislodging a broken flagstone but managing to dodge out of an errant sword-swing.
Nettle. Illustration by Caulis’ player, Bronwyn McIvor.
The next level of the Armoury Tower contained beautifully painted shields of every shape, size, and style. The party quickly set to work looting the room – only to find that the shields themselves had something to say about their new owners. One, a shield of living oak, carved with an elfin face, thorns and vines growing out of the wood, eagerly greeted Caulis, introducing herself as Nettle, a shield capable of lashing out with its magical vines; a shield with numerous marks on “his” surface and a figure resembling a beautiful man tied to a stake painted upon it urged Comet to shoot it. Comet obliged, and the shield- who named himself Severein – sighed with what seemed like obscene pleasure, and the waspkin, somewhat reluctantly, picked up the masochistic arrow-catching shields. Another shield, snarling and growling its name – “Chompy!” – drooled on the floor.
These shields in tow, the party very stealthily began creeping to the next level, where the arrow-swarm nested. Dead rats and birds littered the ground. And a gnome lay on the floor, riddled with arrows and badly decomposed. He had thieves’ tools, a Crowsbeak amulet, studded leather armour, a map of the Armoury Tower with scribbled guesses about different levels, and a key with a sword-like bow. The arrows were here, roosting in quivers, their feathers rustling as they snoozed.
Comet, at first, tried to coax the arrows from their quivers like frightened birds, to reassure them he meant them no harm.
“Don’t you want to be free from this terrible place?” he asked them cajolingly. Suddenly the Castle groaned and shook; something moved down below.
“Ah! The Castle thinks you’ve insulted it!” Miri exclaimed.
The arrows, meanwhile, were shaken from their torpor by the tremor, and began flocking in the air, preparing to attack.
Yam used cantrips to conjure an illusory flame in the quivers. Instantly the arrows flew into action, swirling in a panic, fleeing into corners. Comet rushed forwards, Severin brandished, Cephalus behind him, while the rest of the party rushed to the next level. The arrows swirled and began attacking, many hitting Severin, filling the air with the shield’s sighs. A few grazed the waspkin and other party members.
Meanwhile, Cephalus was busy, snapping arrows and catching them by the handful, destroying them by the dozen. The pair quickly depleted the supply, destroying hundreds of arrows in a few minutes, sustaining only a handful of minor wounds before following the rest of the party up to the next level.
A mass of armour was strewn about this room – chainmail, helmets, plate armour, all disassembled, along with a mess of weapons, mostly longswords and pikes. As the party entered, suits of armour assembled themselves, one for each party member, grabbing weapons and menacing their counterparts; some were small, suitable for gnomes or waspkin or homunculi. The party leapt into action, Cephalus sparring with his suit, Comet and Miri attacking their own, and Yam… dancing with theirs. The suits responded in kind. While Caulis used misty step to bypass the chamber, the party fighting their suits battered their opponents into submission. Yam meanwhile, danced with sufficient elegance and energy to charm their suit – which, in delight, attached itself to the gnome. It seemed the illusionist had made a new friend.
The party hurried upwards, to the room marked “Chainbreaker” on their map. Comet used the sword-bowed key found on the gnome’s corpse to open the door. Thick dust carpeted the floor. The magical warhammer Chainbreaker restsed on a plinth in the middle of this room – a dusty old thing, more like a tool than a weapon, with a few crude symbols carved into its handle. Comet conjured an unseen servant to grab the hammer. Meanwhile, the party could hear something groaning below them, making its way up the stairs – whatever horror Comet’s insult had conjured.
The waspkin hefted the hammer, and found that it could speak. “AH! I AM CHAINBREAKER!” The hammer bellowed. “I SENSE IN YOU THE SOUL OF REVOLUTION! TOGETHER, WE WILL BRING AN END TO OPPRESSION! BREAK THE CHAINS OF ALL WHO ARE UNJUSTLY SUBJUGATED!”
“Uh… sure,” Comet said. “Sounds like an agenda I can get behind.” He turned to the party. “Wait here… I’m going to go check out whatever is coming up behind us.”
The ranger flitted out a window, hammer in hand, and peeked into the floors below. He bristled as he saw the thing coming to destroy them. Jaws smeared with vicious spikes. Eyes that spurted flame. A torso riddled with holes, spraying poisonous needles. One arm terminated in a massive hammer, the other a vicious buzz-saw. It moved on a rolling stone ball that crushes everything in its path.
Thinking quickly, Comet flew down to the first floor, re-entering the chamber with Jack-in-Irons.
“You are back!” the giant said.
“Hey, I’m here to get you out!” Comet said. “I’ve got a hammer that can break your bonds. But if I do, could you help us? There’s a big golem coming up the stairs.”
“Ah, the deathtrap golem.” Jack said.”Hurry, then, but take care! My bonds compel me to attack you until they are sundered!”
The waspkin rushed forwards, dodging under a sweep of the Troll’s blade, and, with a blow from Chainbreaker, struck his chains. Instantly the bonds binding the Troll burst, sending metal linsk everywhere. Jack-in-Irons groaned in relief, suddenly unburdened. Comet led the Troll to the golem, which turned and began assailing Jack, spattering him with poisonous needles and pounding him with its hammer and saw, flame spitting from its eyes. The Troll was true to its word, hammering the deathtrap golem with his sword. He sustained many blows, but between the pair of them – Comet hitting the automaton with arrows – they were able to reduce the killer-machine to slag. Comet returned to his companions, having bade adieu to the Troll, who was bound now for the gates and freedom.
Caulis attempted to open the door to the room marked “The Mace of Madness,” but was struck by a symbol of insanity and fled, gibbering. Miri tackled the homunculus and held it down until it regained its wits. Instead of returning to the mace-room, the party now approached the door marked “Mademoiselle Sanguinaire” on the map.
Mademoiselle Sanguinaire. Illustration by Caulis’ player, Bronwyn McIvor.
The floor here was carpeted with bones, along with the badly decayed corpse of a cambion man clutching a rusted sabre. Dancing through the air, twirling back and forth, was a slender rapier.
“Aha! New combatants!” the sabre said, a female figure coalescing out of the air – a flamboyant swashbuckler, clad in high boots, black house, and a loose tunic. “Dare any of you face the indomitable Mademoiselle Sanguinare?!?”
There seemed to be no takers, but then Comet, declaring himself on a roll, stepped forward, weapon in hand. A duel commenced, in which Comet was nearly slain several times, the ghost-possessed rapier wounding him severely, but eventually Comet triumphed, swatting the blade to the floor.
“A worthy duelist indeed!” Mademoiselle Sanguinaire declared. “My blade is yours to command, swordsman!”
Comet – proving himself more valuable by the minute – took the sword in victory.
The final chamber now awaited. Yam managed to open the door, ignoring the effects of the symbol; perhaps the gnome’s mind was too eccentric for the magical lunacy to affect them. Within the chamber, a mace whose spikes were all of different lengths was held in a stone fist rising from the floor. Mad laughter echoeed within the chamber, and upon entering the room, Yam began to perceive uncanny movement from the corner of their eye. Very delicately, Yam plucked the mace from the hand, managing to sneak it from the stone fingers just in time before they closed into a fist, swiping madly at the gnome. The Mace of Madness in hand, they prepared to make their descent.
The party lingered in the turret containing the Sword of the First Queen, which contained an ancient bronze sword, huge, engraved with glyphs in a tongue from the first age of humanity. It rested on a stone slab. Painted on one wall of the turret, between two windows, was a fearsome sphinx with the head of a woman, grinning unnervingly, her paws wet with blood. Miri grabbed the weapon, and the sphinx’s grin widened even further; Yam drew a dragon on the wall and used Marjorie’s spell to awaken it, but the dragon was terrified of the sphinx and tried to “flee,” the animated mural preparing to pounce. Caulis rescued it just in time, letting it flap to the parchment with the other refugee paintings.
The party left, but became aware that the sphinx was now following them along the walls… a disturbing development. They made their descent and exited the Armoury Tower, making hurriedly for the Library Tower. Miri spoke Beleth’s name, summoning the Reference Demon with whom they had made a contract. Instantly, the party was teleported to the demon, somewhere in the depths of the tower!
“You could have come down!” Miri declared.
“Mmm… but I didn’t,” Beleth replied. “Are you here to fulfill your end of the bargain?”
“Yes,” Comet said, hefting Chainbreaker. With the hammer in hand, he could see the magical tether binding Beleth to the Castle, a glowing metaphysical chain. A single blow broke the contract. “You’re free!” The waspkin said.
“Ah, my thanks,” Beleth replied… and promptly vanished, leaving the party abandoned in the Library.
Lost, the party passed from the chamber they were in to the next. Immediately they were assailed by a monstrous sight. Slender, massively tall, with chitinous limbs, enormous moth-wings sprouting from its shoulder-blades, the thing that loomed before them vaguely resembled a skeletal, insectoid angel – a gaunt, pallid monsters, busy stitching shut the lips of a ritually scarified man. The creature turned, one impossibly long, clawed finger to its liplers mouth…
In horror, the party fled, shutting the door behind them.
“Shit!” Miri whispered. “I think that was one of those things Greengrin warned us about last time. The Silent Ones. Must be the mature form of those dire bookworms everywhere!”
“Could we use the chalk to get out?” Cephalus asked.
“Let’s use it to get back to the other part of the Castle,” Caulis said. “We still have one end of the portal there.”
Agreeing, the party hastily scrawled a portal and stepped through, just as the Silent One’s bony fingers eased through the cracked door behind them. They closed the portal and looked around them, back in the hall of statues, all depicting Zachariah Soulswell.
Picking a chamber they had not previously entered. Here they found a large alchemical laboratory: a forest of glassware, none of it currently in use. A small collection of pre-made potions could be found on a low shelf. Three massive cauldrons dominated the room: one of brass, one of iron, and one of silver. The party investigated, finding and identifying various potions: Diminution, Flattening, Invisibility, Longevity, Reverse Gravity, Tongues, Water Breathing. They experimented with the cauldrons, discovering that the brass cauldron had something to do with life and death, and was capable of reviving dead matter. The iron cauldron appeared to have a replication effect – a blueberry placed within it duplicated itself rapidly, overflowing its lip. The silver cauldron, finally, had a metamorphic effect, and seemed to able to transform one creature into another.
This room thoroughly investigated, they passed to the next. A bullseye lantern flickered in this chamber, hung from a chain on the ceiling. Its sickly greenish light illuminated a skeleton seated on a chair of black metal. A small shelf to one side contained four spare candles, alongside a tinderbox. The walls of this chamber weare fashioned from obsidian, or a substance which resembles it.
Cephalus grabbed the lamp, and the light shifted. Instantly, the skeleton moved, muscle and organs rapidly growing, flesh appearing on its bones. Soon a tall, thin humanoid of indeterminate gender stood before them; they possessed a narrow skull, skin of a soft mauve colour intricately patterned with small, crabbed sigils in silver ink, and eyes with black sclera and jale irises. The lantern, it seemed, had an entropic effect – its light decomposed anything it touched, but the effect reversed when the light was removed.
The figure – after spells were used to translate its speech – introduced itself:
“I am Xeb Wraeth Jennai, of the Dusk People, of the city of New Ys; a magus of no little skill, though sadly deprived of my apparatus or familiars.”
The party introduced themselves in turn, and learned that Xeb had been imprisoned by Soulswell long ago. They were one of the Dusk People, who Xeb claimed to be descended of the Twilight Folk who dwelt on the western shores of the Final Continent. “Doubtless some of you are my distant ancestors,” Xeb said. “Though I could not trace the twisted braids of evolution that might connect out bloodlines. I am from New Ys, the greatest of the Final Cities that will precede the Everlasting Midnight. I am a visitor from what you perceive as this world’ far future, or rather, one version of that future, many millions of years hence, by your reckoning. I elected to flee here during the Temporal Exodus. My people, you see, have retired throughout time, escaping the doom of Everlasting Midnight, when the sun itself is extinguished. We gathered in the Plaza of Manifold Shadows and flung ourselves to the far reaches of history, in a diaspora across innumerable centuries. To my knowledge I am the only one of my fellow Time Travellers to seek this rude millennium, for most preferred more familiar epochs – the perfumed reign of the Pink Emperor, or the Time of Many Heads, or the age of the Hearth Culture. I was seeking company among those conversant in the arcane arts, and journeyed to this accursed city in hopes of scholarly conversation. When Zachariah learned of my presence, he had me arrested and, using their Lantern of Entropy, imprisoned me in skeletal form. A fine jest, which I shall repay in kind once I have recovered those materials the upstart took from me.”
Fascinated by this strange being, the party prepared to leave Delirum Castle once again – though they lacked convenient means of escape. Climbing a flight of stairs they discovered a solid wall of water. Several eroded, barnacled statues seemed to flee a huge knight clad entirely in plate armour that had completely fused by rust. The knight was unmoving. In his gauntleted hands he bore a massive sword. This Cephalus – capable of breathing water – procured from his grasp, before returning to the party. The party made an about-face and continued looking for a way out. This time they found one: a hidden corridor, used by several duster-goblins as a servant’s exit. This led them into the Outer Bailey, and they realized they had been within the Imperial Keep. From here it was a brief sojourn to the Gates, and out once more into the city, their packs burdened with loot from another successful delve into Delirium Castle’s mysterious depths.