As the noise dies down from the fight with the two priests, our heroes hear noises from behind a door. There are the sounds of small explosions and shouts of “Hurry, you fools,” and “They could be here any moment!”
Rit, in her enthusiasm to find out what’s going on behind the door, rushes up and starts ineffectively pushing on it. Ferasar and Tekh also waste no time in getting to the door. For Ferasar, it is because of his lust to destroy more demons, and for Tekh, it is just because of her eagerness for more fighting. Cham hangs back slightly, reloading and preparing his gnomish pistol. Ferasar gets to the door before Tekh and opens it quickly.
Beyond is a corridor running parallel to the door that was just opened. There is another door on the other side of the corridor. Facing this door is a lesser demon, which had been blasting away at it, with no noticeable results, though the walls around the door is scorched severely. To one side of the demon are a pair ofpriests, and a pair of small demonlings. To the other side of the demon is another priest in somewhat more ornate robes who shouts, “Get them!” and all three priests begin casting spells.
The demon responds to the command instantly and blasts Ferasar solidly in the chest, blowing him back a few feet, and knocking his momentarily senseless. The Demonlings are only a little slower and advance on Tekh and Rit just as Cham shoots the demon ineffectually with his pistol. Rit’s Demonling claws at the air, trying to shred the nimble pixie until the pixie turns suddenly into Reixelia and makes short work of the tiny demon with her sword. Tekh’s Demonling’s claws rip into the dwarf’s stony flesh, but then Tekh makes similarly short work of it. Suddenly the more ornate priest completes his spell and vanishes from sight, as does one of the other priests. The third priest stumbles over his incantations, however, and remains visible. He frantically restarts the spell. The sounds of more casting also comes from the general location of where the other two priests had been standing.
The remaining demon, thinking Ferasar out of action for the moment, smirks as it shifts its aim to the shining armored figure that appeared seemingly out of nowhere and sends another unholy blast into Reixelia. Her armor, however, protects her from the brunt of the blast and she smirks back and advances. Meanwhile, Ferasar regains his senses and his feet and repays the larger demon in kind for his wounds with his deity-granted holy blast of sunlight, doing significant damage to the evil outsider. Then Reixelia slashes the demon with her shining greatsword, doing severe damage, though the demon still seems strong.
Just then the invisible ornate priest’s spell ends and Tekh whips her head around suddenly, as if sensing something unexpected. She charges the apparently empty spot and the body of the priest suddenly appears as his head goes flying from his shoulders. The remaining demon suddenly disappears as its summoner dies, and the visible priest takes to his heels in terror. There is also the sound of running footsteps as the remaining invisible priest also flees for his life, leaving a very visible puddle behind where he had been standing.
With the demons and priests defeated, the group then turns its collective attention toward the door which had so frustrated the evil priests, and to the one corpse left by the fraca, that of the higher ranked priest. Under the blood splattered black robes, which were very finely crafted with silver filigree, the priest also wore black heavy cloth armor, which Ferasar was able to confirm had an unholy blessing upon it to make it stronger, not that it had helped the priest once Tekh had gotten to him. The door was finely carved stone, but when they tried to touch it, they found that they could not. There was an invisible barrier that covered the door completely.
It did not, however, extend to the wall, though said wall was still thick and sturdily crafted from stone. This didn’t matter much to Tekh, though. She merely pulled out a pickax, and started hacking away at it with her great strength. At the first blow, however, a great wail arose and a spectral voice shouted, “Noooo, Stop!” and Tekh felt a sudden painful chill. “Soooooo you’re just liiiiiike the ooooothers! Yooooou’re after my luuuucky chaaaarm!” Ferasar tries to argue with the voice, “But we need it to save the world.” Ferasar then feels a pain of his own as the voice shouts, “Doooon’t caaare! It’s miiiine!” Cham then speaks up and asks, “Are you Grogan Underminer?” He then feels the chill touch of the ghost as it replies, “Yeeees, now goooooo awaaaaay!” The party then moves a little way away briefly and conferred among themselves. Then they return, and Tech takes another swing at the hole while Ferasar stands ready with his holy symbol out. At the first sign of the ghost, Ferasar holds forth the holy symbol and shouts, “Let us have the Artifact!” The wail fades slightly, but comes back again as Tekh swings again at the wall. This time Ferasar says, “Go away, Grogan!” as he holds forth the symbol of his goddess again. This time the voice fades away completely as the ghost is forced to flee, and Tekh is able to break through the wall unmolested.
Through the wall is a study. It is the only room found so far that has not been trashed or looted. Everything is apparently as it was when the master of the house passed on. A thick undisturbed layer of dust lays over everything. In the course of their searching the room, the party finds a letter sitting on a table. The letter reads:
My Dearest Grogan,
Excellent news! I’m finally free of this cursed scavenger’s existence. I have found the most marvelous artifact which, when used correctly, will completely remove the need for me to hunt every evening for fresh blood. It will provide all the fresh, hot blood I can drink. You must come by when you can to see my wonderful cup. It even has glowing white markings similar to those on that old coin you always claimed was your good luck charm. Bring it along, and we can compare them.
Baroness of Harraspor
The group put this away for later perusal. They also took a few of the books on the shelves of the study. In the meantime, Cham tried to check a large painting to see if it will open or pivot or otherwise reveal a secret passage or safe or similar, but didn’t have any luck with it. Then Rit flew over and gently tugged on the other side of the painting and it swings open easily to reveal a small room beyond.
Inside of this room was an ornate pedestal, and on that pedestal was a large brass disc about a foot across with a five-pointed star covering each side, and three glowing white symbols in the center of the star. They have found The Pentacle of Balatro. The group was cautious of traps at first, but the room and pedestal turned out to be safe, and they took the disc.
As soon as the disc is touched, it immediately shrinks to about 2 inches across.
As our heroes make their way back out of the mansion and back to town, they discuss the Pentacle and what to do with it, and the letter and what it can tell them. They decide to hide the Pentacle on one of them. Ferasar has Cham hide it in the elf’s long hair. He hides it so well that even Ferasar isn’t sure it’s really there.
As for the letter, Cham tells them that Harraspor is a small barony in Gnomina, the land of the Gnomes. He had not met the baroness, but has heard rumors that she is a fair ruler and well liked by her people. They decide that the cup she refers to in the letter is very likely to be The Cup of Balatro, one of the artifacts they seek. They also decide that her references to hunting for and drinking blood and her “cursed scavenger’s existence” strongly indicates that she is a vampire, so when they get back to town, they equip themselves appropriately both for the journey, and for taking on a vampire, using what knowledge of them they have available.
Once provisioned, equipped and rested, they set out for Gnomina. Only a couple of nights later, however, a thief sneaks into their camp and attempts to steal one of Cham’s boots. Cham awakens at the tug, however, and has a knife at the thief’s throat before he knows what happened. The thief, a rough-looking halfling, plead for his life and claims at first that he just wanted the boots because he just needed boots and those looked nice. After further interrogation, and a calming spell from Rit, however, he tells them that he was hired by a guy in black to steal what was in that boot. The party continues to press him, however, and when Tekh decides that it’s best just to kill him so he won’t report back, he manages to wriggle out of Cham’s grasp (actually, Cham let go to prevent his hand being chopped off by Tekh’s swing) and run for it, and though he takes a few wounds, he manages to get away.
When questioned on what was in Cham’s boot that anyone would want, he pulls out a royal insignia and explains that it’s his family crest and he normally keeps it in that boot for safety.
The party seems to accept this explanation, and goes back to sleep. In the morning, the thief shows back up again, but this time, he brings friends: two ogres, a goblin, a pixie, and a human. The thief grins and says, “Remember mGet THEM!” The reason for his sudden self-interruption is that Tehk had apparently not cared about his speech to come and had immediately attacked upon seeing him. Rit cast an illusion so that it seems that she summoned a huge fire elemental, which began to harry the ogres, which caused them to beat each other senseless (well, more senseless than an ogre thug already is). The pixie was taken out, after many tries (pixies are really really hard to hit) by a blast from Ferasar and Cham’s gnomish pistol. Tehk beheaded the thief, and finished off the ogre that was left standing after Rit finally banished the illusion. The only one left, the Human archer, managed to surrender before Tehk also left him without a head. This was largely due to the human’s exceptional good looks, and Tehk decided to let him stay with them as a ::ahem:: sparring partner for herself.
That night, after another day of travelling, the Underminer’s ghost reappeared, paying special attention to Cham, and revealing that the spirit sensed its ‘lucky charm’ on him, but Ferasar’s holy powers made short work of him, this time sending the spirit to its rest permanently.
After the spirit was banished, however, the party had a few choice words to say to Cham, who admitted that he had palmed the Pentacle and hidden it inside of his boot. He explained that he had done it so that no one would know its true location, even if someone in the party were questioned. The party grumblingly accepted this explanation, at least on the surface.