Broken Moon

In Memory of Deborah

The ectoplasmic beings soundly defeated, the party continued their exploration west into Harrowstone’s basement proper. Tataco, scouting ahead, reported that the room ahead was host to a large group of skeletons, 10 in total, who would surely attack upon catching sight of the adventurers. Yuuko and Banjo stepped forward to the entryway, forming a bottleneck, and braced themselves as the swarm of undead fell upon them.
With Yuuko crushing with her three-section staff, Caeller firing with his pistol, and banjo batting at the skeletons with his bear paws, their tactic served admirably, and soon all of the remaining skeletons were clustered around the mouth of the tunnel. His holy amulet flashing with divine power, Sir Bearingston let loose a burst of positive energy that seared the unlife from the remainder, causing them to clatter to the ground even as it healed the wounds of his allies.
The room they had entered was spacious, the crumbled remnants of a collapsed stairway dominating the center. Three hallways led in each direction of the compass, labeled “The Nevermore” to the south, “Hell’s Basement” to the west, and “The Oubliette” to the north. None of the choices sounding particularly appealing, Tataco once again participated in some scouting, discovering large portcullises blocking both the southern and the western hallways, each one seeming to lead into a cell block of sorts.
A small guard room in the south hallway held a chain winch presumably for operating the gate outside, but it was jammed and rusted into uselessness by the passing of years. Assuming that there would be a similar winch in the western hall, Tataco set about exploring the guard room on that side, but was accosted by a grisly sight. As he stepped into the guard room to Hell’s Basement, the rest of the party not far behind him, the half-elf was struck by a splitting headache, and saw upon the table in front of him a set of skulls, each one with a piece carefully removed. In the center of the ring of skulls was another lump of bone, as if someone had tried to build a new skull from the fragments of the others. Completing the scene was the body of a red-haired dwarf slumped in the corner, his skin emaciated and leathery and his eyes empty sockets.
No sooner had Tataco taken this all in than the skulls animated and rose off the table, cackling and spinning as they lit into flame. At the same time, a ghostly figure rose from the dwarf’s body, a large hammer gripped in its meaty hands and a madly dancing spectral skull floating in the air behind it. Though a disturbing display, neither the skulls nor the ghost proved to be any threat to the party. As each of the flaming skulls was easily dispatched, the ghost clutched his head, screaming in pain, until, with the crushing of the last foe, he finally dissolved into nothingness.
After having vanquished the Marauder, a quick search of the room revealed a secret door to the south. Tataco’s deft fingers were able to pick the lock, and the door swung open upon a stash of masterwork weapons, armor, and magical items left by the guards. Of particular note was a magical rope of climbing, which the guards would presumably use in the event of the elevator to the basement breaking.
Heartened by their discovery, the group continued westward into Hell’s Basement, in which they discovered row upon row of cell blocks, all of them empty save for a few rotting mattresses. To the south, they discovered a large torture chamber, still holding a variety of rusted instruments of terror. Stretched out upon a rack in the center was the dessicated corpse of a guard, the still-shining badge on his chest proclaiming him the warden. It would appear that the prisoners had brought him here and tortured him to death after he was trapped by the fire so many years ago. Tataco solemnly pocketed the badge and continued on.
As the half-elf moved on from the guard, a blackened iron maiden in the southern part of the room ominously creaked open, revealing Banjo impaled horrifically on row upon row of wicked metal spikes. The bear’s tiny paw reached out in supplication even as Tataco vaulted the rack and rushed to his deity’s aid. No sooner had he reached the iron maiden, however, than he was drawn in by some malign force, and the huge metal doors closed upon him. Pain shot through Taco’s body as choice places on his body were impaled by dozens of phantom spikes, drawing the very vitality from his form. When the doors opened again, the clustered party saw Tataco in a conspicuously empty iron maiden, devoid of any spikes, bloodless puncture wounds dotting his pale skin.
Despite the ranger’s ailment, the group pressed onward, finding a secret door to the east which led into an earthen tunnel and, presumably, to the Nevermore on the other side. Having a deep mistrust of tunnels, they proceeded cautiously, Yuuko bringing up the front with Tataco just behind. Their wariness was justified, as Taco identified a slick-looking boulder in the center of the tunnel as a concealed Gray Ooze, a predator which camouflaged itself as nearby scenery to wait in anticipation of prey. Knowing the ooze’s area of action, the ranger was able to guide the rest of the party in a skirting path around the edge of the tunnel that kept them safely out of range of its pseudopods.
The tunnel opened into one of the cells ringing a deep, black pool of water in the center of the Nevermore. As the party entered, a palpable sense of dread washed over them, even as the walls began seeping blood. Parva and Dekhaim were stricken by a conviction that the blood was stealing their sanity, as the letters P and D began forming among the red liquid. As they began to panic, Banjo drew forth from his bear stuff a bottle of holy water and hurled it at the letter, crushing the vial and smearing the letter. Immediately, the aura of dread lessened, and so the party repeated the process, slamming another vial into the other letter and smearing that one as well.
As the letter faded into a bloody splotch on the wall, a scream of rage echoed throughout the Nevermore and a ghostly light began building at the bottom of the pool, rushing upward and growing brighter as it came. Dekhaim had the presence of mind to call upon his allies in nature and summon a dolphin into the pool even as the water burst forth and revealed a haunting figure dressed in white robes and wielding a bloody razor.
The Splatter Man countered with his own summon, calling forth a group of abnormally large rats to harry and bite at the edges of the party. Tataco, pulling a magical undead-bane arrow from his quiver, unleashed a shot at the ghost, missing by only a few inches. His attack did not go unnoticed, however, and he was rewarded with a blast of four force missiles from the Splatter Man’s hands which battered him repeatedly. In concert with the curse put upon him by the iron maiden, the damage was enough to knock the half-elf unconscious onto the floor.
Meanwhile, Kendra had cannily noticed that the Splatter Man could not seem to determine the origin of the acid orb she had hurled at him, his eyes scanning the room and passing over her without stopping. Realizing the connection, she brought forth the ghost’s spellbook and, in a leap of deduction, ripped from it a handful of pages. The wizard screamed as a matching series of cuts and gashes networked their way across his ghostly skin, and Kendra smiled in grim gratification.
Yuuko, Dekhaim, and Parva had hatched their own plan while Banjo moved to heal the prone Tataco. First, the dolphin, which had been unable to damage the ghost’s spectral form on its own, dove deep into the pool, turning around and building speed to splash out of the water in a leap that would send it hurtling toward the Splatter Man. Yuuko, wielding the Lopper’s axe, leaped upon the dolphin’s back as it emerged, riding it upward in an arc toward the ghost hovering over the water. As the two came close to their target, Parva lobbed a bomb, which, upon striking the dolphin, exploded violently, the force sending Yuuko tearing through the Splatter Man’s form, the Lopper’s axe cutting a bloody swathe through his robes and chest. She then landed safely on the other side of the pool, even as Deborah’s limp form, so named in honor of her sacrifice, fell lifelessly into the water behind her.
Conscious again thanks to the bear’s ministrations, Tataco set about shooting at the rats which still bit ravenously at the party’s ankles. At the same time, Kendra ripped another page from the spellbook, bringing the ghost to the brink of destruction. Sensing his opportunity, Parva opened a haunt siphon. With a roaring of spectral winds, the Splatter Man twisted and squirmed in the air as he was drawn inexorably into the device. With a final click, all sound died away and the haunt siphon began to glow an eerie blue. The Splatter Man was vanquished, and Parva had caught his first ghost.
With the resident haunt defeated, the portcullis leading back into the main cell block rose soundlessly. Although battered and tired from their battles up to this point, the party only had one more ghost to bust, and so decided to wait on resting until the Lopper was defeated as well. The only hallway not yet explored was the Oubliette to the north, and it too was blocked by a portcullis, presumably controlled from the guard room to the west.
This guard room, unlike the others, was locked, and Tataco quickly found out why as something on the other side began pounding at the door when he approached. It quickly became apparent that someone, or something inside was attempting to break through the wooden portal with an axe. Taco stepped back and nocked an arrow as Yuuko and Banjo flanked the door, readying their weapons and claws respectively. Not seconds after, the door burst off its hinges violently, slamming into the wall opposite as a flaming skeleton, clutching and axe and without a head, stepped out into the hall and began swinging wildly.
Taco loosed his shot and struck home as Yuuko deftly dodged and blocked the skeleton’s clumsy attacks. Despite being unnaturally strong and fast, it appeared that the monster’s missing head did indeed make it blind, and its strikes reflected such. Near the back, Parva recognized the skeleton as one of the burning variety, and cautioned everyone to keep their distance, as such skeletons have a tendency to explode when destroyed.
Heeding the alchemist’s words, Yuuko tripped the creature, then stepped back, Banjo using the opportunity to return to the party as well. As it climbed to its feet, however, Dekhaim could not resist the opportunity, and bludgeoned it forcefully with his staff. The ensuing explosion thrust him back against the wall and burned his blue skin, but did not seriously harm the druid.
With the guard destroyed, the group was able to operate the winch in the guard room and raise the final portcullis. Moving warily, they entered the Oubliette, Yuuko at the head with the Lopper’s axe at the ready.
A wet, slapping sound greeted them as they entered, and the source was soon revealed as two bloody hands found their way to the edge of the oubliette and hoisted up a horrifyingly pale body with a broken leg, a huge smile full of sharp teeth, and a massive axe strapped across his body. The Lopper grinned at Yuuko even as she swung the axe at him. The attack went wide however and Yuuko, not used to using such a different weapon, cut herself across her own arm, causing a bleeding wound.
The Lopper danced with surprising agility around and through the paladin, ignoring her as he moved straight for the rest of the party, bringing his axe down on Dekhaim and opening a spectral wound that began to bleed profusely. The blood from both bleeding parties turned into a malign smoke as soon as it left their bodies, merging with the Lopper’s form and strengthening him even as his smile widened.
The ghost’s merriment was short-lived, however, as Yuuko called upon her divine powers to heal herself and rushed at the Lopper’s back. His own axe cleaved a wide gash in his back even as a magical arrow from Tataco’s bow tore through his chest. Dekhaim called magical fire to his hands and hurled it at the ghost, igniting him in a spectral blaze and eliciting and unexpected reaction. Upon catching fire, the Lopper immediately dropped his axe and ran the the corner, covering his head with his hands and cowering as he rocked back and forth.
Although shocked and somewhat disturbed by this performance, Yuuko hesitated only a moment before bringing the axe down in a final swing, crushing the Lopper’s skull and dissolving him into nothingness once again.
From there, the party explored the rest of the oubliette, finding many magical items and weapons worth a fortune all together at the bottom, presumably hoarded by the Lopper himself. Their next stop was upstairs, where they delivered the warden’s badge to Vesorianna, for which she thanked them profusely. The group watched as she raised the badge high in the air and it shone with a brilliant light before dropping to the ground, Vesorianna, and all of the other ghosts haunting Harrowstone, gone forever. The badge itself began to glow with an eerie blue light, and Parva was able to identify that it now possessed some peculiar magical qualities, so the party stashed it before returning to town.
After destroying the prison’s ghosts, the group of travellers, so recently distrusted by Ravengro, were hailed as heroes. The townspeople banded together to give them a sizeable reward in gold, and the sheriff and Councilman Hearthmount offered their personal thanks, promising hospitality whenever they might visit the town again.
For her part, Kendra was impressed and inspired by the heroics of the party which had come with her into Harrowstone. She decided to sell the Lorrimor estate and to travel with them to Lepidstadt, so that she might do something more with her life than stay in Ravengro and mourn her lost father. With no reason to stay in town, the group rested for a few days, then began their preparations for the four-day journey to Lepidstadt.

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