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Session 21

The party pauses to regain their breath after they finish off the aberrations. Sulyex spend an hour reading and recovering while Audir and Halbard harvest some teeth and claws from the two fallen creatures. Quaesitor places a leech - collected from the swamp - on one of the bodies to consume its blood, then goes with Coratana and Dorrin to finish investigating the rest of the first floor of the Keep.

They go into the trophy room and review the monstrous heads taxidermied and mounted on the walls and the multitude of blades prominently displayed. Quaesitor identifies an enchantment on the blades to animate them, and before the enchantment can be triggered, Coratana attempts to dispel it. It takes two attempts, taxing Coratana’s magic capability, but ultimately the enchantment fades. The three gather the previously-magical blades and Pike them into the middle of the floor.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group begins to get moving, discovering the aberrations’ nest, and beyond it, a heavy door. They find a stairway leading down, with faint wisps of spiderweb suck to the walls, thickening closer to the bottom of the stairs. They also find a doorway into the central room, closer to the dais. They can now see across the room to the alcove, where a door hangs off its hinges. Audir and Sulyex investigate and find a set of armor in pristine condition. When Sulyex touches it to investigate it, he is bitten by the armor as it comes to life: it was a mimic, taking the shape of a suit of armor!

The party quickly dispatches the mimic and-seeing one more skeleton-shadowed statue, collects the final wooden token from its outstretched hands. The party finds a square frame, made of the same wood as the tokens, insert into a subtle doorframe in the wall behind the dais. Halbard takes the lead in arranging all seven wooden tokens to fit into the frame, succeeding fairly quickly and opening the entrance to a small room.

Within the room is a bookcase, paper, books, ink, and other knickknacks resting on the shelves, and a table with a stool. Upon the table are a few pieces of paper and for spell scrolls. Audir rushes in and investigated the table, but is unable to understand any of the scrolls, paint them to Quaesitor. He calls upon his sagely background and manages to identify the scrolls’ purposes, if not the exact spell contained within. All four spells are necromantic in origin: two are designed to reunite a recently decreased should with its body and return a creature to life, and two are used to animate corpses in a semblance of life. (Further examination reveals the scrolls to be Revivify, Raise Dead, and two scrolls of Animate Dead.)

Sulyex burns the two Animate Dead scrolls, and Quaesitor, after a brief attempt to be stealthy, pockets the other two. Audir, bored with the happenings in the small room, goes off to investigate the door beyond the aberrations’ lair. The heavy door is closed and locked, and the small halfling attempts to use her magic to force it open. With the help of the group, the door eventually opens into a ramshackle, overgrown garden, hedged in by thorny walls… Another section of the labyrinth Audir had found earlier. The group leaves it alone for now and heads further into the Keep. After a brief debate, they decide to search upstairs to find the shrine they need to restore.

They find a stairway leading to the second floor just off of the trophy room, but the walls and ceiling are lined with necrotic pustules that release a spray of ichor when disturbed. Audir rushes forward, attempting to make it to the top, and discovers some of the steps also trigger this damaging spray. She ignores the damage she is taking and races toward the top, closely followed by an alarmed Sulyex. She sets off three traps, each more damaging than the last (and catching Sulyex in the spray, too). The third trap she sets of releases a massive burst of pus-like ichor that overwhelms Audir’s body. Overcome by the intense necrotic damage, her lifeless body falls limply to the ground.

Sulyex scoops her up and rushes her back downstairs. Quaesitor pulls out the Revivify scroll and hands or to Sulyex, the only party member capable of casting it. With a quick prayer to Bahamut and a word of inspiration from Quaesitor, Sulyex uses the scroll to call Audir's soul back from the Raven Queen's embrace. A brief moment passes, but then Audir gaps herself back to life, awakening cradled in Sulyex’ arms, and feeling more like herself than she has since arriving on the island.

The party carefully makes their way upstairs - avoiding the steps that trigger that awful spray of necrotic ichor and emerges into a large room with a mirrored ceiling. There is another bowl with a plaque that demands homage for the matter; Coratana and Sulyex birth bleed into it until they hear a faint click and see a very slight settling of the floor. As they examine the room, Coratana catches a flicker of movement reflected in the ceiling mirror. A spectral figure of a woman, throat turn open, hovers five feet or so in front of Coratana. Her form is entirely invisible with the naked eye, only seen in the mirror’s reflection. Sulyex shoots off a blast of sacred flame before realizing she is acting without aggression… In fact, she seems to cower away from them, but trying to communicate. She goes the group around the traps inset into the floor, leading them to the far corner of the room where they take a short rest.

During this period, Sulyex speaks with the ghost, questioning her about the keep and the Master. She responds in gestures, her throat having been torn out. She directs them outside, into the labyrinth, to find the shrine.

They follow her directions, heading into the maze and navigating it fairly easily with Kaira and Coratana's help, though the cold intensifies. Very near the end, they are stopped in their tracks as Coratana sees a figure. He approaches and finds a pale form with gaping holes where the eyes should be and a grotesquely extended maw. The banshee lets out a mournful wail, stunning some of the group, and combat commences.

It is a difficult - even deadly - encounter for the already-tired group. Kaira is knocked unconscious almost immediately, and Sulyex follows not long after. Eventually, the party manages to injure the banshee enough that she chooses to file rather than continue to defend her lair.

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