Will this be the final mission of this book? Yes. Will this be the final session of this book? Read more to find out!
Skyreach Castle looms in the distance.
I happen to know a little bit about it from a story my mother told me. I didn't think it was real, until now.
Eons ago, cloud giants built it tot fight dragonkind, instilling the spirits of themselves to give it flight. Powerful wards kept dragons from taking it for their own. The castle itself was carved from ice so thick it was opaque, and enchanted to be as strong as granite thanks to cloud giant wizardry.
But now, it was hollowed out to hold a powerful dragon, and the dragon and cloud giant spirit must surely be at an uneasy truce.
We land in the lower courtyard, which is enclosed by walls of solid ice. To the fair side is the main keep, and hidden in shadow, an enormous spiral stair case leads upwards.
The courtyard is deserted, other than ourselves.
We dismount the wyverns and they immediately head for a structure that looks like a stables, as if waiting for the doors to be opened.
Alissa goes over to open the doors for the wyverns, only to find a group of much less docile wyverns inside. The two wyverns we had been riding pay no mind to the sudden commotion, and instead scurry into stables.
Hardly after we find ourselves fending off the two wyverns, we hear a clunking noise behind us. Apparently we've alerted the local ogre guard as well now, and they're preparing to fire two enormous scorpios on us.
I twin cast haste on Alissa and Shale, and Luke puts an angry portal of darkness upon them. It crackles and hisses, and I don't care to guess what twisted darkness he's created for them.
Shale finishes one of the wyverns off, and we hear cursing of two ogres as they jump out of a trapdoor. They throw javelins at me, but I cast my shield spell, causing the javelins to bounce solidly off.
The drawbridge starts coming down, and dragonwing cultists pour out of a barracks. I throw a fireball at them, severely wounding them.
Shale kills one of the ogres, and throw another fireball at a group of ogres and cultists, killing several of them. One of the ogres hits me with a solid blow, but I manage to keep hold of the haste spell.
Even more cultists stream out of the barracks, and for them, another fireball. They don't go down immediately, but I scatter a few magic missiles at them, finishing several of them off.
We can hear the drawbridge coming down, and before long, we can barely see that something tall is behind them. Giants.
Alissa finishes the last ogre off in just enough time for us to take a deep breath before the giants stride into the courtyard.
Alissa ducks into the stables, and I go to a corner, where they might not immediately notice me.
The giants swing at Shale, but quickly lose interest after Alissa makes a shot at them from the darkness of the stable.
I unleash a firebolt as well, before stepping into the courtyard room.
Oh. Oops. There's an ogre manning a crank for the drawbridge, and he spots me. He makes a swing at me, but I shock him with a spell, and leave the room as quickly as possible.
Luckily he doesn't follow.
Alissa fells one of the giants, which the other giant is not happy about, so he charges her, knocking her down.
Likewise, Shale isn't happy at seeing her friend knocked down, so she runs at the giant as well, and brings out the hurt. Out of three attacks, two of them are crits. That's 81 damage. EIGHTY-ONE DAMAGE.
The abruptly loses interest in Alissa, and tried to kill Shale, but Shale unleashes another flurry of attacks Two more crits, but somehow only 31 damage this time. Stop rolling minimum damage on your crits, Dan., slicing the giants head off. Impressive.
We search the battlefield. The wyvern saddles in the stables are pretty valuable about 500 gold, but we don't find much else in the battlefield.
We decide to investigate the barracks. The door is shut now, and with great effort, Shale and Alissa manage to get it open. There's not much interesting here. There are few furnishings here, aside from the unwashed beds and unemptied chamber pots. There are some chests, but they look hastily opened, and seem to have very few valuables in them.
We check the adjacent room out. As Alissa and Shale open it, we can suddenly hear the sounds of cooking.
Twenty faces turn to face us.
Also, a griffin, which swoops past us, raking Alissa with its claws.
I take care of most of the kobold with yet another fireball, and soon Luke and Shale have taken care of the griffin. Before long, the fight is over.
We decide to rest a bit in the kitchen. It's not cold, and it doesn't smell bad, at least.
We return to the courtyard, and we investigate an archway.
Inside is a nine foot tall table with some enormous chairs obviously made for giants. A fat iron cauldron inscribed with runes sites upon it, which I can only assume is for an augory spell, and to the side is an equally large iron chest.
Alissa tries to get the enormous iron chest open, and she succeeds revealing a huge pile of precious stones and some giant sized masonry tools, but finds herself foiled by an invisible wall. Luke tries to dispel it to no avail, something I actually know nothing of. Maybe we'll come back here later, we tell ourselves. Room 10
We continue to explore, finding a store room with huge sides of beef, and barrels smelling of salt and burlap.
Alissa tries to open the next door for the room just across the hallway from it, but can't seem to figure the lock out. Just when she thinks she might see the problem, the door suddenly opens, and she falls from the large lock above us.
Apparently Rezmir got tired of waiting for us to try to get through the door. We're pretty sure it's Rezmir, since her black dragon mask partially covers her face. She's surrounded by several imposing looking cultists.
Shale tries diplomacy. It doesn't work.
Luke tries to blight Rezmir. It's hard to tell if it worked.
Rezmir tries spitting at Dan and Alissa and strikes Alissa with a very evil looking sword. It works very well, as Jeff goes down with necrotic energy being drawn from her body.
Shale steps over Alissa's body to take Rezmir on. Rezmir throws a caustic bolt at me, and hits Shale with her sword, but it seems to not affect Shale as much.
The other cultists fall upon Shale, and I reluctantly throw a fireball in the room just as Luke manages to drag Alissa's body out of harms away. Shale manages to avoid most of the fiery death. Rezmir's companions do not avoid it, and they simply die.
Rezmir doesn't try to avoid it at all, and instead her mask flashes and she seems completely unaffected by it.
Darkness descends on us, and shortly after, I hear Shale go down with a grunt. Luke seems to handling himself against Rezmir just fine, but I can't see in this unnatural darkness, so I try to retreat to the light of day.
I wait outside the unnatural cloud of darkness, ready. Ready to kill Rezmir, should Luke have been unable to finish her off.
My wait isn't long. Rezmir emerges, her evil greatsword still in hand.
The magical darts from my magic missiles finish Rezmir off, and her corpse disintegrates into a pile of ash before my very eyes.
Luke and Alissa are unconscious and barely breathing, but Shale is not. Is this where where it ends? Above the world, this frozen hell of a castle?
I gather up Rezmir's magical items into a pile, careful to not touch the sword, and I barricade the door the best I can, and I wait for my companions to wake up, caring for them the best I can.
A couple hours pass, and I hear an enormous knocking on the door.
I ask who it is, but am answered by the door opening with regard for my previous feeble attempt to have placed some things in it's way.
A storm giant looms over me clad in splint mail and wielding a morningstar, and two ogres flank him.
"So, you have attacked the dragon cultists," he tells me.
I can't disagree with that. "They are my enemy," I say.
"Unfortunately," he says, "you have also killed two of my guests."
I quickly point out they attacked us.
He laughs, and continues, "It looks like you have reached your last legs, but I have need of you."
He closes the door behind him, and explains what exactly he has in mind.
He serves the cultists while they have their will imposed on the castle, but he wishes to change that. He's not willing to fight them openly, but he will assist us in killing the dragon, so he have control over his castle back.
I agree to assist in any way I can. After all, we share a common enemy, and I will take any help I can get.
There's a catch though. After the dragon is slain, he must reactivate the defenses immediately, as he wishes to keep the cultists none the wiser to his true intentions and reinfiltrate them so as to continue to oppose them from within.
In return, we may gather as much of the dragon's hoard as we carry, and he will teleport us away.
He brings us to his chambers in a sack, and resurrects Shale from the dead, and heals all of us of our wounds.
I quickly explain to my now recovered companions what he asks of us, and they all agree grimly. We're indebted to him already.
Before we take our sack ride to the castle vault, I ask him what his name is, and what he plans to do after he gets his castle back.
Balgothkus. And he'll contact us after. He cannot allow the dragon cult to know his involvement, so he must be careful.