An Adventure in Five Acts (AD&D 2E) (Final Update 25 Feb 2023)


How inconvenient
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.
Navarre advances.
“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!”

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How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part IV (Continued)

And so our noble heroes start further rimward in the company of two barons and two knights. After following a dyke for fifteen minutes, they reach a meadow stretching far into the distance. Another fifteen minutes later, one of the knights calls out to some overgrown badlands about a hundred yards to dawn.
Areu!,” he hollers. “Areu! The castle is safe!”
When some bushes start moving and the first of the nobles appear, Navarre advances, rather overcome by a sense of relief despite himself.
“Dauberval!,” he yells. “Dauberval!”
More nobles appear and then Navarre spots his noble father among them. His step quickens.
“Father!,” he says, falling to one knee when he reaches the duke. “The castle! It is safe!”
“The castle?,” Duke Dauberval says. “Don’t you mean our castle?”
“Yes, father.”
“Splendid!,” the duke says, turning to his peers. “Messieurs…”
But now the assembled nobles of The Forest start cheering and guffawing all at once, expressing their relief that their sons have survived.
“Our sons! // You have escaped! Ilm be praised! // Good lord! // You have survived! We were certain you had perished! // Capital! // You have escaped! // Well played, old sport! // To the castle!”
When the initial enthusiasm dies down for a bit, Navarre addresses his noble father again.
“Father,” he says. “Mim has a thousand men advancing from the valley below. I suggest you lead our kinsmen to the castle and hold it until he gets there. You will be safe there.”
The nobles start yelling again.
“Mim! The parvenu! // What is he doing here? // But the man is a pirate! // Mim? I haven’t seen him yonks! // Is Mim leading our armies? Olm help us! // To the castle! // The taxes must be raised! // Strict limitations must be imposed! // A firm hand! // A stern reprimand!”
“We need horses!,” the chevalier joins in, obviously taken by the moment. “Horses!”

At some point, Navarre manages to get his noble father’s attention again,
“Father,” he says. “The rebel leader is Albert Murphy!”
“The architect!”
“What architect?”
“Albert Murphy!,” Navarre cries. “The architect who built our castle! He dined at our table!”
“Ah!,” Duke Dauberval says. “Yes. Our castle. I have to say that I am still getting quite a lot of comments on that thing.”

Around them, the nobles have not ceased their prattling: “The commoners must be educated! // Preposterous! // Education? They sent our children to school with the plebs! It is an outrage! // You must take us to the castle!”
But then the chevalier seems to have had enough.
Messieurs, mesdames!,” he yells. “S’il vous plaît! We must set after the rebel leader in all haste! Retreat to the castle and await the arrival of the royalists!”
He has to repeat this several times before the nobles start moving in a bit of a huff: “Surely you are not running away? // They are running! Again! // You cannot leave us behind like this!”

It is around half past eight in the evening when the nobles of The Forest are finally gone and our noble heroes can continue the hunt for Albert Murphy.
“Do we have enough supplies for a trip into the mountains?,” Navarre asks. “We may have to spend days up there.”
“I took some food from the pantry,” Sir Suvali says. “We can last a day or two.”
“Good thinking,” Navarre says. “I say! Where is Weald?”
Sir Eber left his noble fellows and the yelling nobles long before this. He has found a goat’s trail at the end of the meadow not far from where the nobles were hiding and he has started following it, leaving signs and markers for his noble fellows where necessary.
Sir Suvali takes to the air and soon locates the ranger some twenty minutes ahead. He reports back to the others, who start after their noble fellow on foot.

It is half past four in the morning when Sir Eber reaches a field of debris sloping upwards between steep cliffs to the left and right and ending in another. He lights a new torch and realizes he is in an old quarry. Finding no immediate way out of it and having found no trace of Albert Murphy so far, he decides to wait for his noble fellows.
About half an hour later, just when the day breaks, our noble heroes are together again. With the sun appearing over the mountains, they see that they are now some way into the mountains. Snow-capped mountains glitter in the distance, the Three Brothers among them.
“So there is no trace of him?,” Navarre asks.
“Not yet,” Sir Eber replies.
“That valley up there seems the most likely way out of here,” Navarre says, pointing to a prominent gap between two hills slightly to the left of the cliff at the end of the quarry.
The noble duo start looking for a way up until Sir Eber locates a goat’s trail leading out of the quarry.
“We may have to get to the snow up there before we find anything,” Sir Eber says, looking up at the mountains.
“Maybe he wasn’t here at all,” Navarre suggests. “Who says he hasn’t slipped into a cave somewhere? Taken to the air?”
“I would have found something,” the ranger says.
“Hmm…,” Navarre says. “How long until we get up there? An hour? Hour and a half?”
“Does it matter?,” Sir Eber says. “We’ll just have to follow tracks and trails until we find him.”

It is around half past six in the morning when our noble heroes reach the snowline and Sir Eber finally finds some evidence of Albert Murphy’s passing.
“Sled!,” he hollers, pointing to two lines in the snow with dog tracks between them.
“Yes!,” Navarre says, clenching his fist. “Got him!”
“After him!,” Sir Eber yells.
“I’ll scout ahead,” Sir Suvali says.
He takes to the air and the others start following the tracks, with Navarre and Sir Eber keeping their eyes peeled for possible hideouts and places to rest. By now, our noble heroes have been awake for more than a day and a night and most of them are beginning to feel the strain.
“We must keep going,” Navarre says. “Albert Murphy will also tire. We’ll have him when he stops.”

And so our noble heroes continue their pursuit of Albert Murphy, following his tracks whenever they find them and relying on the expertise of Sir Eber and Navarre to determine where to go when they have lost them. It is well after five o’clock in the afternoon when they lose the trail and decide to start looking for a place to spend the night. A suitable spot is found in a cave-like opening some way up a narrow trail and our noble heroes set up camp.
When everybody has eaten, the chevalier leans back against the cave wall.
Messieurs,” he says. “Mes felicitations! We have taken Diamond Castle and our enemy is on the run.”
“It has become quite an adventure,” Navarre agrees. “I must say that it rather agrees with me.”
“We have helped shape the history of The Forest, mon cher,” the chevalier says. “That is what counts.”
“I wonder if Mim has already dealt with the rebel army,” Navarre muses, before adding that it is a good thing that the nobles are safely in the castle. Although he has not mentioned it, he still has considerable difficulty accepting that the nobles chose to flee Diamond Castle when they were freed instead of making a stand with the weapons he and Sir Oerknal had been throwing into the courtyard.
“We must have faith,” the chevalier says. “Everything will return to normal when a new king has been elected.’
“Quite,” Navarre muses. “Politics. I would almost suggest that we should have say in who is to be the next king.”
“A-ha-ha-ha!,” the chevalier laughs. “Not at all, mon cher, not at all! By this time next year we will all be sipping Lillac on the Fortnight!”

Day 21, 08.00 hrs: After an uneventful night, our noble heroes are having breakfast.
“Where do you think he went?,” Navarre asks.
“The Icy Waste,” Sir Suvali says. “Our supplies will last another day.”
“I’d say we’ll need three days to get to this Icy Waste,” Sir Eber says. “Progress will be slow.”
“And we have no idea how far we are behind him,” Navarre says. “Or how fast he is traveling, for that matter. I say we use the magical wand and fly to the other side.”
“Impossible!,” Sir Suvali says, too quickly. “The winds are too strong up there and we must stay on his trail and the wand only has a few charges left. We must save such ideas for emergencies.”
Navarre casts the sorcerer an annoyed look but decides to let the matter rest.
“He could be on his way to the Three Brothers,” he suggests. “He spent a lot of time in these mountains and he must know his way around.”
“We must follow his trail,” Sir Eber says. “There is no use guessing where he went.”
“Hmm…,” Navarre says. “I suppose we’ll pass the Three Brothers anyway if we go on like this. There may be a trail if he went there.”
“We will still need supplies,” Sir Suvali says. “I suggest we take a vote. Continue or turn back and prepare properly.”
“We would seem to have little choice,” Navarre says. “We don’t know what is in these mountains and we need proper clothing and food.”
“No,” Sir Eber says. “We cannot stop until we know where he is. It will end when it ends.”
“And what if he entered the Icy Waste?,” Navarre asks. “We will have to go back anyway in that case. I say we return now and start this thing well prepared.”
“We can always get back if we should run into problems out there,” Sir Eber says. “Suvali can use his wand and we’ll be back in the castle within hours.”
“No,” Sir Suvali says. “The wand has too few charges left. I’ll scout ahead and you will follow on foot. We still have supplies for one day and I can get new supplies from the castle at any time.”
“Right,” Navarre says, growing tired of the sorcerer’s evasive maneuvers and rising to his feet. “It seems we will have to walk. If we are to continue, that is.”
“I will fly ahead and see what’s what from up there,” Sir Suvali says. “When I return, I will fly back to the castle for supplies while you continue to follow the trail.”

A vote is taken and Sir Suvali’s plan is accepted. With his noble companions breaking up camp, the sorcerer takes to the air and he spots the Icy Waste almost immediately – a vast expanse of white in the far distance. He estimates that it will take him around three hours to get there and he takes some time to see what would be the easiest route for his noble fellows to take. He identifies some passable mountain passes, trails, gullies, and valleys and reports back before taking to the air again and flying off in the direction of the Icy Waste.

Some three hours later, around the same time when his noble fellows finally find Albert Murphy’s trail again, he reaches his point of no return. He turns back and rejoins his noble fellows at around two o’clock in the afternoon.
“There’s a relatively clean route to the Icy Waste,” he says to Sir Eber when he has landed. “No obvious tracks to the Three Brothers. He is going to the Icy Waste.”
Mon Dieu,” the chevalier says. “Ice giants.”
“I’ll get the supplies,” Sir Suvali says. “I’ll take your suggestions now.”
Our noble heroes spend some time deciding what they will need in a frozen wasteland.
“Gentlemen,” Sir Suvali says, when the list is finished. “You continue on foot while I fly back to the castle.”
“Quite,” Navarre says frostily, still rather annoyed at the sorcerer refusing to use the wand. “Let’s get moving before the weather changes or something else wipes out the tracks.”
“A single sausage would sustain us for many days if we were reduced in size,” Sir Eber tries one last time.
“I will leave now,” the sorcerer says. “It’s less than two hours to the castle and I’ll spend the night there.”
“I’m sure you will,” Navarre says.


How inconvenient
An Adventure in Five Acts, Act V, Part IV (Continued)

It is around six o’clock in the evening when Sir Suvali returns with some of the necessary supplies (oil, lanterns, torches; tarpaulins, snowshoes, winter blankets, thick coats and cloaks; ropes, mallets, pinions; food, wine).
“Did they kick you out, Wyrsn?,” Sir Eber asks.
“The castle is under siege,” Sir Suvali says, ignoring the quip. “The rebel army has split. Half of it is still in the valley blocking Mim’s advance and the other half is laying siege. Bandits.”
“Then the rebels are finished!,” the chevalier cries, opening a bottle of wine. “Mim has them outnumbered in the valley!”
“Unless Murphy has some trick up his sleeve,” Sir Eber says. “Maybe he has a way of getting ice giants to the castle.”
“So everything now seems to depend on him,” Navarre muses. “Still, his little revolution is over even if he were to retake the castle. The royalists will crush his army in the valley.”
“All the more reason for us to find him fast,” Sir Eber says, glowering at Sir Suvali.
“I’m going back to the castle,” the sorcerer says.
“I think you should take our armors with you,” Navarre says. “We have no use for them until we get to the Icy Waste and they only add to the weight we have to carry. If it’s only a couple of hours from the Icy Waste to the castle, you can pick them up again when we get there.”
“Okay,” the sorcerer says.
Navarre hands him his armor and the sorcerer takes to the air again. Some ten minutes after he has left, he spots a large tree, picks a spot near the top leaves the armor right there before continuing to the castle.

Navarre, Sir Eber, Sir Oengus, and the chevalier spend the next three days traversing the mountains on foot, with Sir Suvali flying up and down with supplies – and leaving an armor in his tree each time he returns to the castle. He also brings letters from our noble heroes’ parents. One of these is from Duke Dauberval, who expresses his displeasure at our noble heroes pursuing a commoner to the end of the world while The Forest is at war.

Day 24, 13.00 hrs: Navarre, Sir Eber, Sir Oengus, and the chevalier have crossed a third mountain range and are presently looking down a long, snow-covered glacier in a V-shaped valley leading down to a vast icy plain stretching as far as they can see underneath a gray sky – the Icy Waste.
“Good lord,” Navarre breathes, quite impressed by the view. “It exists!”
“Of course it does, lubber,” Sir Oengus says. “Maps don’t lie.”
“I suppose you’re right, old sport,” Navarre replies.

Our noble heroes decide to take a breather and are are just finishing lunch when Sir Suvali arrives with a large pack on his back.
“Gentlemen,” he says, when he has landed and taken the pack from his back. “A sled. It just needs reassembling.”
And, sure enough, about an hour’s work later, our noble heroes have assembled a long sled much like the carts in the stables at Diamond Castle.
“There is a large rift at the bottom there,” Sir Suvali says, pointing down the glacier. “Right where the Icy Waste starts. It runs from dusk to dawn and it’s huge.”
“Captain on deck, lubbers!,” Sir Oengus says. “If there be somethin’ to steer it’ll be me as to do the steerin’, by thunder! All hands on deck and sails away!”

Our noble heroes start down the glacier in their sled, with Sir Oengus at the helm. Although there is less wind on this side of the mountains, it is definitely a lot colder than before. While they find their progress much easier now, it is still not very fast and it is around five o’clock in the afternoon when they get their first good view of the rift the sorcerer saw earlier. It runs right across the bottom of the glacier and it must be about a hundred yards wide. Beyond is the Icy Waste – an endless plain of ice.
“It be another hour to the rift,” Sir Oengus says.
“I say we make camp here,” Navarre suggests. “We don’t know what we will find down there and I’d rather find out with a full day ahead of us than with night falling.”
“Agreed,” the chevalier says.
“I will scout ahead,” Sir Suvali says.

A camp is made and then Sir Suvali makes his first outing to the rift. He decides not to get too close to it for the time being and so he can only determine that it is, indeed, a jagged rift in a thick layer of ice on the bedrock. It must stretch for tens of miles in both directions and, from what he can see, he estimates it to be at least one hundred yards deep. There are no signs of life anywhere.
He gets back to the camp for some dinner and takes to the air again when evening has fallen. When he returns, he reports that there are still no signs of life – no fires, no lights, no nothing.

Day 25: Around four o’clock in the morning, just before daybreak, Sir Suvali prepares for another outing to the rift. He finds the day to be exceedingly cold, perhaps close to freezing, and realizing that it is high summer in The Forest, he concludes that the mountains must be a natural barrier against the cold of the Icy Waste. He takes to the air and makes another pass over the rift, still finding no signs of life anywhere. He flies back to retrieve the armors he left in his tree and, when he returns to the camp around ten o’clock, he finds his noble fellows ready to go.

Our noble heroes reach the rift an hour later. It stretches from dusk till dawn as far as the eye can see. When they look into it, they see many chunks of ice and rock wedged between its walls to either side but it is otherwise too dark down there to see the bottom. As Sir Suvali reported yesterday, the rift is cut right into the snow, ice, and bedrock, with the icy layer being some five yards thick.
“So where did he go?,” Navarre asks. “Did he go around it?”
“I didn’t have time to read tracks,” Sir Eber says.
“You lost them, didn’t you?,” Navarre grins.
The ranger growls something unintelligible.
“So what is it to be, captain?,” Navarre asks Sir Oengus. “Right or left?”
“I’ll see what’s on the other side,” Sir Suvali says. “If he crossed the rift somehow, he may have left tracks there.”

He takes to the air, crosses the rift and flies about for a bit but he doesn’t find any trace of Albert Murphy. But then, when he is on his way back, he spots what must be a trail leading down along hubward wall of the rift. Getting a bit closer, he sees that it starts some distance duskward of where his noble companions are now. It must be 400 yards long and ends in a large cave entrance darkness another 40 yards down.
He returns to his noble companions and reports his findings.
“A cave!,” Navarre exclaims excitedly. “It must be where he went! It must be where he spent his time in the mountains!”
Our noble heroes turn left and eventually reach the top of the trail, where Sir Eber picks up Albert Murphy’s tracks again.
“It is no longer than a day old,” he says. “It’s a sled going down there.”
“Got him!,” Navarre says.

Our noble heroes start down the trail and find it to run along a natural fissure in the rock, with some steps cut into it where necessary. At the end, in the hubward wall of the rift, is a large hole – a cave entrance. It is some five yards high, high enough for an ice giant.
Drawing their weapons, our noble heroes enter the cave, a short tunnel that opens up into a large cave with a domed ceiling. The cave must be 30 yards across and there is a huge table directly to the left of the opening. Beyond it, in the center of the room, a large hole in the ground is surrounded by a number of chests and what appear to be low, standing stones. A weak light comes from the hole.
Bows at the ready, our noble heroes cautiously advance into the cave until they get to the hole, which they find to be quite deep. There are a number of… mounds of ice?… on the floor and a ladder is against the wall close to where they are now standing. The light is diffuse and exceedingly weak and it has no visible source – and the DM calls for Initiative checks.

“Initiative?,” Sir Eber exclaims, perhaps, finally, slightly concerned for his safety. “The giant is dead!”
“There may be more,” Navarre says.
“Ssh!,” the chevalier hisses. “There is another opening at the back! There is a light!”
The ranger hurls his torch across the pit.
“Something moves!,” Sir Suvali yells, pointing to the opening at the back.
A man wearing a thick coat has appeared in the opening, a bow in his hand. Having won Initiative, Sir Suvali casts a Sleep spell – to no effect at all – and then the man shoots an arrow at him, inflicting some considerable damage.
“Death to all sorcerers!,” he yells. “They are here! Get them! Goddammit!”

The sorcerer dives to the floor behind a chest and Sir Eber starts for the archer while the chevalier, Sir Oengus, and Navarre release their arrows and bolts, causing the archer to curse again. Then, with Sir Oengus and the chevalier continuing to fire at the archer, Navarre draws his sword and charges after the ranger, who suffers some considerable damage, the archer taking a negligible amount in return. The ranger reaches the archer and hits him twice – hard – an then a second man comes running, this one clad in full plate armor and wielding a halberd.
With the arrows of the chevalier and Sir Oengus whizzing past to little effect, Navarre reaches the opening, which gives into what is obviously a smithy. There is a fireplace in each of its three walls, smith’s tools and bellows are everywhere and there are numerous anvils, one of which seems to have been constructed of four anvils welded together.
Against the far wall is Albert Murphy.

“Call off your dogs, Albert Murphy!,” Navarre yells, dodging an attack by the halberdier. “It is over!”
“Go away!,” Albert Murphy yells. “Assassins! Killers! Revolution!”
But, with Sir Eber landing a mighty blow on the archer and sending him sagging to the floor, Navarre has to leave Albert Murphy where he is and engage the halberdier. But he fumbles his attack – will it ever stop? – and then Sir Eber turns to face the halberdier.
“You again!,” the halberdier roars to the ranger, turning to face him. “Bugger off, already!”
With the halberdier engaging Sir Eber, Navarre advances into the smithy, where a third man appears.
“You there!,” the man yells to Navarre. “Over here! Stinking wizards! Now take on someone your own size!”
It is Olaf, the bandit lord who was reduced in size back in the witch’s tower and who is now back to normal again.
With Sir Eber and the halberdier now fighting each other – Sir Eber suffering massive damage and hardly inflicting any in return for a change – Navarre charges the bandit lord and then Sir Suvali, who has been ‘focusing on Albert Murphy’ from behind his chest way back in the cavern, shoots a magic missile at the halberdier.
However, he does so only once before he starts shooting arrows again and the next round sees none of our noble heroes inflict any damage at all, while the halberdier once again inflicts substantial damage on Sir Eber. Olaf manages to push past Navarre and is now attacking the ranger, fortunately to no effect. Then, finally, Sir Eber manages to land some glancing blows on the halberdier and the man sags to the floor.
“Surrender!,” Navarre yells to Olaf, missing him in the process.
“Deal!,” Olaf yells, dropping his weapon and turning around to point at Albert Murphy. “There he is! It was him! I had no choice! I was forced into this by the brute!”
Navarre turns around and approaches Albert Murphy.

“Albert Murphy!,” he calls. “In the name of the King! I arrest you for treason, inciting a revolution, and the murder of countless innocent men!”
“Well…,” Albert Murphy says, sitting down on the floor. “Oh, well. It seems that we have come to the end of the road. Welcome to my humble abode.”
The architect is a short, neat, but otherwise rather nondescript man. In strange defiance of the seriousness of his situation, he exudes an air of calm and confidence – much as if he were welcoming a party of friends for a pleasant soiree.
“I say…!,” Navarre starts, suddenly at a loss for words. After all the man has done? The bloody nerve of him!
“Welcome?,” the chevalier says frostily, pushing past him. “This is not my idea of a welcome.”
“Ah!,” Albert Murphy says amiably. “But you are! Such fine gentlemen like yourselves! Welcome! Is there anything I can offer you?”
“Gag him!,” the chevalier cries. “He speaks in tongues!”
Albert Murphy makes the sign of Ulm and calmly allows Sir Eber, heavily wounded, to tie his hands.
“Good lord, man!,” Navarre exclaims angrily. “A revolution!? What were you thinking?”
“I do not owe you an explanation,” Albert Murphy says. “The future will prove that I was right. The vision was clear.”
Des mots clair,” the chevalier says sharply. “You are a murderer of noblemen, of women. Even children you did not spare.”
“Have you nothing to say for yourself?,” Navarre fumes.
Albert Murphy calmly looks at each of noble heroes in turn but doesn’t answer.
“No matter,” Navarre says. “You will be judged for your misdeeds.”
“Why did you come here?,” Sir Eber asks. “What is was your plan? How does the Icy Waste fit into all this?”
“I was going to regroup,” Albert Murphy says, still speaking as if he is engaged in some light banter.
“Then who else is here?,” the chevalier asks.
“So many questions, gentlemen,” Albert Murphy says soothingly. “Why, I…”
“And you had better start answering them, monsieur!,” the chevalier cries.
“Are you people peers of the realm?,” Albert Murphy asks. “Do you represent someone?”
“We represent the King,” Navarre says.
“I would ask you to watch your tone, monsieur,” the chevalier says.
Once again, Albert Murphy looks at each of our noble heroes in turn, still strangely unperturbed by the situation. “What do you intend to do with me?,” he asks.
“You will be brought before a court of law where you will answer for your misdeeds,” Navarre says.
“That is grave news,” Albert Murphy says solemnly. “I will not stand much of a chance in a court presided by a new king, even if I would cooperate. Perhaps you could be my judges? You have the right to do so in small council, if I am not mistaken. Maybe I can be of service to you in some way?”
“Are you mad?,” Navarre exclaims. “ Would you believe that we would negotiate with you?”
“He is stalling for time,” the chevalier says, looking around the smithy. “Something is afoot.”
“I feel it, too,” Sir Oengus says. “We should get out of here.”
“We will search this place first,” Sir Suvali says. Some moments earlier, he has covertly cast Detect Magic on Albert Murphy and the smithy but he does not detect any magical auras.

While Sir Oengus and Sir Suvali subject the cave and the smithy to a search, the others discuss the possibility of judging Albert Murphy in small council, with each and every one of our noble heroes continuing to keep an eye out for anything that could indicate that Albert Murphy is, indeed, stalling for time.
“I’m not entirely sure how this small council would work,” Navarre admits.
“We can condemn him to death and kill him,” Sir Eber says.
“That is not quite what I meant,” Navarre says. “The man should have some sort of counsel to defend him.”
“Not me,” Sir Eber says.
“Nor I,” Navarre says. “I would not know where to begin. Still, judging him here would save us the trouble of taking him back across the mountains and into a war zone.”

After some more of this, Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus return. They have located Albert Murphy’s sled and his dogs in a niche rimward of the smithy and presently suggest that our noble heroes search the pit.
“There’s something down there,” Sir Suvali says. “A suspicious mound of debris against one of the walls. It may hide an opening.”
“Well?,” Navarre asks. “What’s stopping you?”
“An exit?,” the chevalier exclaims. “I knew something was afoot! We must get out of here!”
“I suppose it will not hurt us to prepare for when we should have to get out of here in all haste,” Navarre says.
“Something is wrong!,” the chevalier cries. “I feel it! We must go now!”
And with that, he starts for the dogs and the sled.

A palpable tension is now in the air. Indeed, Navarre thinks, come to think of it, the whole cave now seems to exude an eerie, almost imperceptible sense of… something. He has a good look around but he cannot put his finger on it. Strangely enough, the only thing that does come to mind, is… that he has been here before. Preposterous! He has never been here in his life!
“It would seem that there is something wrong here,” he says to the others. “I’ll get Albert Murphy to the exit and keep him there. See if anything changes.”
When he is gone, Sir Eber starts helping the chevalier with the dogs and the sled. This takes them a while and, when they are almost finished, they notice that Sir Oengus and Sir Suvali are nowhere to be seen.

Not long after Navarre left the cavern with Albert Murphy and Olaf, Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus descended into the pit to have another look at the supposed exit. They found the ‘mounds of ice’ on the floor to be coils of long metal chains coated with ice as if water has been dripping onto them and then froze. When they got to the mound of debris stacked against part of the wall, they found it to be mostly rocks and mud, which seems strange in a cave containing neither.
“Only one way to find out, lubber,” Sir Oengus said. “Let’s start digging.”
The noble duo started removing the rocks and, sure enough, they soon found an exit hidden behind it. They dug some more until a large boulder blocking the exit was revealed, with the rest of the opening bricked up.
Now, both have to make a saving throw against fear, which they fail. They are exiting the pit in all haste when the chevalier arrives.
“Get out of there!,” he cries. “What are you doing?”

When Sir Suvali and Sir Oengus can think clearly again and have told the others of what transpired in the pit, we find our noble heroes gathered at the entrance to the cave, for it has now become clear that there is definitely something strange going on within it.
“We must deal with Albert Murphy first,” Navarre says. “We cannot have him at our back if we should start investigating whatever it is that is in that pit.”
“Agreed,” Sir Suvali says. “Besides, Eber is no condition to do anything right now. Look at him. He can barely move.”
The others agree, although the ranger says that there is nothing wrong with him, and so our noble heroes finish preparing the sled for what is now more and more looking like their impending return to The Forest.

“Maybe you should get Albert Murphy to Mim,” Navarre says to Sir Suvali when our noble heroes are ready to leave the cave. “You can use the wand on him and have him at the castle in three hours. Save us a lot of trouble and all that.”
“We must get out of the cave first,” Sir Suvali says, in a typical reaction. “We must get to the mountains as soon as possible. Get some distance between us and that cave.”
“Now is not the time to worry about our own hides, Sir,” Navarre says, for once deciding that, this time, he is not going to put up with yet another of the sorcerer’s attempts to get out of any and all conversations involving him – let alone the others – using any of the magic items at his disposal.
“Let’s go,” the sorcerer says.
Navarre looks him straight in the eye.
“Are you actually telling me that you are not going to use the wand and fly to the castle?,” he asks, steel in voice.
The sorcerer smiles feebly and averts his eyes.
“I will do it,” he says, after a dramatic pause for effect. “Just not at the moment.”
Navarre has to restrain himself quite considerably.

And so it is that our noble heroes and their prisoners leave the cave and the rift and start back to the glacier.
“This is going to be a long trip, to be sure,” Sir Oengus says, looking at Albert Murphy and Olaf huddled in the sled. “I says we kill them and be done with it.”
“We are not savages, Sir,” Navarre says. “The law dictates that he must have a fair trial.”

The company are already some way up the glacier when Navarre addresses Sir Suvali.
“Perhaps you could find it within you to start getting Albert Murphy back to Mim, now?,” he suggests.
Sir Suvali nods almost imperceptibly and tells Sir Oengus to stop the sled. Taking his time, he starts to brew up a broth from some of Theresa’s sleep-inducing herbs and feeds it to Albert Murphy, who calmly undergoes the whole thing. He then binds and gags the architect, procures his wand, reduces Albert Murphy in size and stuffs him into one of the pockets of his vest.
“Gentlemen,” he says, unfolding his wings.
Bon voyage!,” the chevalier cries when the sorcerer takes to the air.

Epilogue: The session has now more or less ended and so all that is left to say is that Sir Suvali delivers Albert Murphy in the hands of Duke Mim after he has made it quite clear to him that it was our noble heroes who took Diamond Castle – taking care to describe the heroic actions of all involved in some detail.
“Well played, my good man,” Duke Mim says. “Is there anything you need?”
“We are on our way back,” Sir Suvali says.
After this, he flies back to the castle, where he informs the besieged of the situation.
“You will have to hold out until Mim gets here,” he says. “We will be here soon. The revolution is over, we just need to pick up the pieces now.”

Back on the other side of the mountains, the rest of our noble heroes find that getting back up the glacier is quite a bit harder than gliding down from it on a sled. No one has ever driven a dogsled before – and definitely not up a glacier. When they finally decide to call it a day, Navarre shakes the hands of his noble fellows.
“Suvali must have delivered Albert Murphy to Mim by now,” he says, raising his glass for a toast. “I say congratulations are in order.”
“Gentlemen!,” Sir Oengus hollers. “To changing times! We shall rule The Forest as the Table of Five!”
“Ha, ha, ha!,” Navarre laughs. “Perhaps Albert Murphy was right after all!”



How inconvenient
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