Trace of Breath

1208.12.11-12 - 3rd Rest 11-12:1208

Prison Break (2,008 XP; total in game = 2858)

As promised, Polycarp decided to use his free day to visit Charlie Sampson in Watchpeak Prison. Having nothing more important to do at the moment, and perhaps with a lack of trust or merely some residual sense of duty to protect the Deva, Argoth accompanied him.

The approach to the prison was dead quiet, with no foot traffic in or out, save a lone Eladrin figure dressed in the fine robes of a magic user. The mage identified himself as Magnus, Arch-Wizard of the School of Magic in Anvar. He said that he had come here to visit someone, but found the place locked up tight with the draw-bridge raised. He would have investigated himself, but feared a field of anti-magic used for security purposes in the entryway that would render him helpless.

Recognizing the insignia of the Gatekeepers, Magnus was glad to see them, and asked if they would be willing to investigate the situation in exchange for 600 Gold a piece upon their return. They agreed and, with his help, were able to disable part of the draw-bridge and slip inside.

QUEST – Investigate the Prison

(reward 600 GP and 250 XP each)

Prison Level 1

Upon entering, Polycarp immediately noticed several traps set. They disabled most of them, realizing that the traps were not meant to prevent invasion, but keep people in. The first few rooms were empty of life, though some signs of blood could be found. The stairways were also trapped, and both heroes were splashed with a residue of water mixed with spice from the Amahlia plant. Polycarp’s knowledge of religious rites gave insight that such a spice is often used in religious rituals.

Both warriors grew nervous as they continued to explore. They heard metallic crashing echoing up the hole of a disabled dumbwaiter, but continued to explore the first floor and to rest and recover before investigating it further. Also on the first floor, they discovered the body of a guard with trap-making materials on him. Though he had many vicious bite wounds, his death was caused clearly caused by his own sword still thrust through his abdomen. They also climbed the stairs to the outer towers, and tried to rig their own trap with a basin of molten led prepared to pour into the entrance chamber below, but to no avail.

After a short rest, the two companions entered the room of the captain of the watch, whose pouch of 20 Gold still sat in a foot locker. An argument ensued as Argoth took the money, intending to keep it if the soldier could not be found, or was found to have died. Polycarp threatened to attack his comrade if he did not return it, but Argoth ignored him. After a pregnant silence, the tension passed and the two continued their investigation.

They passed through a heavily barred door into an enormous courtyard with overarching ramparts. Across the yard was a large iron double-door to a second complex and an oubliette for isolated prisoners. Barring their way, however, was the largest creature they had ever seen. A huge undead hulking monster came tromping toward them, but they retreated back inside, barring the door and blockading it with furniture.

Prison Level B1

The two adventurers descended a nearby stairwell, hoping to discover the source of the earlier clanging. They came across two zombies that were sitting casually at a card table while a third, half-devoured soldier lay on the floor. At the appearance of fresh meat, the monsters attacked, but were overcome by an increasingly strategic duo of Gatekeepers (their personal tension failing to translate to the field of battle). Searching the bodies, they identified one as Topper, an assistant to the resident wizard of the prison. The papers were authenticated by the name " Ysuran ".

Playing things more carefully, Polycarp scouted ahead with stealth and careful listening. This avoided potential combat with two more zombies before he was discovered by another group. As battle ensued, one zombie was able to release it’s allies, but Polycarp and Argoth fearlessly tore through them.

While looting the bodies, Argoth discovered that 40 gold pieces were missing from his supply. When asked, Polycarp freely admitted that he picked Argoth’s pocket because the gold did not belong to him, as it was found in the quarters of a guard captain whose whereabouts were still unknown. They argued, but a tense truce was agreed upon while undead roamed free.

Exploring further, the heroes came to the office of the warden, Sir Lexington. The warden was still there, seemingly unaware of the undead plague around him as he frantically sorted through papers on his desk. When he noticed the intruders, Lexington declared them agents of distraction and attacked them, revealing himself to be undead after all. While fighting off his uncanny attacks, he heroes recognized Sir Lexington as a hero of the Anima revolution. Polycarp recognized him as an unsettled spirit, doomed to remain undead while until a task was fulfilled. He also noticed Lexington’s preoccupation with the documents on his desk. Argoth managed to maneuver to the table and discover the papers to be prisoner release forms that required a signature. Using his skills in diplomacy, Argoth convinced Lexington of their desire to help. The warden offered his sword as reward for the release of he prisoners and signature of the resident wizard, Ysuran.

Minor Quest: Free Ysuran’s Prisoners for Sir Lex: 50 XP; Level 6 Sword

At the name Ysuran, Polyrp was sent into a trance, where he saw the sun setting over the dunes of a desert he felt to be home. He ignored the shuffling of small feet he knew to be insignificant until he felt a prick of pain in his right calf. As his vision blurred, he looked down in surprise at the face of a mischievous gnome. Next, he saw a great yard surrounded with walls, and felt a great rage as he saw the faces of two men from across the clearing. As he began to charge, his trance ended.

While Polycarp and Argoth were still bandaging wounds and deciding how to proceed, another agent of the Gatekeepers, Camden Young II, arrives on the scene and explains that he was sent to investigate the prison and was told by Magnus outside that comrades had gone in ahead of him. They search Sir Lexington’s office and find a map of the grounds. With the only entrance to the cell blocks guarded by the hulking beast, Polycarp points out that they need to rest before they can take on that challenge. He suggests that the chapel, marked on the third floor, might be safe from undead intrusion.

With Camden’s help, the Gatekeepers fight there way to the chapel where they find Charlie Sampson (the “brother” Polycarp came to find) alone and unharmed, hiding under a pew. He says that the monster guard had always been there, a pet of the prison mage, Ysuran. Two days ago, however, the prisoners were let into the yard and the monster was released to attack them. Charlie scaled a vent shaft to get away, along with some others, but the rest were shot down by prison guards (all of whom appeared to be sick with some kind of infection). Charlie managed to hide in the ventilation system and make his way here, where the infected guards seem to have left him alone.

Charlie said he did commit a crime, having fallen in with bad company, and was rightfully serving his time, but that he was visited by a prison chaplain by the name of Denubis. Since then, he had been trying to turn his life around and dedicate himself to Bahamut. Camden asked more about Bahamut and the two brothers attempted to evangelize him. It became clear, however, that his mild curiosity didn’t amount to genuine interest.

The heroes spent the night safely in the chapel. With one mission complete (finding Charlie), their intent turned toward fulfilling Sir Lexington’s quest and defeating Ysuran, whom Polycarp revealed was on his list of murderers to bring to justice.

They decided that the best way past the undead hulk was to sneak past overhead on the ramparts and climb down in front of the door before it can reach them. Their plans were thwarted by skeletal guard dogs and automated crossbow turrets that threatened to push them down into the waiting arms of the vicious zombie giant. Camden blasted the dogs into splinters with his lightning magic, and they were able to use Argoth as bait to lure the monster under a portcullis that the other two sent crashing down. With the guardian defeated, the way seemed clear to reach the cell blocks… and Ysuran.

After disabling and evading a few more crossbow turrets, the heroes broke into the cell block area. Baited by an undead slinging filth, however they tripped a wire and succumbed to the gas it triggered. They awoke in cages where an undead gnome introduced himself as Ysuran and excitedly announced his plans to experiment on sturdy warriors such as them. His face was instantly recognizable to Polycarp, who had a flashback of a goliath named Keothi being murdered in the desert by the very same gnome. With that information, Polycarp also recognized the undead hulk as a mutated Keothi. While Camden attempted to escape through thievery and Argoth summoned his sword from another room, Polycarp went into a trance and drew the body of the undead hulk through several walls and down upon the surprised necromancer. Murderer and murdered disappeared together under a rain of falling debris, and Camden found a pulsing crystal locked in the gnome’s desk.

The companions recover their equipment from a storage room, and find other confiscated prisoner possessions as well, including a ring bearing the crest of the royal house of Barfield . They search for Charlie and find him panting at the entrance to a deep oubliette pit. He explains that he thought he heard someone down there, but was unable to get down very far because strong winds are making the ladder quite treacherous.

Thinking their quest (to rescue Charlie and defeat Ysuran) is complete, the heroes return to Sir Lexington for their reward, but he prepares to attack them when his frustration grows at remaining in this state of tortured undeath. Polycarp theorizes that he still exists either because his quest is unfinished (to free prisoners wrongfully reassigned by Ysuran) or because his creator is still alive.

Hoping to find surviving prisoners, the Gatekeepers return to the Oubliette, and Camden is able to perform a ritual with his storm magic to help them brave the elements. While Charlie operates the mechanical bridge mechanism, they explore the deepest cave and discover an unconscious prisoner. They do what they can to feed and bandage him, but while they are carrying his body back across the breach, they are blown into the chasm.

They survive the fall because of the uncanny updraft and find themselves in an underground cavern steaming with magma. In the center of the cavern, Ysuran is found to be still “alive” and conducting a ritual over an ancient sarcophagus. At his command, shapes begin to form in the magma and approach to attack.

While the Gatekeepers fend off aggressive magma monsters, Ysuran’s strange ritual seems to have an effect on the ruby Polycarp now carries. It sheds powerful light throughout the room, which awakens their rescued prisoner. This man, Calumnior, seems strangely revitalized somehow, though he appears to have lost all his memories. Calumnior joins the fight on the side of the Gatekeepers, using a catch of supplies hidden near the sarcophagus to fire vicious arrows into the enemy while healing his allies with warlord inspiration.

Polycarp boldly declares his oath to bring Ysuran to justice and interrupts the gnome’s necromantic ritual. Both his frost-hammer and radiant power seem changed, however, into a purple light, and Ysuran shrugs off many of his blows. The necromancer forces his will over Argoth driving him into a suicidal charge against his comrade, but Calumnior saves is able to heal him in time to escape the burning lava. With the help of his fellow warriors, Polycarp overcomes the murderer of Keothi, though he himself is almost overwhelmed by an insatiable battle-lust.

After the battle, Polycarp realizes that the pulsing ruby has been imbuing him with necrotic energy and affecting his mood as well. Disgusted, he throws it in the lava, but it remains unharmed and though it burns him, he retrieves his cursed burden.

Investigating the sarcophagus, they detect no magic, but they find the tomb empty and the bust on the lid matches Polycarp’s identically. The tomb is ancient, but the stone chair beside it appears older still.

Charlie throws down a rope and they search the prison for survivors, but find none. Returning to Sir Lex, he thanks them for allowing him to rest in peace, giving Argoth his enchanted sword. Bowing before Calimnior, he says “I am sorry, sir, that I could not shield you from this nightmare. If there be justice in this world, may you unseat those who have done this to you, and be restored.” With that, the warden falls to the ground and moves no more.

Upon leaving, they meet with Magnus who thanks them with a heavy heart, and a heavy purse. He had heard of Ysuran, a silver-tongued mage who he suspects had help from contacts in high places to secure his position in the prison. He had heard of Ravenhammer as well, but only in children’s stories. He promises to investigate the caverns below Watchpeak, and to turn every stone in search of Duke Cedric, whose ring they found.

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JGrant

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