Characters: Pierre, Remo, Ginger, Ailon, Simon, Vicar Horace, Tol, Jortan, Candara
Luna awakes but is in a very weak state. She does not remember much about what happened to her while she was in the castle. She does remember being forced to beat on the anvil while K'tala cast some spell. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the temple.
She says that she could fashion weapons like Meth used if she has mithril and a fire dog.
The party discusses where they can find a fire dog and Luna informs them that she saw one in the castle. The other place would be "Fire Dog Island", but that would take way too long to get to.
B'jan also awakes and informs the them that some time after the party left, Kez had had another spell. B'jan wrote down what Kez said and thought the party might need this information. He and Kez set out to catch up with the party but were captured as they tried to cross the border. Luckily, the text of Kez's prophecy is still inside his shoe where he had hid it.
Kez's prophecy was the following:
During the day, Simon reports back to Pablo to see if anybody else is going to the temple only to be asked to do a special mission. Pablo needs to send an urgent note to K'tala and feels that he can trust Simon to do the job. The note is to be taken to K'tala's castle and delivered in person. Simon agrees to gather up some men and head out as soon as he can.
Simon leaves Pablo's office and heads back to the party who are meeting at the deserted copper mine outside town. They decide to open the envelope from Pablo and read the following:
The consensus is that Pablo is likely a honest business man just serving those that pay the guard fee for law and order. It is likely that Pablo does not know that K'tala is up to.
The party decides to get the fire dogs from K'tala. They decide to take Pablo's note to K'tala and use that mission as an excuse to get inside the castle. Some of the party will go along invisible and hope to break away from the others once inside the castle. These invisible folks will seek out the fire dogs and take them out via the tunnel to the cave. To do this, Pierre and Candara will have to learn a few more spells. The visit Candara's mentor and purchase a scroll with Invisibility on it. Both Pierre and Candara are able to learn the spell but Candara fails to understand the details of the Sleep spell that Pierre tries to teach her.
Pierre reveals to the party that dwarves never give you their true names since they feel that that would give you power over them. He states that "Kez" is simply "dwarf" in Dwarvish. It is not likely that Kez is trying to hide anything, just that as the only dwarf around, Kez would be a fine public name for him to use.
With their spells ready and plans made, they begin their journey to K'tala's castle. The day goes without incident but they discover another band of Dwarves camping in the mountains shortly before dark. The learn these dwarves are heading to Jasper due to Jed's call. The have not been near K'tala's castle so they can give not information about what is going on there. After sharing dinner, the two parties split.
The next day the party reaches the cave that leads to the tunnel into K'tala's castle. They leave some of the horses there and Horace, Pierre, and Tol become invisible and climb onto the others horses. The ride together to K'tala's castle only to learn that it is guarded by to 'knights' in full plate armor. The two guard have their helms closed are completely covered from head to toe in armor. The party has the strong suspicion that they have encountered the first of the 'metal men' they knew that K'tala was building.
As they approach, the guard holds up a hand in gesture of "halt". Simon addresses one of the guards with a hello but the guard does not reply. So, Simon continues and states that he has a note from Pablo, the head of the town guard in Caliban, that he needs to deliver to K'tala. At this, the guard silently leads the party into a large room. The guard closed the door, touches a gem on the wall, and then walks over and opens another door and they see a courtyard. The guards leads them across the courtyard toward a high tower.
Several party members notice what looks like blood stains in the dirt of the courtyard and see no signs of life except for another guard at the door to the high tower. Fearing that they might be observed if they encounter K'tala, the invisible ones separate from the party and proceed to the other end of the courtyard to begin their search for the fire dogs.
Simon and the others are lead up the outside stairs to a doorway where the door guard opens the main door for the party. As they enter the grand entry room, the detect a faint odor, kind of musty or metallic, coming up from a stairway leading down from an alcove. Before they have too much time to consider this, they are lead up a grand staircase to another door with two guards. These guards silently open the door for the party and they find themselves in a lavish room with velvet carpet and a guilded high chair on a small dais. Seating on the dais is a man wearing a blue turban which has a glowing red stone in it.
At a glance, Simon knows who sits before him. It is K'tala. A man he had hated for some time now. Not just because of this plot to take over the world, but it was K'tala, and others like him, that had driven Simon out of the Caliban army. K'tala's plot for the invasion of Geldall had been the final straw that and forced Simon to desert his commission and leave Caliban as a marked man and traitor. It was K'tala and his teachings that had driven his old country to the verge of starvation and ruin. Simon has to steady his sword arm to keep him from whipping out his rapier and lunging for K'tala's heart. His rational side knows he would never get that far but his emotional side wants to give it a try.
Simon stiffly approaches the figure, and with great effort of will drops to one knee and states the has a note from Pablo of Caliban to be delivered into the hands of Vizier K'tala. K'tala accepts the note from Simon's shaking hand (from repressed anger, not fear) and reads it. Simon states that he is to deliver this note and return with any reply. K'tala rubs his chin and states that he must give this matter some thought. "You will spend the night and take back my reply in the morning." he states. Simon takes this as a request rather than a question when the guards begin moving again leading the party away.
Up another stair case, the party is lead to a circular room with 4 attached bed rooms. Another guard enters with a try of food and water and the two guards leave without word and bolt the door. The party settles in for what is likely to be a long night!
Meanwhile, the invisible party heads toward Pierre's old workroom. There they discover spell books and other personal items of the magic users. They find no signs of live and all have the deepening suspicion that their party and K'tala may be the only living things left in the castle.
After much tense searching and fearing what they will find around each corner or behind each new door, they party finds a locked storeroom where they hear some whining sounds. Pierre finds a key on his key ring that opens the door and they discover 6 very hungry fire dogs in cages. The feed and water the dogs and discover all the equipment they will need to control the dogs. After filling their backpacks with dog food, the set of to find a way to get out of the castle with the dogs.
More tense searching finally leads them to the another hallway that seems to lead toward the, next tower. As the walk along, the strong odor of death and decay grows. At last, the reach a door what seems to lead to a large room where the odor is coming from. Horace stops and says a prayer for the dead before they move on. After more searching, the find the room that leads to the tunnel. From what they can see, it looks like nobody has been down there and they begin to believe that shortly after Pierre left, all the guards and workers were killed and the prisoners were left to start. It may be that K'tala does not even know they are gone.
With their way clear to the out side, the return and get all 6 dogs. They have little trouble leading the dogs back to the tunnel and outside. Along the way, Pierre relocks each door leaving no sign that they had been there. Once they reach the safety of the cave where their horses, the are surprised to find nobody else. Pierre ventures to use the magic cups to communicate with Simon.
Simon, who had been waiting patiently in their "guest" room with the cup in from of him, notices what he thinks is Pierre handling the cup. When a cough comes from the cup, he replies in kind and informs Pierre that they are "guests" of K'tala. If they don't return by midday tomorrow, Simons tells Pierre to return to Jasper to carry on the mission.
After a night with little sleep, the party is awaken by a guard bringing breakfast. Shortly, the guard returns to lead them back to K'tala. K'tala hands Simon an envelope which bears an iridescent red wax seal for him to return to Pablo. Simon thanks him for his hospitality and they leave. The guards lead the party outside where their horses are ready for them. The head back toward Jasper but quickly leave to road to find Pierre and the others.
Pierre, after thinking more about how K'tala has treated his workers when he is done with them, begins to wonder if the note to Pablo might be dangerous for Pablo. He asks Ginger to look at it and she senses moderate malevolent evil emanating from the seal. They decide that they should warn Pablo before he opens the letter.
The party packs up and heads toward Jasper, camping again as night falls. In the middle of the night, they are attacked by ogres but make quick work of them. Among the bodies, they find 200 GP of looted treasure.
By lunchtime the next day, the party is back in Jasper. Simon, Tol, Jortan, and Pierre go and see Pablo. Simon informs him that he completed his mission but is concerned for Pablo's safety. They relate the knowledge Ginger obtained about the evil intent of the envelope. Pablo, a little confused but equally cautions, decides to have the letter checked out by a friend of his.
This friend Orbis is a mage that Pablo assisted in the past by recovering his daughter who had been kidnapped by one of the gangs. Orbis looks at the envelope and begins muttering to himself. He takes out a strange triangular magnifying glass and examines the envelope. He mutters something excitedly and places the envelope on a strange upside-down scale and seemed even more excited. He mumbles something about maybe we should look at this more closely outside.
Leading everyone outside, he utters some strange words and tosses the letter into the air. Making a gesture, there is a crack and the envelope and the letter fall to the ground separately. He picks picks up the envelope and tosses it away. With another gesture the envelope hovers away about 50 feet and then stops. "This is what would have happened had you opened the letter," Orbis tells Pablo. Another gesture and the party notices the ribbon in the wax seal lift and pull away from the letter. There is a large noise and next think anybody knows, they are flat on their back on the ground and there is a 10 foot crater under where the envelope had been.
Orbis picks up the letter and examines it. "Blank," he states. He turns to Pablo and asks with a twinkle in his eye, "what kind of friend sends you letters like this?"
Pablo thanks Orbis for his help and leaves with the party. Simon decides that it is time to lay all their cards on the table and asks Pablo if he has some time to discuss what is going on. Pablo replies, "I owe you quite a bit of time right now!"
Pablo sends for Priestess Mina and she, Pablo and the entire party meet to tell everything. After all the plans, plots, prophecies, and portents are told, it seems clear to all that now is the time for action. Pablo will obtain access to the deep mine, Mina will gather all the troops together and get the weapons for their forging. They have very little time for actions but all are committed to the mission.
Mina also informs all that a traveler from the east, Methri the Dragon Slayer from Geldall, has presented Mina with her dragon sword to fight the great evil. It does look like Kez was right that the Priestess of Light will soon meet the Master of Darkness.