The Richfest Family reunion of the Party of the Shattered Skull and Party of the Shackled Skull moves from year to year, but this year found itself at Castle Stormguard. The large families of the Arkanadas, Halls, Ellewyrs and others largely glutted the main tower as the elders bantered and guffawed about adventures past, while the younger members of the family entertained themselves as best as they were able with their sometime companions known since birth.
At this party, there were a few new faces, and several old ones: Marin Arkanada, Daria Hall, Maslyn Ellewyr, Marc Ellewyr, Quaran Diamondeye and Lana Marsen. Marc seemed to carry his namesake’s boldness, while Maslyn seemed particularly shy, but overall a fine time was being had.
The usual feasting and gift-giving had been done, and the heroes of old were largely in their cups when a blast rang out against the side of Gavain’s tower. The heroes sobered quickly, leaping to the defense of the castle, while Grace moved to defend those grandchildren who happened to be present. Leading them down into a lower section of the tower, a lower door burst open and each of the grandchildren leaped into the fray, each proving themselves capable. Maslyn surprised some as she blasted a bolt of energy from her hands, catching an assailant in the chest and killing him instantly.
Soon, the attack was over, but it had left its mark. A hole was ripped in the side of Gavain’s tower, and piles of corpses of both humans and drow elves, along with their spidery mounts, lay scattered over the grounds of the keep. Both Shackled and Shattered Skull heroes argued about the possible nature of the enemy and the threat, but this conversation was eventually taken outside of the presence of the grandchildren.
After sometime behind a closed and warded door, the grandchildren were approached by Marcus Arkanada who clearly was hiding something behind is wide grin.
He advised that the parents and grandparents were moving to investigate this attack, and that the party would be kept safe in one of the lesser known strongholds of the Shattered Skull. Despite some complaints, the Children of the Shackled Skull gathered their things and made ready to leave. Gavain prepared his Mirror of Mental Prowess and the image of Hommlet appeared through it. Marin Arkanada
eagerly leapt through, right into the busy center of town wrapping up its Richfest celebrations.
The rest of the party ushered out, and Thias Damask followed to quiet any concerns about the strange appearance of the party. Seeing that things were settled, the party made their way to the tavern.
The Inn of the Welcome Wench appears to have been sold, but the story of its wandering Ostler Gundigoot and the Magic Sword Ehrmengardt seems to have left its mark; The faded sign of the wench lay behind a wooden sword on a chain swinging gently in the wind. The tavern now is called the Swinging Sword by all but a few locals.
Kaylessa Irkell, the proprietress, seems to run the inn with her several daughters, one of which bears a striking resemblance to Marcus Arkanada. She was eager to have Marin Arkanada’s music to replace that of a drunken bard who had begun to dominate the room, and the party earned free rooms for the night (between that performance and the name dropping of Marcus Arkanada).
While there, the party noticed a few things, including a motley collection of individuals ranging from high society nobles to a junk dealer, all keeping council. The image appeared strange, but so did the existence of class distinctions in a town of this size.
A few party members noticed a beaten caravan guard who reported being robbed. Quaran Diamondeye healed his wounds, earning sincere gratitude and a report of where the wagon was overtaken.
The next morning, the party went to see Jarroo, the old druid that is supposed to act as the party’s babysitter. Lana Marsen remembered spending several summers here as a child, though she seldom left the grove. The party detected an angry large brown bear, but Lana ran to embrace it as a childhood friend (Snuggles to her, but Ursala to the rest of you). Jarroo was a bit of a curmudgeon, but also expressed that he was upset because the she-bear’s cub, Timber, was missing.
The party traveled south about two hours before coming to the area where the wagon was raided. Moving towards an old smuggler’s cave Jaroo reported, Lana was the first to detect voices. Cresting a small rise, she spotted four bandits with the kidnapped bear in a cage, and the caravan guard’s stolen merchandise.
The party attacked and quickly vanquished the bandits, taking them alive. A cleverly placed charm by Marin left one bandit spilling the beans to what he believed was his former lady-love Molly. Meanwhile, Lana used some remembered druidcraft to calm the cub and get it to follow.
The Bandit reported stone mask wearing priests that were giving orders near the quarry every new moon, and were providing the bandits a schedule for their heists. That meeting date is several days away.
Bringing the bandits into town, attracted great attention, and Constable Harburk took the fellows and chained them in his small shop. Seeing that you were the helpful sort, he arranged a meeting between yourselves, himself, and Kaylessa Irkell. Kaylessa and the constable ask the party intigate reports of strange happenings at Lance Rock, near where they investigated previously. Reports say there are signs posted about plague from someone called the “Lord of Lance Rock”. They offered a reward of 50 gp.
The party made their way out and passed several signs warning of plague. Finding a body, the party recoiled as it leapt up suddenly the attack them. Seeing they were dealing with undead, the party advanced more carefully, but was set upon from a surprise blind to drop boxes of rocks.
Venturing deeper into the series of caves, a necromantic lab appeared to have been set up. As the party was peppered with arrows, a necromancer fled, calling out challenges. Maslyn Ellewyr marched before the army absorbing their blows with some stage magic, but suffered badly even with the protectoin. Potions were applied to Maslyn and she used the resurgence to cast a spell of devastation rocked the skeletal figures. Still several fought on, and one cut down Maslyn but was quickly erased by the sharp blades of Daria Hall and the blasts of Quaran Diamondeye.
In the wizard’s chamber, a black orb of a strange eye appeared for a moment, but Maslyn Ellewyr immediately took the orb from its position floating over the stand of human hands that held it. While he attempted to blast the party from his place of hiding, the party unleashed their remaining power against him and he was brought unconscious by a carefully executed choke-slam, courtsey of Daria Hall.
Exiting the foul cave, Marin Arkanada turned to look back at the locale of the party’s first true adventure, and saw several men wearing stone masks looking down without emotion.