Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lareth's treasure

The day after the attack on Matopher's farm, a few of the younger sons-- Vlad, Dumetru, and Mihir went into Gold Hill to report their success and sell some cider.  Vlad convinced Dumetru to trade his silver dagger ("you don't really need it anymore") in exchange for a battle axe and the materials Vlad needed so he could repair and retrofit Lareth's plate mail armor for his own use.

A couple days later, Sir Miles, Chrono, Circe, and McDowell went out to the Matopher farm, interested in hearing more of the story and seeing where the battle had occurred.  Sir Miles, because of his oath to protect the White Queen was especially interested in hearing about what her part in it might have been.  While most of the family, including Matopher himself were satisfied that the old man's secret life work was complete, and that the evil replica of the ancient Queen had been destroyed.  Mihir believed otherwise.

But that was a question for another day.  There was a more immediate problem.  In his room at the inn, Lareth had left a shadow behind.

Vlad, Dumetru, and Mihir agreed to accompany the others back to Gold Hill to investigate.  Brau explained that during his stay at the inn, Lareth had politely requested that no one else enter his room.  When he stopped returning to the inn, she had barred the door, but now that he was dead and his true nature revealed, she wished to remove any trace of him.  But his room lay in permanent shadow.  Brau, standing in the doorway with a candle, showed the party how the candle's light did not extend more than a few feet into the room-- the rest lay in complete darkness.  She tossed the candle into the shadow and its light disappeared, even before they heard it hit the floor.

What's more, she had discovered another place of shadow.  There was an underground stream at the back of the inn, separating that part of the old mines that had been made habitable from whatever lay beyond.  There was a path along this stream that led to a half-forgotten storage area.  A second shadow blocked this path.

The party decided it was be less disruptive to deal with this shadow first.  McDowell prepared his rope and grappling hook and tossed the hook into the shadow, hoping to catch onto anything inside.  Something caught the rope and started pulling McDowell toward.

Without letting go of the rope, McDowell quickly backed away, letting out enough slack to avoid getting pulled into the shadow.  Sir Henry's sword began to get hot.  When drawn, it glowed with a hot white light.  As McDowell was backed into corner, Sir Henry leapt forward, slashing at the center of the shadow.  His blade struck something solid and then broke through it-- bone fragments and a gleaming white human skull exploded around the room accompanied by  the sound of clanging metal hitting the stone floor.  The shadow remained, though it no longer moved.

Vlad stepped into the shadow, and began tossing out the debris he found on the floor inside the shadow: lots more bones, a shield, fragments of armor.  And then something that seemed to be the source of the shadow-- a curved sword.  Though they couldn't seem it, it felt rusty and not especially sharp.  Vlad wrapped the sword in a sack and the shadow disappeared.

Encouraged by their success with the first shadow, the party went to Lareth's room to deal with the second.  Circe fired a magic missile into the core of the shadow, and then Sir Henry and Chronos charged in with their weapons.  They destroyed a second skeleton.  It too carried a rusty sword, but this was not the source of the shadow.  There was instead, a box.  Through trial and error, they discover that there was something in the mosaic lid of the box that was the source of the shadow.  They covered the lid so that McDowell could pick the lock on the box.  Inside the party found more treasure than they had ever owned, touched, or seen.  Silver serving pieces and goblets, an alabaster box, and a gold chain with fire opals.  After sharing out this treasure, they went to see what the other shadow might have been guarding.

Returning to the stream at the back of the inn, they followed the once-blocked path upstream to where it ended at a ford.  Crossing the stream, they found a rough natural cavern filled with junk.  A dim red light shone from a large hole on the opposite side of the room.  Vlad stepped closer to investigate.  The rest of the party saw the red light get brighter and then both Vlad and the light disappeared into darkness.  Moments later, two giant insects-- three-foot long beetles with glowing red heads, charged into the room, attacking them with their mandibles.  The darkness dissipated and the party could see Vlad, nearly overwhelmed by two more beetles and with his darkness sword returned to its sack. 

The beetles were fierce and fearless, but the party killed them all without suffering any serious wounds.  They climbed into the beetles lair, a noisome place.  Finding no way to continue their expedition, they searched the lair thoroughly.  Mixed in with pile of bones, Circe came upon a finely-wrought dagger of ancient design.  Although happy about the find, the party was nonetheless puzzled-- What was Lareth guarding with the second shadow-skeleton?  Could he even have known the dagger was there? 

After reporting to Brau on their success, the party enjoyed a delicious meal on the house.  Amid joking and boasting, they agreed that their treasures were worth more than anything in Gold Hill.  To learn their true value or anything else about them, they would need to seek out a larger settlement.

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