Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Part 12: The Many Adventures of Duke Ravengard


So remember last time how I said there were three minotaur skeletons?

Yeah...uhh...we only saw two in the window. I got the three from the book when I was reading it to make sure I was getting details straight, and those three were outside, prepped to attack the party for stepping foot on the grounds of the cemetery, which wasn't an issue because we snuck past.

So you might be thinking, "Gee, Aaron, if it's just two of them attacking the party with Gideon it shouldn't be that bad, right?"

Yeah about that, there were four of them that jumped into the fray.

And yeah, our party has a mini nuke on their hands, but...I mean they're skeletons of giant bull men! I don't care that their lack of muscles would realistically make them rather unstable. It's magic! And they're scary! And they did a ton of damage to people in our party.

Between the minotaur skeletons and Gideon, things were looking pretty scary. We weren't sure just how much Rylee would be able to stay on top of the healing, and Seliph could only do so much defensive maneuvering in a large open room.

It was high time for Rylee to make an exception to her No Violence rule.

But only sort of. She cast the spell Turn Undead, which was able to intimidate the skeletons into giving the party some room.

Which is exactly what we needed because we were soon able to swarm Gideon. And...well...

Anyway, once Gideon had been finished off, the minotaur skeletons collapsed, dust flowing in the....umm....stale air inside the chapel? Okay, I wanted to throw in some cool imagery but I'm also like a month behind on this update so...this is what you get.

So, Gideon had nothing to do with their adventure here and there was still a demon problem to deal with downstairs. So, on the off chance that they'd find Duke Ravengard in the basement of this building, down the party went.

Paraphrasing a lot of dungeon delving, eventually the party came across a man wearing a strange helmet, surrounded by mutilated corpses of humans wearing the uniforms of Baldur's Gate and Elturel. The man was repeating a strange chant in an almost unintelligible language, with random words appearing in the Celestial and Abyssal languages.

Seliph was able to gather from the babbling that the man was currently hosting a struggle within his mind between himself, a divine being, and a powerful demon. Further investigation allowed the party to unearth the fact that this man was the man they were looking for, Duke Ravengard, and that the demonic power within him (specifically the helm he was wearing) was tied to the portal.

The party took a few minutes to sidebar and discuss what their options were. Rylee wasn't sure she would be able to remove the curse. Seliph for sure wouldn't be able to.

Kalista suggested something else.

"What if we just killed him? Like, cut his head off and take the helm back to the High Hall?"

Lulu let out a horrified screach, and then said, "I mean, I suppose it would work, but..."

"We're not killing him," Rylee said firmly.

"Yeah, that seems unnecessary if we have to take the helm back to the High Hall anyway," Seliph added.

"Will we be able to drag him back to the High Hall without fear of injury to us or him, though?" Faust asked.

A fair point, since, well, here's a picture of what he looks like.

Yeah, pretty big guy in full plate armor.

"I'll...do it," Seliph offered sheepishly.

As it turns out Ravengard was too distracted by the battle within his mind to offer up any resistance as the party began to escort him out of the cemetery.

Which was great, because on the road back to the High Hall the party came across a man being attacked by two bulezaus. What's a bulezau?

This terrifying thing.

Anyway, Rylee rushed into save the man, Seliph told the others to hide Ravengard, and then the party laid a smackdown on the bulezaus.

I mean, it was...suspiciously easy, the man they saved not doing much to put that suspicion at ease. He introduced himself as Orin Ragron, the city's blacksmith, but he seemed weirdly leery of Seliph. His lack of explanation as why a blacksmith was so overwhelmed (not to mention really shifty about where his shop was) was a point of concern for Seliph, who discreetly cast activated his Divine Sense, with which he was able to determine that not only was the blacksmith not a good guy, he wasn't even the blacksmith he claimed to be, but rather an incubus in disguise.

Seliph's change in expression must have tipped the fiend off about his failure to conceal his identity, because he quickly made an excuse of needing to "check on his shop" and took off.

"What was that about?" the party seemingly asked at once.

"You probably figured it out but that guy wasn't the blacksmith," Seliph said once everyone had reconvened. "He's a fiend, probably was up to no good, so we're gonna need to alert the city watch in case he comes back to cause any more trouble."

"Then why not go after him?" Faust asked.

"Well, I mean, it's only an incubus, and we have bigger fish to fry with Ravengard. Certainly bigger than some devil out to get laid."

"Fair point," Faust conceded.

The rest of the trip back to the High Hall was much less eventful. As the party entered into the secret entrance, Faust made a suggestion.

"Let's wait to bring Duke Ravengard in. His current state of mind might be distressing for the commonfolk."

"I agree," said Seliph. "Let me go in and grab someone."

That someone turned out to be Pherria Jynks, someone the party met earlier but I failed to mention. Surprised at Seliph's sudden appearance by himself, she asked if everything was all right.

"Mostly, but umm....can you come with me into the secret entrance? Also can you keep a secret?"


"Yes or no, can you keep a secret?"

"I mean, of course, but, why the urgency?"

Seliph quickly led her to where the rest of the party waited. Upon seeing Ravengard in the state he was in, she stifled a shriek. The party quickly explained what was wrong with him, asking if she had any ideas for how to save him, to which she suggested the Ritual of Returning, which they could start right away with some assistance from the party.

First, the altar of Torm needed to be cleansed, as it would be the location of the ritual. Seliph offered to do that with proper instruction.

Second, someone must be standing nearby to offer the prayer to Torm. Being the most experienced in that regard, Rylee offered.

"Is that okay, though?" Seliph asked. "I mean, you already have arrangements, won't that seem like cheating?"

"Not at all," Rylee replied. "It's for a good cause that will save lives rather than end them. This is the sort of thing I preach, and it is the sort of thing I live for."

Seliph shrugged. "Makes sense, I guess."

Third, a powerful symbol of courage and self-sacrifice would be needed for the ritual. Rylee offered...something....I can't remember, it's been a while and I'm super behind.

Whatever it was, it worked, and the ritual went off without a hitch, though having read that part of the module it could have been bad.

Anyway, with the ritual successfully performed, Duke Ravengard slowly came back to his senses. Once he was mentally available, he gathered the party together to let them know of the visions he was wracked with. From the book:

  • In his spirit journey, Ravengard saw a bloodied woman in armor — a soldier wearing the colors and crest of Elturel — grasping a longsword fit for an angel. Fresh blood streamed from a nasty cut on the woman’s cheek.
  • Flying next to the woman was a small, golden elephant with rapidly fluttering wings.
  • As an enormous, loping demon threatened to devour the woman, she plunged the sword into the ground while the winged elephant made a trumpet sound with its trunk. The demon was hurled back as an alabaster palace rose up around the sword. The winged elephant fled and took to the red sky of Avernus, where it watched as a bloody scab grew up from the ground to engulf the palace and the enormous demon.
  • The winged elephant fled and wandered in a delirium before coming upon two odd, birdlike humanoids dressed in patchwork armor and standing next to a strange infernal vehicle. The bird creatures were equipped with odd weapons and tools.
He suggested that that sword, the Sword of Zariel, might be key in saving Elturel. Lulu, suddenly struck with vague memories, reasoned that it might also be what's needed to save her friend.

This wasn't quite where we called the session but this entry is getting a little long and there's a LOT left to cover, so in the interest of giving you SOMETHING to read, here you go. We've got our next objective. Find the sword. Where? Find out next time.

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