Carrion Crown

Travel Preparations

Since Caromarc informed them that the cultists were headed for the Shudderwood, he proposes Ascanor Lodge as a likely stop for them, and one that would be worth investigating. He advises the group to speak to Judge Daramid to secure invitations to the exclusive lodge.

Once in Lepidstadt, Block’s body is left at the temple of Desna for resurrection. The others proceed to prepare for the upcoming journey. They sell excess gear and outfit themselves further with magical items. They secure a sealed invitation to Ascanor Lodge from Judge Daramid. They also locate a local Pathfinder Society chapter-house in order to gather information on the lodge.

Il-kor asks Stephen, the local Venture-Captain, about the lodge and states that the party might be interested in joining the Society if there are openings. Stephen informs them of the Lodge’s history, and three murders that have taken place there over the decades, supposedly by a ghost. He tells Il-kor that if the party can discover the story behind the Ascanor Lodge murders, he will try to arrange for their induction into the Society.

By morning, Block is alive once more (though missing an eye) and the group is better armed, both with weapons and with knowledge. They hire a local man to drive their supply wagon, and then set out for Ascanor.

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Freeing the Count

After the battle, the group is surprised to see a tiny homunculus appear on Fagut’s shoulder. The tiny creature directs them to climb downward into the chamber the monstrous construct came from. There they discover Count Alpon Caromarc imprisoned. Upon freeing them, he explains that cultists from the Whispering Way came to his castle a week prior. They imprisoned him, and used the machine atop the tower to force the Beast of Lepidstadt and the tiny homunculus to steal the Seasage Effigy from the University.

He agrees to let the party keep the items they had been looting from the castle, and even agrees to pay for the resurrection of the inquisitor. He does this on the condition that they will follow the cultists into the Shudderwood and avenge what they did to him and his creations.

He writes a letter instructing his bankers in Lepidstadt to release funds for the party, and instructs them to speak with Judge Daramid again before following the cultists, as she will bea able to provide them with further assistance.

Il-kor and Mike, along with one of the count’s golems, recover the body of Block, and the party returns to Lepidstadt.

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Atop the Iron Spire

The party ends up camping for two nights at the base of the spire, so that they can recover from the ability damage the leeches, acid, and fungus caused in the previous days.

At the end of those nights they come to a decision – they will “Crunch-fly” up to the uppermost level of the spire and work their way down. They do so, landing on the third level of a series of iron platforms atop the spire. On the roof with them is a strange machine consisting of strange tubes and chambers connected to a large lightning rod and adorned with numerous levers. Seeing that the tower below appears to be closed off by an irising access hatch of some kind, Il-kor begins experimenting with the levers.

The machine eventually jolts to life, and a series of lightning bolts crash down around the players as the hatch below opens, revealing a huge construct of some kind below – a beast comprised of multiple claws and tentacles. Through the machine, Il-kor feels the presence of the Beast of Lepidstadt, working his way up the cliff face.

A heated battle ensues, with the party attempting to stall the construct until the Beast can reach them. When he arrives, Viktor uses a vial of adamantine weapon blanch from Vorkstag’s to allow the Beast’s weapon to do full damage to the thing. The Beast wins, but is nearly destroyed in the process.

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Why Swarms Are Bad

At the top of the cliff, and still in shock from the death of the inquisitor, the party find themselves facing a strange structure consisting of five towers and interconnecting corridors. However, the iron door leading inside appears to be stuck. It has no evident lock, and even Crunch is unable to budge it. Il-kor decides to use a high-powered blast from the ring of the ram, and that successfully forces the door open. A flood of water comes out, filling the recessed area around the door to knee height. Apparently, the water pressure was holding the door shut.

Wading slowly inside the party find themselves at a fork, with the corridor branching towards the southwestern and southeastern towers. They turn to the southwestern branch, but as they proceed, Il-kor triggers a pit trap beneath the water, releasing two swarms of leeches. Against so many tiny targets, their weapons prove useless and they are forced to retreat. (OOC Note: The wizard had gone home.)

Frustrated, but not daring to try the cliff path again, the party makes camp at the base of the spire.

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A Day of Disasters

After a night’s rest in the mansion, the party regroups for a second foray into the museum wing. They once again use a flying Crunch to ferry them across the trapped bridge and resume their search. Continuing downward from the mummy’s chamber, they discover a basement room connected to the main museum structure by a spiral staircase. This room contains a blind golem and six homunculi that act as its eyes, but they are dormant, due to the alarm spell on the main museum door being safely deactivated. However, when the group attempts to search the room, the golem wakes. It proves to be a fairly simple encounter, since the party is able to pin it in the stairway.

Searching the room, the group uncovers three blacked-out glass jars. When the first is opened, it releases a cloud of spores, seriously sickening several of the party. The members of the group with healthy constitutions decide that they need to know what is in the others, so they head to a separate room to open them. Those jars contain a preserved sea hag head and a basirond fungus, but successful saves allow them to be sealed again with no difficulty.

The group begins searching the museum, finding countless preserved specimens of strange beasts but nothing of value. In attempting to explore the upper levels of the museum, however, they do trigger an acid fog trap, further injuring the group.

Satisfied that the museum has been cleared they proceed to the dangerous path between the museum and the strange spire at the top of the cliff. Negrodamus uses fly to get himself to the top, leaving the others to climb. Most make it with no real difficulty (after removing their armor to be hauled up later) but Block is unable to manage, and ends up plummeting 150 feet to his death in the river below.

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Bridge to the Museum Wing

The bridge from the lab to the next building, apparently destroyed by the explosion that damaged the building in the past, has been replaced by a treacherous rope bridge. Crunch attempts to cross, but a close call after he slips quickly forces the party to reconsider. They decide instead that they will cross by having Negrodamus cast fly on Crunch, and having him ferry the group across with his superior strength.

During the flight, Mike notices runes etched into a board in the center of the bridge, which he believes to be some type of summoning trap.

On the far side, Il-kor disarms an alarm trap on the door, and they proceed inside. The building appears to be home to Caromarc’s collection of preserved oddities, and the group find themselves surrounded by strange taxidermied creatures. Negrodamus casts detect magic, telling the group that the northern room has a small magical aura somewhere within.

They head that way, into a room decorated with more preserved figures, which features two sarcophagi propped against the eastern and western walls. The magic appears to be contained within the western one. Il-kor checks the eastern one, which is not only empty but poorly made. The group then pries open the western one, only to be attacked by a mummy. As the group battles the mummy, backing away as they do to avoid its cursed touch, the eastern sarcophagus animates, revealing itself as a mimic in disguise. It manages to grapple Mike, but he keeps one hand free to keep damaging it as it constricts him. The others finish off the mummy, then come to his aid, killing the mimic and freeing him from its grasp. The mummy’s treasure proves to be a ring of the ram.

Wounded after the two battles and low on magic, the group crosses back to the manor house the same way they came, with Negrodamus once again enchanting Crunch so that he can carry them.

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Into the Manor

Among the debris in the gatehouse, the group finds a tattered tunic bearing the coat of arms of House Caromarc. After a mending spell from Viktor, the tunic is serviceable, and the group decides that Il-kor should wear it, hopefully convincing the hound ahead that they are visitors in the company of a guard. The plan succeeds, and they are allowed to pass.

Inside they find a magnificently appointed manor, tended by a group of unseen servants. However they find no sign that the manor has been recently used. They agree that the Whispering Way may be responsible for Caromarc’s absence, so after searching the manor for useful items, a few of the group head to the next building to continue the search.

The next building turns out to be an abandoned alchemy lab, damaged by some type of explosion. Within the building they encounter a trio of rust monsters. Il-kor loses a sword to the monsters’ corrosive touch, but the monsters are quickly slain by Crunch’s club and Negrodamus’s fireball. The blast tears away a section of floor, however, and the group discovers that the rust monsters have weakened the buildings supports. They proceed to tiptoe carefully from that point.

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Miracle at the Manor Gate

As the clerics of the party debate what can be done about their fallen comrade, the others interrogate the group of goblins the trolls were keeping as slaves. They learn that the trolls were trying to raid the mansion but were kept at bay by the golem hound which guards the first bridge. They allow the goblins to leave, and one of them hands the wizard a talisman they found at the gatehouse, which he recognizes as a symbol of the Whispering Way.

The clerics agree that they do not have the means to resurrect Fagut. They each begin praying, consulting their gods (in the form of the GM) for any possible solution. Their gods grant them a one-time boon, allowing them to attempt a raise dead ritual, in exchange for the expenditure of all their daily magic (plus 3 hero points). They begin the ritual, while the others search the gatehouse.

The group decides to camp at the gatehouse for the night to allow time for the ritual, which concludes successfully a few hours before dawn.

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Revenge!

The group reaches Lepidstadt in a matter of hours and heads to the Daramid estate, where the rest of their group were waiting. They explain the situation at the gatehouse, receive healing from Viktor and Phoenix, and then turn in for the night.

The next day they do some shopping to prepare for the battle ahead, stocking up on flasks of oil and alchemist’s fire. When they are convinced that they have enough firepower to overwhelm the trolls, they ride back to Schloss Caromarc. The trolls, apparently convinced that the adventurers would be too scared to return, are not very vigilant, so the group manages to approach without taking fire from the crossbow-wielding leader.

A huge battle ensues on the lower level of the gatehouse, with the party using weapons wrapped in burning oil rags to keep the trolls from regenerating. Fagut heads to the upper level in order to set up a flanking position, but is met at the rear stairs by the trolls’s commander, Grork. As his allies below finish off the weakened and burning trolls, Fagut duels the leader. He is nearly victorious but a lucky series of attacks gets through and he falls from the battlements. Concerned for their downed ally, Phoenix and Block rush upstairs and quickly dispatch Grork with a flurry of attacks.

Their victory proves somewhat hollow, as it appears that Fagut’s wounds are beyond healing.

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Savage Guardians

Upon reaching Schloss Caromarc, the group discovers that the gatehouse has been occupied by a group of trolls. They manage to subdue the troll-hounds at the gate, but have no means to prevent their regeneration so they settle for tossing the unconscious hounds from the cliff. However, while they do this they com under attack by trolls on the battlements, who rain down heavy stones and crossbow bolts. Attempting to break line of sight, Fagut and Mike rush forward, but two of the trolls run downstairs to meet them. A hard battle ensues, and both of them fall. Il-kor throws a smokestick for concealment and pulls them to safety.

Satisfied that the “intruders” have been dissuaded, the trolls allow the group to flee, laughing and hurling insults as the group retreats.

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