Skeletons and Piles of Damn Books
As the adrenaline dies down, we hear a door handle to the South being opened. I run to attempt to block it, but decide to time a push into the room to coincide with a pull from whatever is behind the door. The door bursts open causing the skeleton behind it to stumble and fall, and I'm jumped by two more skeletons from my flank. Sharna leaps to sweep one of the skeletons before punching a third.
Ugnan steps in and some blows are exchanged before I manage to get in a crunching swing that sends a skeletal arm wheeling away and ends by severing a few skeletal toes. "That ain't going anywhere fast", I muse as I disengage back to the corridor to help Cherry who is facing a skeleton alone and barely armed.
Sylke panics as she steps up to help Ugnan, himself floundering with his new hand axe, and fumbles a Shock Bolt: A small electrical discharge fizzling out from her fingers. I receive a glancing blow from the new skeleton's sword, fortunately choosing to attack me rather than Cherry. My follow-up swing crunches through ribs and takes a chunk out of its pelvis. And Cherry pulls off a stunning head-shot with a blackjack that drives the skeleton's head into its shoulders, dropping it in a clatter of bones.
Sylke attempts to sweep a skeleton next to Ugnan, but almost trips herself with the effort, as she mutters something most un-ladylike! Sharna swings one over her hip and rips an arm off, before I jog back to Ugnan and destroy the creature with a blow that separates its legs from its body, both flexing weirdly at the knees as they skid into the centre of the room. Sharna flings the final skeleton against a table with such force that it separates his head from his neck. The three are finished.
As we catch our breath again we study the room. A long table is littered with dusty glassware and what appear to be scraps of fur and hide. Small animal bones have been swept into a pile under the table; the broom lies discarded nearby. A smaller worktable has tools and surgical implements , all are dusty. A small notebook lies face down on the table. The notebook was written by Tobias Orgillion.
Tobias' notebook and diary reveal much about the fate of Hywel and his family (suicide). Tobias carefully notes his discovery of these workrooms – long locked by his father and the discovery of his Grandfather's obsession with summoning and binding a demon. A few months before his death Titus describes a, "dangerously exciting discovery", in which he finally created a portal to the realm of "Azydaer". The portal and a lesser summoning informed Titus of a powerful and inquisitive demon called "T'Chaga" who apparently was willing to help the Ogrillion family in return for his freedom.
As Ugnan and Sylke continue to study the notebook they learn much. Tobias describes repeating the ritual though there are no details in this notebook. T'Chaga was bound to the pentagram and the helped Tobias understand and master many of the minor grimoires that his grandfather had used. However, the major tomes and more powerful oracular rituals were not present in any of his grandfather's books and Tobias became angry that T'Chaga would not help find these. On the day of his death, Tobias' last diary entry is his note that, "perhaps time spent with the old ogre will give me an insight as to where he hid those wretched books. T'Chaga will not help and his insatiable demands for food are getting boring. At least he cannot leave the manor and pester the ignorant peasants."
Through a door to the eastern side of the top floor Sharna comes across a worrying scene. A large arcane symbol has been carefully carved into the floor and filled in with a dull red metal. Around the outside of the circular symbol there are abstruse symbols. The room smells strongly of copper. As we move into the room, Ugnan strolls to the centre of the summoning circle and detects scuffs and marks that have broken the summoning lines in several places.
As Sylke enters and sees the summoning circle, she stops and gasps audibly. She pats down her dress after a few beats and haughtily walks to place her back to it. "You OK Sylke?", I offer, concerned. Sylke points at a trickle of blood coming out of Cran's wound. "That's just blood. Your wound looks deeper." Sylke just mutters, "Hmmm? Uh…Uhhh, yes. Thanks." "We'll talk later Sylke. No point trying to hide stuff from your friends my old dad used to say." Something to pick at later.
After Cherry was unable to pick a lock, I use my 'axe-pick' successfully and, beyond the splinters, we view a store room, crates stamped with, "Property of the Honourable Guild of Spice Merchants".
Cherry leads us to the last unexplored area. Dust covers both the tables and the alchemical glassware in a work room. There are many scorch marks on the floor but these are old. Cogs, chains and various pieces of brass litter the room. Two large tarpaulins are heaped against the wall and partly conceal what appears to be a metallic humanoid. Around the humanoid, an elaborate silver circle has been inlaid into the floor and then detailed with delicately traced runes The humanoid's head appears to contain a pulsing green gem.
Sylke walks forward to investigate the runes and encounters some stiff resistance preventing her crossing the silver runic circle. As she forces her body further into the circle, Sharna and Ugnan notice that the runes in the circle pulse faintly as she enters.
I move a hand to shift the tarp off the construct and the resistance Sylke experienced appears to be weakening. The tarp falls to the floor, but we learn nothing new about the automaton. After further experimentation we realise that the circle seems to offer more resistance to spell users. We confirm this when Cherry moves to fully enter the circle, and the water bottle containing Lyssa vibrates violently. Pausing all movement we stop to check on her and she speaks faintly that she is very tired. Is the circle draining magic?
We conclude that the last few generations of the Orgillions appear to have gone off the rails. Titus seems to have been dabbling in forging constructs; Hwyell and his wife committed suicide and Tobias wandered off into the marshes never to be seen again. After the Orgillions' wealth melted away, Deltar stepped in, trading slaves for arms and accumulating his wealth.
Stumped for a while we look search out the window and Cherry spots that the croft we noticed coming in is actually a mausoleum. We leave the construct-room and lock and door, obscuring it with a bookcase.
To the crypt? To the crypt bollocks! Bloody Ugnan wants to look for some more books.
The books are Spice Merchant in origin and look into the Great Dragons of Emer, guarding/seeking, "The Heart of Agosh". The Cloots, Damssens and Orgillions seem to have strong differences of opinion on the motivation and purpose of the dragons. An unknown Orgillion notes that, "Whoever posses the heart will have taken the soul of Mab and will forever be cursed."
Before we leave we search the library at the top of the stairs. Amongst the books, we find a few laboratory-style notebooks. Handwritten and faded with time there are numerous mechanical and engineering sketches – tiny cogs, intricate gear mechanisms and delicate levers are all beautifully illustrated and annotated. It seems clear that Titus Orgillion was obsessed with clockwork mechanisms and wanted to build a clockwork human simulacra.
Some diaries are also, and perhaps rather oddly, stored amongst the notebooks and engineering texts. These belong to Titus Orgillion and Tobias Orgillion, his grandson. Titus records his frustrations with his research into producing clockwork servants and then his delight at discovering the "mad scribblings" of the Damssen twins.
"Amongst the gibberish about the tolling of an iron bell, it seems they had uncovered a means of summoning an extraplanar creature who possesses much knowledge about the future." Dated 5942.
Tobias writes, "The ritual to summon T'Chaga is rather horrible but I am convinced that the only way I can save the family from a life of utter poverty is to complete my work on producing clockwork servants." Dated 5943
"The damned ritual is most difficult to repeat with multiple human sacrifices but I cannot fathom how many or how they are to be "displayed". It seems that T'Chaga is quite particular. The twins left little practical information in their scribblings, perhaps the old asylum records will help. I shall endeavour to obtain these next month." Dated 5949
"Success! Though I could only maintain the portal for a while. it is clear to me that if I can stabilise this portal I will be able to summon T'Chaga and perhaps draw him into a confinement of my design." Dated 5966
The rest of Titus' entries fail to reveal how he stabilised the portal but do make clear his growing frustrations with T'Chaga – his last recorded entry is 5972.
Titus sent letters to Einwen and Hope Cloot (aka Old Mother Cloot) asking for financial assistance "in remembrance of the close friendship our families have long enjoyed", and there is some reference to this in his diaries. There are no details about the summoning ritual and one of his diaries is missing; this covers the period between 5962 and 5965.
To the Crypt
After a break where Ugnan brews up some Rewk for my concussion, we head to the Crypt. Hadn't noticed before, but this Rewk makes you feel great - on top of the healing benefits, it gives you a feeling a bit like a few brandies. I wonder if it can be chewed too?
We walk to the crypt, secured with a huge Oak door and massive chain and padlock. Fortunately the large key we found in the Mansion fits and we're soon inside.
Beyond the doors, a set of stone steps lead down below into a circular chamber perhaps 30 feet in diameter, the stone walls are sculpted in relief, portraying grotesque visages. A number of wooden coffins fill niches set in the walls. A set of stone stairs leads off this chamber to a set of open doors. Four plinths hold four objects of different shapes.
I spot a key on the floor, but as I stoop to investigate we hear the entrance door close behind us. We're trapped in. The only way is onward.
A short tunnel to the right leads down to a vaulted chamber, in the corner of which is a stone sarcophagus that sits on a raised dais. Seated around the chamber on a narrow stone ledge are the remains of armored men, all covered in cobwebs and dust. The door to the chamber looks to have been opened in the timeframe of Tobias hasty exit. An inscription reads, "Adolphus, mightiest of Merchant-Princes', his sword built Sel-kai. 1638 – 1689."
A little further in and down some more stairs, we enter a large chamber with plinths on the floor, four contain small depressions; and between the four we find a mummified corpse of a young male, long bones splintered by some horrible magic. This has to be Tobias, killed by some old magic trap.
Believing that the small depressions may be designed for the four objects on plinths in the entrance chamber, we go and retrieve them. As we lift the last one clear we hear and feel a deep grinding as another door opens or closes somewhere deep in the crypt…