The Skeletons of Scarwall

Castle Scarwall

The long trip northwards to Castle Scarwall, accompanied by Laori, Sail and their silent bodyguard, was uneventful. Some two weeks after leavin Kaer Maga, the Party found themselves heading up the side of a dormant volcano. They were following a weathered track that had once been a road heading toward the crater.
Castle Scarwall
Looking down into the crater the Party could see below them alake in the centre of which was the castle, seemingly in fine conditon despite being abandoned long ago! A ruined barbican on the shore guarded a long causway which swept out across the lake filling the crater to the island in the centre on which the castle was built and looking down Halleth spotted some movement in the ruins. Moving forward down the path they reached the ruins only to come under attack by orcs. These were no ordinary orcs, proving to be seasoned fighters, but eventually the Party manged to cut them down.

The headed towards the causeway where two leering gargoyles flanked an arch at the entrance. As Tordale stepped onto the causeway whirling vortex of what seemed to be undead spirits, manifested in front of him ripping the spirit of Zellara out from her harrow deck and attempting to draw her in. Tordale retreated off the causeway and the angry spirtis faded.

After a brief discussion, Halleth and Behazad began crossing hte causeway tentatively while Tordale tried to bypass the angry maelstrom of sprits by using dimension door - taking Garrid, Gaweth and Dellosia with him. As they appeared at the far end of the causeway however, the angry spirits manifested again, once more drawing Zellaria from her deck!

More ominously the portcullis guarding the castle began to raise!

The First Foray to Scarwall

As a squad of skeletal warriors marched out from within the castle, Tordale cast dimension door to remove himself and Zellara from the fray. While the others, shrugged off the effects of the aura of undeath the shrouded the castle and readied for battle, Tordale realised the spirit of their friend was uniquely vulnerable to the hungry undead that haunted the castle, and to protect her from them he sought a safe hiding place for the harrow deck.

As the skeletal warrior marched forward, their commander mounted on a nightmare steed rode behind them. Though he found it strangely difficult, Garrid channelled energy, destroying many of them. As the surviving skeletons charged forward to attack, Gawedd faced-off against the commander. While the other took care of the remaining skeletons, Gawedd slew their commander's steed with a serious of mighty blows, leaving him dismounted and enabling the Party to surround him, eventually reducing him to a pile of dust and rusty armour. As combat faded and Tordale returned Garrid noted that as he tried to heal his friends that it was more difficult than normal to cast healing magic, but eventually they were ready to move on.

Beyond the portcullis was a long corridor, filled with ancient orc bones. Arrow-slits lined the walls on either side and another portcullis blocked a huge set of double doors at the far end. Moving forward they came under attack by large crossbow bolts as the Party struggled to lift the heavy portcullis, though Tordale, sensibly, simply bypassed it using his magic. Garrid, Behzad and Dellosia took a few hits from crossbow bolts, but once they had managed to lift the portcullis enough to slip under the attacks suddenly stopped!

Halleth was able to pick the lock on the doors to reveal the scene in the large chamber beyond to be stomach-turning. Bodies lay everywhere, orc and human alike. Judging by the sprawled and mutilated nature of the corpses, they fought brutally before succumbing to their wounds, dying in heaps on the floor. Many corpses were riddled with arrows and crossbow bolts, and a few appear to have perished while locked in mortal combat and still held weapons embedded in various parts of each other’s anatomy. Strangely, while the room reeked of death, the bloodstains on the walls and floor seemed incredibly ancient.

Moving in, Gawedd was attacked by a corpse orgy, which briefly proved troublesome before finally succumbing, mainly  to Dellosia and Garrid's magic.

Mandravius the Lost

Moving forward the party were stymied for a while by the fact the doors exiting this room were barred. After spending sone time futilely trying to bash them down, Gawedd eventually used a potion of gaseous form to get to the other side and remove the bar.Mandravius the Lost

Tattered bits of ruined tapestries lined the walls of this hallway—wispy filaments of rotting cloth that hung limp and forgotten. Ancient bones from scattered skeletons lay on the floor amid bits of broken weaponry and armour. Only one skeleton seemed to remain whole, slumped against the northeastern corner, clad in dust-caked full plate armour.

As the others trooped through,t hey Party were confronted by a hideous vision as the hall filled with a cacophony of clashing weapons and battle cries intermingled with the screams of the dead and dying. Individual words were impossible to discern, but as the sounds reached a crescendo of violence, smoky black shapes boiled up out of the bones and swirl into a vortex of angry shrieking spirits. The wailing of these spirits was enough to drive Behzad to temporary madness.

As the vortex collapsed, a towering smoky form rose from the plate-mail-clad bones in the corner. Two yellow eyes glowed deep inside the sockets of its skull-like face - a wraith! As he lunged at Gawedd, he shrieked, “You shall not have Serithtial! It is mine and no other’s!” As his friends rallied to his aid and battle raged Gawedd found his ghost touch armour was strangely ineffective against the wraith's attacks, but eventually the wraith was destroyed.

Garrid healed those he could before Halleth chose the western exit from the hallway, revealing a nondescript corridor has arrow slits spaced along one wall, looking out into the main keep’s entry corridor. Human bodies in chain shirts lay on the floor among the broken remains of shortbows and quivers of arrows. Curls of yellow smoke wafted among the bones and ruined weapons.

Halleth moved cautiously forward followed by the others - except Gawedd who somewhat uncharacteristically held back. The yellow mist then welled up engulfing the corridor, burning those within with a combination of acid and negative energy. As the rest of the Party retreated backwards, seeing skeletal figures rising in the mist, Gawedd slammed the door shut, but the yellow mist seemed beneath it, half filling the large hallway. Behzad and Dellosai  succumbed to the trench  mist, Garrid channelled energy in an effort to save them, dragging Dellosia out of the mist. Unfortunately the mist simply rolled over them again!

As Gawedd and Halleth desperately launched attacks at the mist, Garrid channelled energy, once more, this time targeting their enemies. Although the channelling had no impact on the mist, it instantly slew the juju-zombied lurking within it. Eventually Gawedd and Halleth's attacks managed to destroy the trench mist, but it was too late for Dellosia and Behzad, both of whom were dead. Garrid had a scroll of resurrection and there was some discussion about whom to use it on until Laori offered to use speak to dead to confirm whether the slain were willing to return, finding that only Behzad was!

Once Behzad was returned to life, the moved on eventually ending up in what had been the castle's kitchens where four cinder ghouls were quickly disposed of.

Death and Despair

After resting for a while and lamenting the loss of Dellosia,  the Party were surprised when a tall slender elf walked into the room introducing himself as Variel. He explained that Cressida and the leaders of the Resistance back in Korvosa had seen Dellosia's death while scrying on their progress and sent him along as reinforcement.

With this welcome reinforcement, the Party recommenced their exploration of the Castle, first  finding a courtyard guarded by large minotaur skeletons that stood immobile against the wall, deciding to leave them for later they headed into the south-west quadrant of the castle finding some abandoned rooms where they found a spellbook in a hidden drawer. They also found a puzzling warning scrawled on a wall in orcish - “Ukwar Lives—We Die!”

Moving across to the south-west quadrant of the castle they quickly disposed of another trench mist before finding in the room beyond a dead orc who had written in his blood next to him“Beware of Ukwar.”

Gawedd pushed on and opened one of the doors to the rooms beyond coming under attack by an armoured skeletal warrior whose blade dripped in acid. This opponent proved a formidable foe indeed. Gawedd was driven back following an devastating acid blast it unleashed. Tordale struck back, while Variel and Halleth began casting magic missiles. Behzad meanwhile closed while Garrid used his nimbus of light ability and moved closer to threaten the undead warrior. This proved a costly mistake as the warrior, unnerved perhaps by the presence of a good-aligned cleric immediately launched a devastating series of attacks, slaying him instantly. Shocked by the sudden death of their friend the Party rallied and redoubled their attacks, eventually destroying the undead warrior, but not before Behzad too had succumbed to it's deadly assault.

Shocked by this sudden turn of events, Gawedd hoisted the bodies of the slain on his shoulders and the shocked Party retreated to the relative safety of the Barbican. Laori offered to cast speak to dead to determine the wishes of the slain, however neither were keen to return to the fray.

The Second Foray to Scarwall 

While the Party mourned the loss of their friends and completed what burial rites they could muster, they were approached a by a shoanti shaman who introduced himself as Halstan Pure-wolf, sent by the tribe to provide spiritual guidance to Gawedd, it's newest member. While they were discussing their next steps, Quinn (immediately dubbed "The Mighty" by Tordale), a paladin sent by Cressida as further reinforcement, teleported in to join them.

Moving cautiously across the causeway, fortunately without incident the party discovered that the portcullis and main gates were both closed! It took a considerable amount of time and effort to get through the two setts of gates and portcullises, not to mention dodging sporadic attacks from the hidden crossbow wielders firing at them from various arrow slits- nut only Halleth was actually hit. Eventually they finally made it through the obstacles. Tordale meanwhile had taken an potion of gaseous form and scouted ahead locating the  mechanism for the portcullises on the level above and noting it was guarded by six minotaur skeletons carting great-axes.

After searching the area where Behzad and Garrid had fallen, they headed up up to the next level and attacked the  guards, Variel tossing fireballs around while the others closed to combat. Things were complicated slightly when three shadows emerged out of the floor and joined the battle, but in short order the Party were triumphant and secured the area.

The Chained Spirit

Moving northwards deeper into the second floor the of Scarwall, the Party passed several relatively innocuous haunts without mishap before stumbling into the castle's Great Hall. Thick wooden columns, their Spectresides caked with dust, supported the ceiling. Between them, in the centre of the room, sat a large fire pit, its ashes long cold. Many old stains marred the floor, some surely of spilled food and ale, though several darker ones appear more grisly in origin. At the western end of the hall, a wide dais rose where the lord’s table could be set to oversee affairs in the hall. In the centre of the dais was a great chair carved of oak and studded with iron rivets. Down one step and to the left of it was a smaller, less elaborate chair of oak.

As Gawedd led the way confidently into the room as a humanoid figure manifested over the fire pit, it's body faded into mist below the hips, while its upper, ghostly torso was bound in lengths of writhing chains. As Gawedd approached it lashed out with one of it's chains striking him with a strange coldness. As the rest of his friends deployed into the room to help they were assailed by spectres manifesting around them.

An epic battle ensued the Party initially struggling against their incorporeal energy draining foes. While Variel tossed spells, Quinn and Halleth dealt with most of the spectres before moving to support Gawedd, while Halstan struggled to keep everyone alive! Eventually the Party bruised, battered and considerably down on spells and healing were able to catch their breath  as their foes were vanquished. However, as Halstan sat on the dais he noticed with horror what looked like the chained spirit reforming over the fire pit!

Realising they were in no condition to continue, the battle the Party made a strategic withdrawal, however, looking for somewhere to rest, Quinn wandered into a nest of geists in a nearby room and battle once more was joined!

The Iron Statue

Eventually the Party managed to destroy or drive off the geists, but it was a close-cut thing, the ghost-touch weapons and armour provided by the shoanti ritual proving decisive. They decided to rest in the room they had cleared, Variel cast a Tiny Hut spell and they huddled within. Gawedd found that rest eluded him that night, the oppressive atmosphere of the castle disturbing him even though the night  was uneventful, save for a passing guard patrol that strangely ignored them. Seeing the state their friend was in the Party suggested a further period of rest, but it was to no avail and eventually Quinn resorted in lay on hands to remove the elf's fatigue.

Moving through the second floor they came to a large iron bound door, that unlike most of the doors in Castle Scarwall was actually locked! After several attempts Halleth managed to open the door to reveal ruined armoury in the corner of which stood a statue of Kazavon carved from iron. Tordale cast detect magic, identifying a powerful magic source in a ruined cabinet near the statue. Quinn stepped into the room, but the iron statue lurched forward and exhaled a cloud of poisonous gas towards him. As the paladin hastily retreated Tordale realised they were confronted by an iron golem which strode forward and slammed the door. While a plan was hatched to deal with the golem, a bored Gawedd wandered off to explore nearby rooms, Halstan trailing along after him to make sure he didn't get into to much trouble.

The plan devised was fiendishly simple. Supported by an earth elemental summoned by Variel Quinn would go into the room again while Tordale used his magic to dash in and seize the magic item. Once Halleth unlocked the door again, Tordale's part of the plan was executed flawlessly, however Quinn's did not go so well and due to the worst ill-fortune the paladin was pounded  to a pulp. Fortunately Variel instructed the earth elemental, which the golem was  ignoring to retrieve the paladin's body. While Tordale admired the magic longbow he had retrieved Halstan cast Reincarnate on Quinn.

It took a little while for the paladin to get used to the fact of being in a new body, but eventually the Party, urged on by an increasingly impatient Gawedd, moved on. They found a waiting room where some of them became overwhelmed for a brief moment by the conviction that they had come to plead for mercy from Kazavon, but knew the warlord will not grant it. This was followed a heartbeat later by an urge to commit suicide by leaping from the castle walls. This phantasm passed quickly, but left those affected disturbed nonetheless.

Gawedd meanwhile, Halstan in tow,  had wandered off down a corridor and disturbed a Scarwall Guard at  his post who immediately began ringing an alarm bell!

The Donjon

Though Gawedd swiftly despatched the Scarwall guard, the ringing bell summoned several of the nearby denizens of the castle Scarwall - some spectres and a brief visit by the chained spirit they had fought the day before. The spectres were eventually slain, though Halstan was severely energy-drained by them. The shaman recovered the energy drain with a restoration,  but had lost much of his armoury of spells.

The Party headed out through a nearby door which led out out to the western parapet of the castle. This parapet offered a haunting view of the crater lake and the ragged cliffs beyond. The parapet was covered in an unhealthy looking green lichen that, although harmless, made the footing treacherous - as Quinn soon found out!

MIgnorcThere was a doorway that opened on to a staircase that led down into the western wing of the castle, but the Party chose to edge round  the parapet to a large courtyard inn front of the donjon. As the approached Halleth noted that the architecture of the donjon more resembled a cathedral than a central fortification. There was what looked like it had once been a side entrance that had been covered in stone and a set of stairs that led up to the main entrance. This bronze double door was so tarnished that it appeared almost black. Gruesome images of devils and priests cavorting among the corpses and tortured souls of the damned were cast in bas-relief on its exterior. A skull and spiked chain overlooked the entire scene from the centre of the doors. A heavy wheel is set into the centre of each door, presumably a method of opening them. However as Halleth tried she noticed that the stone door jamb had been magically altered (via stone shape) to form a seal around the edges of the doors. The central seam had likewise been sealed with lead. Someone had not wanted whether was in the donjon getting out!

Deciding they were not going to get through the huge bronze doors, they went to investigate the blocked side entrance where with a combination of stone shape for Halstan and brute force from Quinn and Gawedd, they managed to force entrance. A forbiddance spell cast over the donjon caused Gawedd some initial issues, and another of the strange phantasms haunting the castle briefly caused Quinn to lock himself in a cell, but eventually they found themselves in an oddly shaped room where they came under attacked by a giant zombie. The zombie was quickly destroyed but Quinn was badly injured in the combat and needed some major healing.

While Quinn was being healed Gawedd wandered through a nearby door which led to a strange room shrouded in writhing shadows. A ten-foot-tall humanoid figure stood motionless deeper in the room. He called for the others to investigate whereupon they immediate came under magical attack!

The Mummy Lord

Quinn followed Gawedd into the room to find his friend paralysed just inside the entrance. He barely had time  to see a shadowy figure moving in the darkness before he felt a touch on his shoulder and was felled by a harm spell. While Halleth dragged the paladin out of the darkness, Halstan moved in to support Gawedd, only to find himself pushed back by the fighter who had recovered from his paralysis, slamming the door behind them.

The Party had scant seconds to catch their breath and offer what healing they could to Quinn before the door opened and they were assailed by a storm of superheated sand from the darkness within. Tordale stepped forward and cast dispel magic on the darkness within to reveal their opponent was a mummy lord. With a partially recovered Quinn shouting out their enemies weaknesses the Party charged in and with Variel and Halleth casting magic missiles, and Halstan keeping everyone alive they managed to destroy the undead after a fearsome battle, it's body dissolving into a pile of sand. Fearful, after Quinn's warning that the mummy lord would eventually rise again, they searched the chapel quickly, finding nothing of interest.

Moving on, they somehow made their way back to the main entrance where a fiendish water elemental lurking in a large font was found and quickly despatched.

In a nearby room however they discovered another nest of wraiths. This proved a costly discovery as Quinn was slain before the undead could be destroyed. Unable to use reincarnate this time due to the method of the paladin's death, the Party asked Laori to help. She gladly offered to return Quinn to life, but the Paladin was unwilling to return courtesy of the auspices of a god like Zon-Kuthon, to whom he was fundamentally opposed .

The Third Foray to Scarwall

The Party decided to rest outside the castle to recuperate and bury Quinn's body, the Party spent a peaceful night. Their rest was  interrupted only just after dawn when an armour-clad dwarf teleported into the camp. The dwarf introduced himself to Variel, who was on watch, as Wulff Greyhelm, telling him he had been sent by Cressida to help. 

Variel woke the others, but the introductions to their new companion were rudely interrupted when the armour they had buried nearby, erupted out of the ground nearby and attacked. In a furious assault Variel was almost killed by  a couple of blows. Eventually the Party with Wulff's assistance managed to destroy it again. While the party pondered what to do next, Sial advised Halstan that the "armor" was fact a strange undead known as a "graveknight" and would simply regenerate unless it was completed destroyed. He advisde there was only a handful of known ways to achieve that, all of which were currently beyond the Party's means! 

Eventually, Wulff summoned a hound archon to take the armour as far away as it could!

Returning to Scarwall, they made their way through the ground floor for the third time and Wulff received his first introduction to the strange phantasms that haunted the place. Once the phansams effect had faded, Gawedd led the Party to the large chamber guarded by minotaur skeletons they had seen a couple of days ago. After a quick assault, the guards there were easily destroyed. In an abandoned workshop nearby, Gawedd sprung a trap which released three malevolent spirits that proved briefly more troublesome before also being destroyed.

The Second Chain

Quickly disposing of the last of the polongs the Party searched the surrounding rooms, finding a ruined wine cellar and a captive halfling woman called Alimae who told them she had been snatched from her far-off  village by a dragon on behalf of a hag who needed a herbalist to work with her on developing potions. Alimae seemed extremely reluctant to leave the room while the hag and especially the dragon were still a threat.

BelshallamLeaving her there, the Party quickly slew the remaining guards at the double doors in the corridor. This did not take long as both were already badly wounded courtesy of Variel's magic, and it only took a single blow each from Tordale and Gawedd to despatch them. The doors led them out to the courtyard outside the donjon they had briefly visited yesterday. This time rather than revisit the forbidding looking donjon, they decided to explore the other exits from the courtyard. Remembering the rhyme, they headed first for what looked like a large stable-block or kennels. Opening the large doors and peering into the darkness within  Halleth discovered it was also being used by a dragon for it's lair!

Overcoming the dragon's frightful presence Tordale and  Variel both cast spells into the shadows, but the dragon evaded them by shadow walking out into the courtyard attacking with it's breath weapon. Wulff and Gawedd immediately charged in to attack and battle was joined. It was a close run thing, but helped by Tordale managing to temporarily blind the dragon, the Party soon got the upper hand.

Badly wounded from the fight, the dragon tried to flee up into the air, but pursued by Tordale and threatened by his magic the dragon realising he was outmatched surrendered offering them the pick of it's horde in exchange for its life. While Wulff healed those he could, the dragon, who introduced himself as Belshallam, told them that he was a relatively recent arrival at Scarwall. He had come in search of treasure, but had fallen foul of Mithrodar who had bound him to remain with his chains. He could range no more than a few miles from the castle to hunt before being compelled back.

The magic users in the Party discussed for some time how they might free the dragon from his bonds, and eventually  Wulff cast a divination receiving the advice to
"Grant freedom, Break the law,
Remove the evil,Make a wish,
Pray for a miracle!"

The Second Chain Broken

While the party rested, the debate cpntinued about what to do about Belshallam who slept peacefully nearby on his hoard. Various plans were hatched and discarded, primarily by Wulff and Tordale,  until eventually it was decided to despatch Tordale off to Kaer Maga with a generous amount of treasure in search of a scroll. When Tordale duly returned, scroll of Wish in hand, the spell was cas. It freed Belhsallam from his bonds and broke the second of Mithrodar's chains, when the dragon rose up, without thanks, and sped off to the north!

Returning to their exploration of the castle and discussion the likely location of the remaining bonded undead, they encountered some tenebrous worms in a corridor leading up to a staircase. Tordale was nearly killed before the worms were despatched but fortunately Wulff and Halstan were nearby to save him with their healing magic.

Gawedd led the way up the stairs into a large chamber where they were ambushed by baykoks. Gawedd and Halleth immediatelt unlimbered their bows and began firing at their flying opponents. The bone arrows from the baykok's bows proved dangerous, but fortunately a series of fireballs from Tordale and Variel soon dealt with their opponents - allowing Halstan and Wulff to heal the wounded.

The War Tower

Exploring the nearby rooms the Party found little of interest save a room where they were attacked by a stuffed wyvern! 

The wyvern was possessed by a dybbuk, who briefly proved troublesome badly injuring Wulff before it was destroyed. Exploring the ramparts nearby Wulff found a magic hammer in a long-abandoned forge -  which Gawedd claimed. The Party then turned their attention to a squat hexagonal tower nearby. 

The door to this tower was iron-bound and was secured by a complex lock, however this proved little impediment to Halleth and they quickly moved in. On one of the upper floors they found and destroyed a juju-zombie orc, wielding another magical hammer . Halleth also discovered a cursed scroll, which while giving her visions of a man taking a gleaming sword deep into caverns beneath the fortress, also cursed her to crawl on her belly unable to walk. Tordale tried to remove the curse but his efforts were in vain.

They decided to rest here and spent a few uncomfortable days trying to do so until Tordale eventually used dimension door to take them outside the castle, where they could rest peacefully. Eventually after multiple attempts by Tordale and Wulff they managed also to remove the curse on Halleth, after which they returned to the War Tower.

A Very Bad Day in Castle Scarwall

Heading upwards to the uppermost layer of the War Tower the Party disposed of a few spectres and emerged onto the  top of the octagonal tower gave a breathtaking view of the crater lake and the stark walls of the volcanic cliffs beyond. The area was dominated by three crumbled and ruined siege engines—a pair of catapults and a ballista.

Returning back downstairs they Party pondered their next move and after some debate, made the fateful decision to revisit the donjon and locate whatever had been sealed in there all those years ago. Their search led them to a vast Demilichchamber, floored in gray slate and supported by thick pillars of obsidian. Torches mounted on the pillars burned, yet their flames were strangely dim, barely lighting the cathedral-like space. White pinpoints of light seemed to dance
in the eye sockets of each skull that decorated the pillars. To the north-west, a tall statue of a skull-headed man dressed in dark robes stood behind a black marble altar, on which lay heaped mounds of ashes, bits of bone, and a single skull, its teeth and eye sockets set with glittering gemstones. Jagged, barbed chains dangled from the statue’s eye sockets. Thick black curtains hung from the chamber’s walls.

Confidently Gawedd led the way in, but as he approached the altar the bejewelled skull rose into the air and emitted a hideous wail. As those within the room staggered under it's effects, Wulff dropping to the floor near death, the bejewelled skull turned it's fiery gaze on Gawedd who staggered once more, as the demilich ripped his soul from his body, his soulless body fell, corrupting and decayed rapidly, reducing to dust.

Healing Wulff, Halstan warned the others that this was a demilich and began shouting out rapidly what he knew of the fearsome undead. Variel began hurling spells at the skull - to little effect, while Tordale used his magical abilities to make his sword vorpal and charged forward striking the skull  with a mighty blow. Halleth realising there was nothing she could do, moved back to the door calling for the Party to regroup. As Wulff rose to his feet gripping his hammer and charging forward, the demilich's gaze turned to Halstan who instantly crumbled to dust as his soul too was ripped from it's body. Tordale was next to fall, allowing Wulff one single mighty blow - which did little damage, before he too succumbed. Variel, seeing little option, fled with Halleth, Sial and Laori, taking refuge elsewhere in the castle, far from the donjon.