Friday, October 2, 2015

The Saga of Majenko Part Six: The Raid on Castle Scarwall!

When last we left our intrepid entourage as they escorted the great and powerful Majenko toward his destiny, they had fled the city of Korvosa, and discovered the queen was possessed by the spirit of an ancient evil named Kasavon. They ventured into the Cinderlands to find important information from the Shoanti, but were told it was not knowledge for outsiders. So they tested their bodies, spirits, and patience to complete the rites of membership to join the Shoanti nation. Exhausted, they emerged victorious, and with a temporary pet bulette. Also, in case you're not up on everything that's happened so far, here is the chapter list for the epic saga of Majenko (referred to out of game as Curse of the Crimson Throne).

Part One: Finding The Main Character of "Curse of The Crimson Throne"
Part Two: How Much Damage Could One Pseudodragon Do?
Part Three: Scourge of The Red Mantis
Part Four: Blood Pig Champion
Part Five: Brother to The Shoanti
Part Six: The Assault on Castle Scarwall
Part Seven: The Return to Korvosa
Part Eight: Re-Taking Korvosa
Part Nine: The Assault on Castle Korvosa
Part Ten: Down With The Queen

Go on, we'll wait.
Caught up? Lovely.

Striking Out For Scarwall

Once we've officially been welcomed into the sun tribe, the shaman finally tells us the legend of Kasavon. A powerful servant of Zon Kuthon, he was laid low in a place called Castle Scarwall, an outpost in the Orc Hold of Belkzen. The body had been torn into pieces, and the evil creature's fangs had been buried beneath a ziggurat in a place that, many years later, would be the foundation of Castle Korvosa. The queen had obviously found the fangs, and the remnants of power in them had taken over her body and soul. In order to challenge that creature we would need to climb the death-haunted walls of Castle Scarwall, and seek the legendary sword blessed by Iomedae herself that had first laid the creature low.

And then we were attacked. A flock of gargoyles, a team of Red Mantis assassins, and a serial killer who'd been hunting Shoanti scalps all show up to crash our party. Fortunately we had our big, gray, peanut loving Shep with us, and we'd had time to recover from the previous day's exertions. Our assailants weren't long for this world.

Especially this guy. Fuck this guy.
With the next leg of our journey clearly in front of us, and our very presence causing our newly adopted family harm, we headed out immediately. Due to player moving plans our cleric bowed out at the city of Kaer Maga, replaced by a new, militant cleric of Iomedae named Validia; a tiefling whom Egil had known back in Egorian when they'd both been raised in a state-funded orphanage. We also ran into our old friend Leori, and an equal-but-different member of her church, Shadow Count Sial. It seems that the dread lord Zon-Kuthon has an interest in the remnants of Castle Scarwall as well, but his minions are not powerful enough to enter it alone. So we agree that, despite our mutual differences, we'll work together in this matter. We also managed to acquire a ranger, whose specialty, funnily enough, was in taking the un out of the undead.


Unexpected Tactics

Castle Scarwall was built on an island, and several outbuildings near the edge of the bridge were inhabited by a rough and ready gang of orc raiders. Bold enough to come within sight of Scarwall, but not stupid enough to try and cross its moat. They gave us a rough time, but when all was said and done we managed to come out of things with a trove of heavy armor, some scrolls, and a fully-armed necklace of fireballs.

We had a feeling that was going to come in handy.

Shake and bake, baby.
So, bold as brass, we decide to walk right across the bridge. A welcoming party comes to greet us; a horde of skeletons led by a champion mounted on a terrible, nightmarish charger. A web spell held back the cannon fodder, and though he charged through and dealt several, wicked blows, the champion went down hard when our fighter smashed her gauntleted fist through his mount's skull. Leori was sad that she didn't get a chance to ride the pretty pony, but we dispatched the rest of the minions in short order.

Behind them was a heavy door, arrow slits, and a lot of resistance. So, we decided to just sort of bypass all of that.

The Power of The Unexpected

We had a fairly magic-heavy party, between the magus, the cleric, the ranger, and the two NPC clerics. Slogging through heavy defenses was for lesser adventurers. So Egil popped the cork on his bottle of endless smoke, settled his fogcutter lenses onto his face, and led the way up over the walls.

Of course we all prepared some version of fly. What combat situation is not improved by your ability to do it in three dimensions?

You can't always have one of these in your bag of holding.
We fought some gargoyles, and thought we were being pretty clever... but because we'd come in aerially, it also meant we had to fight the shadow dragon. We hadn't been prepared for that, precisely, but we certainly couldn't outrun the damn thing, so it was pedal to the floor and hope we hurt it more than it hurt us.

We did. Barely, but we did. It took the biggest fireball from our necklace straight to the face, got filled full of arrows from the ranger (who was shooting at a handicap due to a lack of favored enemy), and only about half of Egil's spells were making it through the thing's thick spell resistance. However, the orc champion we'd killed happened to be carrying a dragonbane greatsword, and in the hands of our fighter, it carved a big hole through the dragon in quite a hurry.

It still nearly killed us... but we didn't have to go in through the front door.

Rinse, Lather, Repeat

The dragon was one of several guardians anchored to Castle Scarwall, which we'd had described to us in a poem from the nice Varisian ghost who'd followed us around in a possessed deck of cards. Each one of the guardians had their own schtick, and we discovered each of them was physically bound to a part of the castle. Convenient in that they couldn't all mob us, but with ancient protections laid down in blood and blasphemy, it took one of our two constantly-bickering NPCs to let us through a lot of the doors. We went toe-to-toe with a demi-lich, destroyed a skeletal commander, and in between bouts wiped out dozens of ghosts and hordes of skeletons. There was even a devil, relegated to service and trapped until we moved it along. Then, once the anchors were jerked out of the way, we fought the huge ghost in the center of Scarwall that was keeping the pile of stones and bones apart from the ravages of time.

This led us down a well. And in the well, we found a plot devil.

Story toll. That will be two evil NPCs, please.
Leori and the Shadow Count are being "promoted" by Zon Kuthon, yanked into the Midnight Lord's twilight realm. We had to go on alone... which we did. We dropped down a hole, fought several gugs (H.P. Lovecraft fans will know what I'm talking about), and just as we're catching our breaths we're confronted with a colossal abomination; the final guardian between us and the sword Syrithtiel.

Or at least it was, until Egil used vanish to make Majenko invisible, and he sped across the roiling lake to snatch the sword. He took a swipe at the guardian, failed, and then ducked and dodged his way through flailing limbs and tendrils to toss the blade to the ranger. With the relic in our possession, we go all out to end this thing's stewardship of the cursed castle.

It was a near thing... but we managed.

What happened next? Tune in next time for the seventh installment, "Return to Korvosa"! If you want to make sure you keep getting all of Improved Initiative's updates, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. If you'd like to help support the blog, then click right here to visit my Patreon page!

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