An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V: Diamond Castle, Part IV: The Final Enemy
In which Sir Suvali and the chevalier inform the others that they – and, consequently, Sir Oengus – did not leave the room at the end of the last session.
Day 20, continued: Again, Navarre asks the soldier where he can find Albert Murphy.
“Through that door,” the soldier says, pointing to the only door in the room. “Will you go ahead or shall I lead?”
“I am not sure I appreciate your tone, soldier,” Navarre says. “I would…”
“Where is he?,” the chevalier yells at the second soldier.
“He was headed for the Great Hall last time I saw him,” the soldier says.
Navarre opens the door and looks into a dark corridor running perpendicular to the room, with another door some way down in the opposite wall and another one at the end of the corridor in the right wall, past an open doorway just dawnward of where he is now. He enters the corridor, Sir Eber right behind him, and shines his lantern through the open doorway, down another corridor leading to a reinforced door in the outer wall of the tower.
The noble duo proceed to the door in the opposite wall. It is quite ornately carved and features Blurh’s coat-of-arms.
“Albert Murphy!,” Navarre calls. “Surrender to be judged by your betters!”
When there is no answer, he opens the door to reveal another corridor running straight ahead and ending in a wall with an ornate settee against it underneath an arrow-slit. To the left and right, red velvet curtains in archways hide what lies beyond and there is an ornate coat-rack on the wall just to the right. There is no one in the corridor and there is not a sound to be heard.
The noble duo enter the corridor and prepare to open the left curtain when the chevalier pushes past them. He draws his sword and opens the curtain to the right with it, his shield in front of him. Behind the curtain is large, dark room in which everything oozes quality and workmanship. There is a large fireplace in the dawnward wall and a number of sideboards sit against the hubward wall, a large, heavy table in front of them. Across from the table is a desk, surrounded by half a dozen boxes and chests, all open. Disorderly amounts of papers, parchments, and scrolls are on the table, the desk, and in and around the boxes and chests.
“It is a war room,” the chevalier says. “There is nobody.”
Navarre and Sir Eber open the second curtain to reveal an equally dark room, this one a richly appointed bedroom with a large, ornate four-poster bed against the duskward wall. There are skulls everywhere and the walls are draped with red and black curtains featuring the symbol of Ulm.
There is no one in either room and there is no sound.
The chevalier moves across the corridor and into the bedroom. When he starts ransacking through boxes, Navarre and Sir Eber move into the ‘war room’.
“He’s not here,” Sir Eber says. “Perhaps he went to the mine?”
“He could have gone anywhere,” Navarre says, looking around. “Maybe there’s a map of the castle in here.”
When Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus appear with the captured soldiers, our noble heroes start rummaging through the papers, which turn out to contain intricate designs for apparatuses, contraptions, ships, military vehicles; extensive lists, endless calculations, complicated tables; notes on the creation of a ‘national army’, a ‘national fleet’, and similarly strange plans for the future; reports on the production and yield of arable lands and the diamond mine; numerous maps – sea charts, a map of the mine.
“I’ll take these,” Sir Oengus says, pocketing the sea charts.
“The mine is a single shaft into the ground,” Sir Eber says, studying the map of the mine. “No other exits.”
“The room is a mess,” Navarre says. “I’d say he took some papers with him.”
“I’ll see if I can find something outside,” Sir Suvali says.
He has just left the room, Sir Oengus right behind him, when the chevalier comes barging in again.
“Look for the kettle!,” he cries. “We must find the kettle!”
“It is not here,” Sir Eber says. “It’s in the witch room.”
Navarre starts looking through the papers to see if he can find anything about a ‘mastermind’, some traitorous noble who may be behind all this, but he doesn’t find anything that would suggest there is such an individual.
Sir Eber leaves the room and kicks in the last door in the main corridor, revealing a comfortable bathroom, with tiles on the walls and floor, a stool against the duskward wall, a brazier against the dawnward wall and two cubicles with curtains in front of them on the hubward wall. He enters the room and opens the curtains to reveal a luxurious bath in the duskward cubicle and a more basic one in the other. There is no one in the room and he gets back to the war room.
“He’s not in here,” he says to Navarre.
“Quite,” Navarre says. “The bird has flown the coop.”
“The soldier said he went to the Great Hall,“ Sir Eber says.
“Where is this Great Hall?,” Navarre asks the soldiers.
“Down the stairs,” one of them says.
“To the witch room!,” the chevalier cries. “We must find the kettle!”
“My dear fellow,” Navarre says. “I’d say that finding Albert Murphy is rather more important at the moment than finding your kettle. Go look for it all you like but I’m going to the Great Hall.”
Navarre and Sir Eber tell the soldiers to lead them to the Great Hall. On their way down, they are joined by Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus and they move through the guard room and into the corridor, where they find a set of double doors, locked and barred from the inside.
“Stand back,” Sir Eber says, sticking his giant crowbar between the doors.
When the doors finally open, our noble heroes look down into the Great Hall. I takes up the entire rimward half of the lower floor of the tower and right in front of them is a wooden balcony running the length of the hubward wall and continuing along the one to dawn, where a large table and some chairs overlook the hall below. Steps to either side of the door lead down to the floor below, on which are nine long tables. An ornate fireplace is against the rimward wall, some embers still glowing in it. The ceiling is domed and a large tapestry depicting a mythological hunting scene is on the duskward wall.
Navarre descends the steps to his left and gets to the floor below, which is tiled and covered with straw.
“There’s no one here,” he says, when he has had a good look around.
“A secret door?,” Sir Eber suggests. “The doors were locked from the inside. There must be an exit.”
Navarre starts looking for signs of one and, sure enough, after some time, he finds that some sideboards against the hubward wall seem to have been moved recently.
“There could be something down here,” he calls to Sir Eber.
“Start pulling pegs and torch holders,” Sir Suvali says, halfway down the stairs from the balcony.
Our noble heroes have to roll a lot of d6s and then, finally, they find what could be a secret door in the lower corner of the duskward wall. They remain at a loss on how to open it, though, until Sir Eber starts putting his giant crowbar in cracks and openings and eventually gets part of the wall to move.
“That’s it!,” Navarre exclaims, feeling the thrill of the chase again.
He pushes the wall further back and then to the left, revealing an opening with some steps leading down into the darkness. He draws his sword and starts down the steps, with Sir Eber only a short distance behind him.
“Albert Murphy!,” he yells. ‘The game is up!”
The steps eventually end in a blind wall with an iron ring in it.
Navarre starts pulling and turning it, to no avail. Sir Eber has a go and then the wall moves, fresh air streaming into the tunnel. Behind the wall is a low, short tunnel leading to the left and ending in a grated door. The door is unlocked and, when our noble heroes exit the tunnel, they find themselves next to the gatehouse in the old castle. Albert Murphy is nowhere to be seen.
“Damn you, Albert Murphy!,” Navarre calls, shaking his fist at the mountains in the distance in a bit of cinematic moment.
Sir Eber starts looking for tracks and quickly finds them.
“He went back into the castle,” he says.
“He’s long gone,” Navarre says. “He won’t be hiding in there with his cronies defeated.”
“Okay,” Sir Eber says. “Let’s get the kettle first. Then we’ll go after him.”
The noble duo enter the tunnel again and get back up to the Great Hall, where they hear noises coming through the double doors. When they get to the doors, they find Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus rummaging through a room across the corridor to their left – a small kitchen. It contains nothing of much interest and so our noble heroes head back upstairs, through the reinforced door and onto the dawnward wall.
At the other end of it, a giant eagle sits on the parapets of the witch’s tower.
“By Olm!,” Navarre whispers when our noble heroes approach the majestic creature. “I’ve never seen one from so close!”
“Impressive, what?,” Sir Oengus says. “She speaks!”
“Er…, do you speak?,” Navarre asks the creature.
The giant eagle looks at him as if it is a bird.
“You must call her by her name,” Sir Oengus says, setting after Sir Eber and Sir Suvali into the witch’s tower. “It’s Wandering Bandolo.”
Navarre executes an elegant bow, well aware that Wandering Bandolo is a sorceress.
“Wandering Bandolo,” he says. “I am Navarre Dauberval de Vergennes. Have we met before?”
The giant eagle looks at him as if it is a bird.
“As you wish,” Navarre says. “Are you still looking for the kettle?”
The giant eagle looks at him as if it is a bird… and so our noble hero gives up and enters the witch’s tower. He locates his noble fellows in a guard room below the first room to the left, where the chevalier is busy pocketing a load of silver and copper coins from a table.
“Doesn’t say a word too much, what?,” Sir Oengus says, when our noble hero comes down the stairs.
“I asked her about the kettle but she didn’t say a thing,” Navarre says.
“She speaks only when we are needed,” Sir Oengus says.
“Quite,” Navarre says, actually rather miffed that the creature hasn’t spoken to him. “Found the kettle yet?”
“Not yet,” Sir Oengus says.
When the chevalier has pocketed all coins from the table, he opens a door in the rimward wall to reveal a corridor running from dusk to dawn, with an open doorway to the right and a set of double doors in the opposite wall. The latter open to reveal a large kitchen taking up half of the lower floor of the tower.
“Maybe the kettle actually looks like an ordinary kettle?,” Navarre suggests, when he and some of the others are searching the kitchen.
“Unlikely,” Sir Suvali says. “Artifacts rarely look like ordinary items.”
“Good,” Navarre says. There must be at least a dozen kettles in the kitchen.
From somewhere down the corridor comes the sound of breaking wood. Moments later, Sir Eber enters the kitchen.
“It’s a pantry full of supplies,” he says. “No kettle.”
“It must be in the witch’s room,” the chevalier says.
Our noble heroes get back up the stairs and to the witch’s room, which they subject to a careful search, to no avail at all, although the chevalier pockets a large number of trinkets and bagatelles.
Then, Sir Oengus notices that the witch’s body has been turned over since he last saw it.
“She must have had the kettle on her,” Sir Suvali says.
“Then who took it?,” Navarre asks. “Albert Murphy?”
“It’s possible,” Sir Eber says. “He will have had plenty of time.”
“Then why didn’t the giant eagle interfere?,” Navarre asks.
“There may be many ways to get in and out of this tower,” Sir Eber shrugs.
“Avast, mateys,” Sir Oengus cuts in. “Looks like the kettle was in this ‘ere barrel.”
He is standing next to a largish barrel sitting in a puddle of water on the floor.
“Maybe Wandering Bandolo took it,” Navarre suggests. “I mean… She is human, is she not?”
“Then why is she still out there?,” Sir Eber asks.
“That isn’t Wandering Bandolo,” Sir Oengus says, a wide grin on his face. “It’s only a guard.”
When the laughter has died down, each of our noble heroes must roll d20. Navarre rolls a “2”, upon which the DM informs him that he hears the giant eagle take off from the roof. He and Sir Oengus hurry outside and they are just in time to see the creature disappear into the night sky.
When they get back to the witch’s room, Sir Suvali speaks.
“Gentlemen,” he says. “We must start after Albert Murphy. Eber, you find his trail and I’ll fly overhead to see what’s what.”
Our noble heroes leave the witch’s tower through the door to the stables. They inspect the cubicles to their right in passing and find three strange, sturdy, elongated, old, cart-like contraptions in the first. They are relatively large and there seems to be room for some six passengers and a driver. A fourth contraption is obviously missing.
“They look like dog carts,” Sir Eber says.
“They are,” Sir Oengus says, looking into the second cubicle. “This is the kennel. No dogs.”
“So Albert Murphy fled in one of these things,” Navarre says. “That could mean that he moves quite fast.”
“No problem,” Sir Suvali says. “As long as he doesn’t fly.”
“Torture equipment,” Sir Eber says, looking into the third cubicle. “A torture room.”
This cubicle is directly across from the stable doors, which would mean that, if these were open, anyone tortured in it would be clearly visible to people in the courtyard.
“A torture room in the stables,” Navarre murmurs. “What is the world coming to?”
Our noble heroes return to the Great Hall and leave the castle via the secret exit, just in case Navarre and Sir Eber missed anything when they first found it. When they leave the castle through the door in the old rimward wall, some torches appear in the distance. Moments later, some twenty men approach.
“Mim?,” Navarre wonders. “Already?”
“Il trouvera ce qu’il trouvera,” the chevalier says.
“Dauberval!,” he calls. “Who goes there?”
“Don’t shoot!,” a voice comes. “We are royalists!”
The men turn out to be barons and knights sent back to the castle by the nobles who fled when Sir Eber was fighting the rebels in the courtyard.
“Is it safe?,” one of the men, a baron, asks.
“I am Navarre Ard Dauberval,” Navarre says, using his official title. “The castle is empty. Mim and his army are in the valley and I suggest you report to him. I claim this castle for Dauberval.”
When the other players have stopped laughing, the baron speaks again.
“But isn’t there an army between here and the duke?,” he asks hesitantly.
“You will have to use your imagination,” Navarre replies.
“Imagination?,” the baron asks.
“Yes,” Navarre says. “You will have to find a way around it.”
“We are unarmed,” another baron says. “We will not stand much of a chance against an entire army.”
Navarre has to agree that the man has a point.
“Alright,” he says. “Stay in the castle and hold it until Mim arrives. There is enough food in there to last you a month.”
“We already fought some rebels on our way down here,” one of the knights says.
“In a dog cart?,” the chevalier asks.
“Rebels?,” Navarre asks. “Plural? How many?”
“Three men on a sled,” another baron says.
“How many dogs?,” Navarre asks.
“Twelve,” the baron says.
“Was there an old man with them?”
“It all went rather fast,” another baron says.
The chevalier claps his hands in mock applause.
“Who is in command over there?,” he asks.
“Eight dukes,” the baron says.
“And my father?,” Navarre asks. “Duke Dauberval?”
“He is there.”
Navarre heaves a sigh of relief. At least his noble father has survived the ordeal.
“Will you take us to the castle and show us where we can find things?,” another baron asks.
“My dear fellow,” Navarre says, throwing the man an exasperated look. “It is simple enough. There is a gate and some towers. You will close the first and look for approaching enemies from the others. Now, if you will excuse us? We have to catch some rebels. Kindly inform our kinsmen of this when they get down here, will you?”
“You will run into them on your way,” one of the knights says. “They are hiding not far from here.”
“Well?,” Navarre says angrily. “Lead the way, man!”