The Keep of the Mourning Lady210911
Tsorvano’s caravan, with a small band of new adventurers acting as guards, arrived in Novaci late in the evening. After getting the caravan settled for the night, the five newly acquainted strangers all went their separate ways.
Malachai spent the evening roaming the lands around the small mountain village. He came across a curious owl that seemed to take an interest in him. The owl, which he named Pearl, seemed quite smart and almost seemed to understand when Malachai spoke to him. The Half-Faun was happy to see the owl following him around on his meanderings. He also came across a small shrine to Zirchev, one of the Traladaran Patrons known as the Huntsman and protector of the wild lands and its creatures. It was about a half mile from the village, in a very secluded grove of aspens, but seemed well tended, though he could not find whoever it was that did so.
Panya spent the evening up at St. Yuric’s monastery on the heights above Novaci. She was welcomed warmly and allowed to stay. The Abbot was not upset that she had yet to find the missing mace and told her that if she did, they would appreciate its return, but if she did not, they still appreciated her looking for it.
Lucky decided to take the evening off from entertaining and just check out the quaint village. He wandered around and spoke to several people, learning a bit about the place, namely that it was a mining and timber village and that the Lord, Old Ivan Stelenov, was over 100 years old without an heir and hated most things. The Grey Company, a locally renown mercenary company was also employed by the Lord to supplement the Duke’s Men that patrolled from Castellan Keep to the north.
Talyn spent the evening in quiet contemplation going over all the new things he had learned about the local Traladaran religion, specifically about Halav, Petra, and Zirchev. He already knew much about the Church of Karameikos, as that was not much different from the Church of Thyatis, which revered many of the same Patron Immortals, including Vanya, whom he was very familiar with.
Dak, the mage from the southern islands, was still nursing a hangover from the night before in Bergoi, and went to bed early.
By noon the next day, the caravan was ready to set out on the final leg of its journey to Castellan Keep. Panya had rejoined the group from the monastery, and everything was good to go when the caravan was approached by a well dressed and important looking Hin. He introduced himself as Gren Ilenovich, the town’s constable and justice of the peace. He informs Tsorvano, who in turn informs everyone else, that the road to Castellan Keep is currently impassable due to a serious landslide and washout. He estimates it is going to take weeks of work to repair the road and at least several days to blaze a detour around the area.
He tells of “The Old Road” which heads north west out of Novaci and loops around some nearby rises before rejoining the road to the Keep in the north. He says that it will add several hours to the trip, but should still get the caravan to its destination, albeit a bit later than expected. Happy to have an alternative route, Tsorvano confers with his security detail and everyone agrees that is a good option.
|The "Old Road"|
The “Old Road” is definitely not as well maintained as the Keep Road but the caravan is able to make its way along it just fine, if not a bit slower than their usual pace. Ahead, in the distance, the outline of a ruined structure is spotted from time to time. Lucky learns from one of the locals that had joined the caravan that the structure is an old, ruined keep that is rumored to belong to the original rulers of the area, long before Old Lord Stelenov’s family came to power. After a few hours of climbing the “Old Road,” a strange, low keening can be heard. The caravan continues a bit farther and the sound turns into a sad, dirge-like wail. The caravan comes to a halt as the animals, drivers, and some newly added followers become frightened. The wail sinks into Panya’s bones, giving her a shiver as well. Most all of those that were following the caravan, a group traveling from Novaci to the Keep, decide they are going to walk back to town instead of continuing onward.
The road appears to head up and pass by the old, ruined keep, and that also appears to be the source of the wailing. It is decided to go check out the keep and attempt to put a stop to the frightening sound. Tsorvano says it is best that he and the rest of the caravan wait on the road. After a bit more climbing, the group makes it to the keep, a crumbling and considerably overgrown thing that once may have been a nice little structure. The wailing sound is much louder now and clearly coming from the keep.
The tower itself, about 100 feet across, looks to have been at least 3 storeys tall, though its upper reaches are all crumbling and no sign of a roof can be seen. The rest of the compound appears to be made of several smaller out-buildings surrounded by a wall, also crumbling with many openings.
After a cursory bit of scouting around the outside of the structure, the group enters through a wide opening in the eastern wall, between two of the other structures. It appears that this may have once been the main gate entry to the small keep. Slowly and carefully the group begins to enter the overgrown and debris-filled courtyard, but Malachai stops the group when he hears a sound from the building to his right. Calling on his nature magic, he attempts to sense life beyond the crumbling stone wall. His spell tells him there are no living things in that area. “Undead,” he warns his companions.
Talyn continues on, across the courtyard to what appears to be the main entrance to the tower. The wooden door appears to be stuck, but with some effort, it is forced open. Entering the aged structure reveals a room with a stone spiral staircase circling the central pillar of the chamber. Talyn immediately goes for the stairs and finds that the floorboards at the base are rotted out. His feet crash through the weakened boards but he is able to fling himself to the side and avoids falling into the darkness below.
Malachai moves around the outside edge of the room and spies a door leading further into the tower. He opens the door to find a kitchen area full of strange, brown spiderwebs. The webs appear to rust metal objects. Another door leads out of the kitchen and it is discovered that it opens back out onto the courtyard. A trapdoor can be seen further over in the floor of the kitchen.
Using an old broom and some scrounged sticks, the cobwebs are safely removed and the trapdoor is lifted, revealing a narrow and steep stone stairway leading into the earth. The group follows the bold and glowing Talyn down the steps, though Dak lights a torch to give a little more illumination.
At the bottom of the steps, the group finds itself in a small cramped area with a dirt floor and cobbled stone walls. Three locked doors lead from this area, to the right, the left and straight ahead. Talyn chooses the door on the right. After some effort, the door is forced open and the party enters what appears to be an ancient storeroom. As the shadows from Talyn and the torch play along the walls, two shadows coalesce and attack the group.
A desperate battle rages but in the end, the shadows are vanquished by steel, spell, and flame. A quick search of the room reveals a moldy bag of coins stuffed behind a loose cobblestone at the base of the wall. Counting themselves lucky to have survived the battle with the incorporeal undead, the group decides to head back to the caravan to relay what they’ve found and regroup, possibly returning to Novaci to seek out some advice or more appropriate weapons for dealing with this type of threat.
As everyone comes up through the trapdoor back into the kitchen, Talyn notices something shiny in the far corner of the room poking out from under some cloth wrapping. He retrieves the item, which appears to be a finely wrought, golden mace. Immediately, Panya seems interested in the mace, calling it the Mace of St. Yuric. She says she has been seeking its location for some days after a thief stole it from the Monastery. Lucky nods, knowing full well the stories of St. Yuric, a Traladraran hero of old that is known for fighting off the Frost Giants and protecting his people. Panya claims the mace and carries it out of the tower with her, intent on returning it to its rightful place.
|St. Yuric's Mace|
The group heads out the near kitchen door and makes their way back across the courtyard, past a tall and wispy willow tree. Malachai detours when he sees a body lying against the base of the wall just past the tree. As he approaches, he starts to hear dark whispers implicating Talyn in dark conspiracies. Just then, one of the long, sinuous branches of the tree lashes out and strikes at him. As it attacks, everyone sees that the willow tree is just an illusion and a smaller, darker tree composed of bones of the fallen is what is truly attacking, an undead tree monstrosity.
The tree presses its attack, both physical and mental as it tries to pit the companions against each other through its dark whispers. Panya rushes in and attempts to climb the tree, though she is stopped and mentally stunned in the process. Eventually, the dead tree is felled and is a threat no more. The body beyond is pulled a safe distance away and examined. He has only been dead for a few days at most and clearly was bludgeoned to death by the tree. It appears to be the body of a rogue or adventurer based on his attire and gear. Panya believes that he must be the one that stole the mace from the Monastery. Talyn searches the rest of the area for more treasure but finds only broken bones.
At that point the group begins debating what to do with the body, Panya wants to bury it, Malachai believes it should be left to become one with the earth again. The rest of the group divides themselves with wanting to bury the man and wanting to move on and leave him there. The discussion is interrupted by a flapping and hissing sound from above. Looking up, a huge vulture-like bird can be seen perched on the highest levels of the tower.
Malachai uses his nature magic to speak to the bird. The bird, he finds out, wants to eat the body and has been watching it for a couple of days. He thanks Malachai for having it moved out into the open. It flaps down and lands nearby on the top of one of the out-buildings, continuing to hiss as the others still debate the corpse's fate. Talyn worries that burying it here will cause it to rise as an undead creature that will need to be dealt with later.
The vulture also divulges information that the Keep is haunted by the “Mourning Lady” and she lives on the 2nd floor of the tower. For this information, Malachai promises the vulture he can have the body and works his hardest to convince Panya and Lucky of such a course of action. Finally he prevails by promising to bury the thief’s bones after the vulture has picked him over. Having settled that argument, the group heads back to the caravan waiting on the “Old Road.”
Tsorvano is happy to turn the caravan around and head back to Novaci, not willing to risk his people and shipment trying to pass a haunted keep. He supports the plan for the group to return the next day, prepared to deal with the “Mourning Lady.”
Once back in Novaci, some of the group head to Old Lord Ivan’s tower to seek out Father Berabellus, the local Traladaran clergyman. After dealing with some Gray Company mercenaries guarding the Lord’s tower, Talyn and Malachai are admitted inside, sans weapons. They speak to the priest and learn much of the history of the abandoned tower. He thanks them for looking into the unquiet dead there and pledges to find some tools to help in their quest if they return in the morning.
Outside, Panya and Lucky converse with some of the mercenaries, which all seem to be a pleasant sort. They appreciate Lucky’s playing and when Talyn and Malachai come out, Talyn attempts to enlist some of their number as extra muscle for taking on the “Mourning Lady” the following day. Another debate quickly flares up among the companions regarding the hiring, and more importantly, paying the mercenaries. Finally, Lucky agrees to broker a deal but Talyn is left footing the bill for it, though Panya agrees to help him defray the cost.
The question of returning the holy mace comes up, but it is decided to hold on to the mace for the time being as it would be a good tool to use in fighting whatever unholy creatures may inhabit the rest of the tower and its environs. So the group makes a plan, with mercenaries Cass and Lev in tow, to meet again with Father Berabellus first thing, then head back to the haunted keep to deal with whatever undead threats still lie there. With that, everyone turns in for the evening.
|Talyn finds some weakened floorboards|
|A Dark and Deadly Tree|
|The Tower Grounds|
Session Notes2nd session of our brand new campaign. Still playing remotely, but hopefully soon we'll make it back to the table! This session went smoothly, shared lots of images, used lots of helpful macros on Roll20. I believe all had a good time. We were short one player, sadly, hopefully we'll have the full crew back for session 3!
Cast of Characters:Malachai, Faetouched, Wilderness Defender - played by JeCorey H
Talyn Dilectus Vanyilam, teenage Celestial warrior on the run - played by Don K
Panya Masika, a bronze skinned Nithian monke stranded out of time - played by Carol C
Vlajic Savago, the Lucky Savage, a Traladaran bard - played by Dan E