They took a minute to catch their collective breath and expend a few valuable healing spells to boost their health. They were headed into the lion’s den. The wizard artist Imron had to be in there somewhere.
Their charge ended abruptly as 3 more weird serving boys surprised them all in the foyer. They stepped from behind curtains and began wailing on them. Pugno and Shokkanaw began tearing into them quickly. They wanted Afarrah to save her dwindling magic. There was also a long golden rope hanging from the ceiling that reached out to grab Shokkanaw, but he avoided its grip. With the servants destroyed and transformed into more piles of black goo, they decided to venture upstairs. The group debated destroying the annoying animated rope first but Shokkanaw told them that was a problem for future Shok!
When they reached the top of the stairs a brawny wild man in leaf armor and wielding a huge axe charged with a scream. He barreled into Shokkanaw and sent the rogue tumbling over the balcony. He deftly landed on his feet but was then smacked in the face, hard, by the animated rope. Future Shok did not take long to get here. While Shokkanaw evaded the rope, Pugno faced off against the wild man. Afarrah tossed flames at him with little effect. Pugno used his training to dodge most of the man’s blows but when they did hit him it really really hurt. Every miss tore holes in the walls or floor. When Pugno blocked a blow with his specially crafted three-section staff the huge axe chopped it into two pieces! There went a thousand gold pieces down the drain. Realizing that the man was severely dangerous, Afarrah summoned a spiritual ally and Pugno focused on damaging him. Still his blows were deadly so they voted to lure him out where they could flank him in the foyer. They pulled back and he did follow, only his method was not the stairs. He leapt from the balcony landing a deep chop on Pugno in the process. Afarrah had to heal the monk quickly to keep him in the fight. Shokkanaw was trying to stay out of reach of the massive axe and used his bow. They damaged the wild man heavily and he turned and fled. Pugno gave chase, dodging past that damn rope. Realizing they all needed to follow, Shokkanaw and Afarrah combined their efforts to fight the rope. Pugno found the wild man healing himself with potions so he took that break to do the same thing. Meanwhile the others still fought that rope with magic and bow. Ultimately, Pugno got tired of waiting and tossed a shuriken, severing and destroying the animated rope once and for all. They converged on the wild man and brought him down. With him out of the way, the search for the missing wizard began. They found another cryptic note but made little headway with it other than becoming more confused.
The party searched every door and hallway of the manor. From rooftop garden, to creepy servant-guarded kitchen, to workshop, to study to dusturbing bedroom, they wandered. They never paused to search any room in particular and only skimmed them visually in search of their quary. There were numerous weird and disturbing paintings throughout the home and plenty of other interesting and expensive decorations to see. Shokkanaw was careful to mention they should not steal anything. That would be wrong.
They wound their way through the manor, peeking in fancy bathrooms and guest rooms plus numerous servants quarters that looked unused for months. Where was this wizard? When they ventured to the basement things got interesting. There was a chamber lined with suits of armor and banners Afarrah named as prominent houses in Absolam’s history. She also pointed out that each of those 8 suits of armor was enchanted. When Pugno tried to sneak across the room unnoticed, he triggered a pressure plate and a large portion of the ceiling fell on him. Buried under the stone, he wriggled free to find all of the armor suits poised to strike with their halberds. Shokkanaw watched from the wings shouting a warning to his maestro. Pugno miraculously dodged two rounds of attacks from the armor with only 1 glancing blow. Afarrah launched a fireball into the room and mostly melted the armor suits. Shokkanaw and Pugno finished off the damaged constructs with Shokkanaw taking a few hits in the process. They needed more healing from Afarrah.
Onward they went, deeper into the basement and found a huge gallery filled with over 50 paintings of all topics. Some were enchanted and others mundane. Both Pugno and Shokkanaw spotted the shadowy figure leaping from painting to painting. Afarrah was preoccupied searching for magic among the pictures. An illusiory wall separated the student from his maestro just before the shadow creature targeted its victim – Shokkanaw. Shokkanaw decided to take the fight to him, charging and striking with his falcion only it passed right through the incorporeal monster with no effect at all. The creature retaliated, dragging a clawed hand across the 1/2 orc’s face. The touch burned cold and left a shadowy handprint that twisted Shok’s features. Pugno raced to the rescue but was not fast enough. Again the creature clawed at Shokkanaw while leaping between paintings and his face became even more twisted and ugly as his charisma was drained away in rakes of pain. Afarrah blasted a section of the wall with fire and damaged several paintings along with the shadow beast, causing it to flee. Pugno gave chase and took note of not only the creature’s new location but also of a painting high on the wall that resembled the thing. He shouted for Afarrah to blast that painting. First he had to point it out to her. She was having a hard time spotting it. She tossed a firebolt at the picture and the creature began to plead with them to stop, promising it would allow them safe passage. That sounded like a pretty good deal to the party. “All day long!” Shok insisted. The creature nodded. “Forever!” Pugno corrected, and shokkanaw repeated “I meant forever!” The creature nodded again in agreement then vanished into the painting. They could see it slowly repairing itself.
From there they moved to a deeper level of the basement and found a most uninteresting storage room filled with mundane supplies, how boring. On an off chance, Pugno decided to search the room for any clues. He found a lever concealed to look like a broom handle. When he moved the lever a large section of the wall and floor swiveled carrying him away to an adjacent chamber. Shokkanaw and Afarrah watched in surprise as he vanished. On the other side of the wall, the maestro found himself facing a life-sized portrait of what he suspected was the wizard, Imron, To one side stood a large clay statue. He called the others through the secret passage and soon they all gazed upon the seated wizard with his crystal ball in hand. Afarrah studied tte chamber with detect magic and told them the painting was definitely magic, strong magic since it stunned her! The statue was magic too. They were annoyed with so much unidentifiable magic in this wizard’s house!
Unsure what to do next, Pugno told Afarrah to touch the painting as he readied to grapple the large statue if it moved. She did and it did and a fight broke out. The statue lurched forward and Pugno tried to grab it but failed to get a good grip. The thing swung wildly punching both Afarrah and Shokkanaw in their faces. Again Pugno called out for them to work together to grapple the statue but even with their help they failed to slow it down so it punched Pugno and Afarrah this time. The large statue’s punches really hurt too. Pugno asked them to unite and give it one more try. The rogue and priestess wiped the blood from their noses and went for it. This time they succeeded but it still hit them again before he was able to pin and drag it to the swiveling part of the floor. Beaten down and bloody the group dragged the struggling statue a few feet to the side. Once it was in place, Shokkanaw kicked the lever and the clay golem guardian swiveled out of the room. They released a collective sigh of relief until they realized they had just trapped themselves in this room with no other exits. Oh well, that was a problem for future them. The pounding on the wall reminded them that they were on borrowed time. Examining the portrait of the wizard only revealed glowing runes … more unknown magic stuff (sigh). So they agreed to let Afarrah try to destroy the painting. Her answer to everything was to “purify it with holy fire from Sarenrae”. She conjured a wall of fire pressed against it and watched it slowly catch fire and burn under the intense heat. No one realized the Id Portrait might be a minor artifact or that destroying said artifact might result in a huge explosion …. it did result in the destruction of the magical artifact and that did result in a massive (20 dice) explosion of flames! The explosion took out the swiveled wall and left both Shokkanaw and Afarrah unconscious on the ground smoldering. Pugno and Shokkanaw took cover behind Afarrah so their burns were less severe. The priestess was nearly obliterated. If not for her innate fire resistance and a quick action with a healing potion from Pugno, she would have died instantly. With the wizard dead, the golem, which was linked to him, had also suffered serious injuries and now stopped moving. Pugno dragged his companions from the deadly manor. In a completely unplanned and unorthodox way, they had stopped the killer. They reported their results to the local authorities and collected their reward. They even let them know about the missing artist so that he could eventually be rescued from his painting prison trap.
Unfortunately, they did not piece together that in a way, the wizard was a victim here too. The prominent art community had been stealing his artistic ideas and giving them to the famous artist that worked for them in order to make them all rich at the wizard’s expense. But all’s well that ends well, right? It was a Guild success!!
Pugno, Shokkanaw, & Afarrah each earned an incredible 10,933xp and 2,500gp to split for their efforts