Castle Mystery, Part VIII: Death, Destruction, Departures, and Debts Paid
The party scrambled to find their footing as the tower floor crumbled around them. Most of them, including rescued captives and a number of the stasis pods, fell down to the 1st floor. The tower groaned and creaked around them, and it was quite clear the entire tower was unstable. While most of the group assisted with helping secure more prisoners from the remaining stasis pods or escorting the ones already freed to safety, Aldon bolted downstairs in an attempt to find Pistachio who had disappeared down the well.
Meanwhile, Pistachio found themself surrounded by hostiles. They managed to shoot a well placed fire bolt at the savage form of Cithrel, dispatching her and causing her still form to float to the surface. Pistachio landed on this new makeshift island, but was overcome by a savage frenzy of eel-like creatures and was knocked unconscious. Aldon made it down to the shipyard in time to see a disturbance out on the water, right before half of the tower floor above came crashing down, completely obliterating any and all that was under it. This included a number of hostiles, but unfortunately also snuffed the life of Pistachio. Loopy, following after Aldon, came down to meet the news that Pistachio was likely dead, and noticing the continued falling of debris from above, decided to head back upstairs.
However, just like with Xinas, Pistachio’s soul was pulled back to the material plane, where they awoke submerged, surrounded by debris, naked, but surprisingly able to breathe underwater. Pistachio burst from the water, determined to seek revenge against the malenti scientist who was surely going to be making her escape shortly. They launched a stone at the fleeing dorsal fin, successfully hit it and knocked it off course to the exit. However, the small victory was brief as the massive shark crested over the water, with the malenti woman clinging to its side. She aimed a guiding bolt at the reborn Pistachio and it struck true, killing them instantly, much to Aldon’s dismay. Given not much else of a choice, Aldon was forced to flee upstairs before the rest of the tower collapsed.
Upstairs, the rest of the group had managed to assist Loopy’s mother Lupra, a human woman, a human man, and a cage full of 3-tailed yellow foxes out the threshold of the tower before most of the floor collapsed. Loopy alighted on the 1st floor to find a large gap between where he stood and the remaining floor, and his only chance of escape. He opted to use Ethali like a pole vault to help make the distance, but unfortunately lost grip of his trident as it lodged in the floorboards. He vaulted over, narrowly reaching the other side but hung precariously over the edge. Tarn and Solaine rushed to his aid, managing to pull him up to safety.
Aldon came to the top of the stairs, seeing himself in a similar predicament. Thinking quickly, he extracted some rope from his pack and tossed it over to Tarn. The fiery haired little miss of the castle poked her hair into the tower and eyed the wobbling pillar of the stairwell where Aldon still stood and made a judgment call: she ran in, misty stepped to Aldon, grabbed him about the waist, and dimension door’d the two of them to safety (but of course not before Aldon grabbed Ethali from the floorboards). Tarn, Solaine, and Loopy all made it across the threshold in time before they watched the stone pillar containing the stairwell careen into the far wall, sundering it and causing the entire tower to collapse.
Grievously, the party made their way to leave, but not before the little miss bequeathed a gift of a panflute to Marret. With it, she taught her a cheerful tune that would grant her the ability to communicate with each other once a day. Solaine parted ways with the company as they exited the castle. “I need to report back to my people what we discovered there. This behavior.. goes beyond my understanding of the sahuagin. I am indebted to you for saving my life.” He bowed deeply to the group before turning to Loopy, his gaze lingering on Ethali. “You are a good man. Perhaps you and Ethali are a better match than I first thought. If I am honest I am a bit relieved it wasn’t me. Blessed Trishina knows I could never wield any weapon to do harm. If for whatever reason you find yourself back to this coast and in need of friends, the Brightwave name is commonly known enough by reputable parties that it should help you find myself and my kin.”
On the way back to Galehaven, they learn the identities of the human female, Cera Donell (a barmaid), and Glenn Forester (a novice guard and Dahlia’s brother), and spend the greater part of the day passing stories between them before they make it back to town. When they do finally make it back, and the captives made it back to their respective homes, they come across a strange, shimmering elven man speaking harshly to the half-dwarven blacksmith looking for his lord - Lowfrost, Lord Sebastokrator of the Glade Shimmering, 12th of his Color, Keeper of the Lore of the Blade and Cold Fire. After some snooping and interruption, the party learned that this entity was actually Pistachio, and Aldon took up the grim task to detail what became of this “lord,” and delivered an inspiring speech to the entire party to fight on. They eventually made their way back to Darion Stormjull, the captain guard and one of the village heads. They relayed their adventures to him, who was visibly disturbed to hear the details of experiments, sahuagin, and a potential continued threat. He bestowed upon the party 2800 gold pieces for their discovery and stopping of the immediate threat, and return of 3 of the missing villagers. He also bestowed an emblem of Galehaven to each of the party, granting them free passage on the ship routes for a year.
To be continued…?