Having returned to Kaer Maga to raise Remmy and Laori from the dead, the Crimson Blades spend several days simply resting and recovering from their recent ordeal. Zandu goes out shopping for supplies and brings Kyra along, to get the excited halfling a new cloak of resistance. Arlynn spends her free time calling upon the power of her goddess to heal the sick of the Bottoms District.
The morning of their intended return to [[Scarwall], however, Irabeth steps out on the streets of Kaer Maga in a daze. When Arlynn inquires after her, Irabeth explains that she had a strange vision last night and feels she needs to go somewhere. The half-orc wanders off into the city, with Arlynn and Egan following warily behind.
Irabeth drifts towards the great walls of Kaer Maga, where a portly gnome has set up a shop selling massive hang gliders of wood and canvas. Perched around his shop is also an enormous flow of talking crows, calling out “Fly! Fly!” The gnome tries to sell them on his “man-kites,” promising that they “fly every time or your money back!”
Arlynn and Egan politely decline, while Irabeth takes a leap of faith off of the wall and emerges moments later on the back of a resurrected Princess. Laughing with joy, she cartwheels around the sky as the crows flutter off to join her and Egan takes wing as well.
Arlynn welcomes Irabeth and her mount back when they land, glad to see that the goddess has rewarded their continued devotion.
The Impossible Happens
Zandu teleports the party back to Mandraivus’ tomb and into the middle of a violent stand-off. A group of more than 30 orcs has surrounded Barky, snarling and brandishing their weapons just a stone’s throw from the treant’s long wooden arms. Barky explains that an army of orcs arrived at the gates of Scarwall and this smaller party marched up to confront him. He has kept them at bay by throwing stones at them, but is worried about their sharp axes. He warns that the orcs have sent a runner back to their main army.
Arlynn demands to speak to the orc leader, Warboss Mardak, who accuses the party of being spies from Lastwall seeking to rile up the evil spirits in the forbidden castle. Both Arlynn and Nox challenge the orc chief to single combat. The chief responds by insisting that they fight without weapons.
Eventually, Arlynn and Zandu are able to resolve the stand-off by proposing a strange alliance with the orcs: if Mardak and his men help them break the castle’s curse and allow them to retrieve the sword, they will turn Scarwall over to him. Arlynn also conditions the agreement on the orcs not tampering with Mandraivus’ tomb, which she claims is helping to suppress the curse. Irabeth, who acquiesces to the agreement only grudgingly, also demands that the orcs provide her with any information they might have on her father’s identity.
Once the deal has been struck, Mardak returns to his army’s camp by the barbican while the party spends the night warily resting within the tomb of Mandraivus. The following day, they meet up with the suspicious orcs and begin advancing up the causeway towards the castle. Mardak sends a wave of goblins in to secure the gates. After they’ve breached the perimeter, Arlynn suggests that the orc leader join them in fighting Mithrodar—which he unfortunately accepts.
Mithrodar’s Throne Room
Joined by Mardak and his bodyguards, the party rolls up to the Great Hall of Scarwall. Zandu enlarges Nox and Earth-Egan shapes a hole in the wall for the giant to advance through while Arlyn kicks down the door.
Inside, they find that Mithrodar has assembled a mob of zombies, skeletons, and skeletal minotaurs to help protect him. Big Nox clomps forward to breach their defenses with a few swings from his enlarged sunblade. Arlynn then steps into the gap to channel positive energy, obliterating the lesser undead and leaving only the skeletal minotaurs—and Mithrodar.
The chain spirit calls on Pegg and Loute, the pantomiming ghosts, who start dancing through the hall and inflicting their maddening appearance on the party. Mithrodar cackles and then drops through the floor, despite Arlynn’s best efforts to stop him.
While the rest of the party finishes off the ghosts and minotaurs, Earth-Egan sinks through the stone floor to chase after the chain spirit.
Aware of the threat from Pegg and Loute, the Crimson Blades quickly bring them down. The minotaur skeletons put up a fight, trying to barrel over the adventurers, but eventually their bones are cleaved to pieces.
Cornering the Rat
The screams of Mardak’s orcs echo throughout the castle as the unbound chain spirit tears through them. Judging from the echoes, Nox reckons that Mithrodar has retreated to the ballroom. The Crimson Blades race towards the western wing of Scarwall, passing the bodies of a squad of orcs (which elicits only a sneer from Mardak).
The adventurers catch up with Earth-Egan just outside of the ballroom. While the others plan the attack, Zandu hangs back with Kyra, altering self into halfling form and getting flirty with her.
Earth-Egan scouts ahead warily, sensing that Mithrodar has retreated to the far end of the ballroom. Arlynn tenses herself to rush inside, but Mardak charges in first. The orc warlord swings at the chain spirit, but accomplishes little. Arlynn advances after him, attracting the attention of some spectres that swarm around her. However, the paladin is able to draw a circle of protection against evil around Mithrodar, trapping him in place.
Nox then moves into the room, holding his sunblade aloft to weaken the spectres. The remaining spectres swarm out into the hallway to attack Ashla and Irabeth—and interrupting Halfling-Zandu and Kyra’s cozy chat. However, the rest of the party is able to defeat the angry spirits.
Within the ballroom, Nox cuts down the bound Mithrodar. The chain spirit wails and shrieks as he is defeated, and then his body twists and spirals as if caught in a vortex. A heartbeat later, he is gone. After a few moments, the walls of the castle begin to shimmer and brighten as the shadows that cling to every inch of the cursed structure fade. The sound of countless sighs whisper in the ear, and the oppressive sense of menace overlaying the structure fades.
The Last Ghost of Scarwall
A few moments later, a small luminescence forms before the party. It rapidly increases in brightness until a figure manifests before them, a confused-looking human male in early adulthood. He wears finely cut, if long-out-of-style clothing and is clearly a nobleman of some sort.
As the figure looks around and notices the adventurers, his ghostly flesh strips away, revealing raw muscle and bone below as if he were being flayed by invisible knives. However, after being reduced in such a horrible fashion, his skin reappears a moment later only to start the process all over again.
The ghost introduces himself as Count Andachi of Tamrivena and thanks them for what they have done today. He confesses that it was he who sent Kazavon into Belkzen and when the warlord went rogue, the young count waited long before attempting and then failing to stop him. Kazavon had him skinned alive for his trouble, leaving his soul bound to the foul castle.
Andachi describes Mandraivus’ defeat of Kazavon, his decision to split up the dragon’s relics, and his efforts to contain the castle’s evil which were undone by the orc attack eight hundred years ago. Andachi praises the party for breaking the castle’s curse, but senses their work is far from done.
“I have dwelt in Kazavon’s echo for too long not to feel his strength, his influence, take seed in your queen, so far away,” the ghostly count says. “Strange names that I do not know are in my head. Korvosa. Ileosa. Your own. Kazavon quickens in your home, and you must recover Serithtial if you are to cast him down as surely as you have cast down his presence here. Yet the agents of the Midnight Lord know of the threat Serithtial poses to his child. While they cannot destroy the sacred blade, nor even take it far from this place without invoking the wrath of Iomedae…they can hide it.”
“I can still feel a presence in this place, a power linked to the Midnight Lord," Count Andachi warns. "It remains in the Star Tower, once Kazavon’s inner sanctum. I see that here, in the deepest heart of Scarwall, your goal lies hidden. A fragment of Scarwall’s curse lingers there, lodged and stubborn. When the curse held sway, this way was blocked to you. Now, seek it out, and it shall lead you to your goal. And now, with my time here at an end, your time shall at last begin….”
The end of his speech coincides with the completion of one of his ghostly mutilations, except this time his form does not rejuvenate. Instead it crumples and slowly fades from view.
Arlynn, Nox, and Zandu pointedly question Laori and Sial about the ghost’s claims that Kuthites hid the sword. The two clerics claim to know nothing of this, though they acknowledge the sword is a great danger to their church and were it not for the greater need to recover Kazavon’s relics, it would be best to leave it hidden.
Into the Star Tower
The Crimson Blades rest for the remainder of the day in the western wing of the castle, secure inside Sial’s bone house. The adventurers rouse at midnight and dine on another heroes’ feast provided by Laori. Then they make their way across the courtyard to the donjon and advance into the Star Tower through the secret door on the second floor. Egan confirms that despite its obsidian-like appearance, the tower is not made of stone.
Exploring the interior, they stumble across a bloodstained bedchamber. Ashla deduces that the room is the scene of a centuries-old crime, seemingly untouched by time. A human was murdered here, slowly and painfully, but the body is nowhere to be found.
The adventurers come across two sets of stairs, one leading up and one leading down. They take the upper staircase first, which takes them to the cavernous top floor. The room stands empty, save for a footscrew lying on the floor, which they destroy.
After searching the empty upstairs, the Crimson Blades head down below onto a strange new level of the tower. The walls and floor of this chamber have a strange organic texture, appearing almost like black decaying flesh streaked with glistening swaths of blood. Four pillars carved to look like coils of entwined arteries and spinal cords support the ceiling—nails and surgical tools are embedded in these pillars at key and painful-looking positions. At the base of the stairs is a ten-foot-diameter open shaft filled with thick bluish mist. Zandu and Kyra hang back on the stairs, while the rest of the party warily explores the room.
As they approach the well of blue fog, a voice suddenly purrs inside their minds. “Welcome, travelers, to the Star Tower of Scarwall. I am Ildervok, custodian of this place for the past eight centuries. Long have I waited for a mortal to venture into the tower and take up the post of Curate. One of you must fill this role before the rest may continue.”
The adventurers look around, but cannot see the speaker. Zandu reacts by turning invisible himself, while Kyra uses her ring of invisibility.
“I sense two followers of the Midnight Lord among you,” Ildervok says. “Surely one of them will volunteer for the hallowed position of Curate.”
Sial jabs a finger at Laori. “It should be you who volunteers, Disciple Vaus, to atone for your sins. You’ve grown far too close to these heathens and have strayed from our Lord’s calling.”
“I’ve been carrying out ZK’s command to retrieve the relics of Kazavon,” Laori retorts, “while you’ve done nothing but complain and dally with your chain devil. You’re the one who should be Curate, you old sourpuss! It’d be the first useful thing you’ve done in this castle!”
“What exactly is the Curate anyway?” Ashla calls out to Ildervok, while Arlynn quietly casts discern lies.
“The Curate is the living soul of this Star Tower,” the creature intones. "The Curate lives until the End Times, or until violence necessitates a replacement, and watches over the Star Tower. The Curate is the Star Tower. It is an honor to even be considered for the role, and to be selected and reject it is to spit in the Midnight Lord’s eye.”
As the two clerics continue to trade insults, Nox steps forward. “Sial, you’re the senior cleric here. The honor and the duty really should go to you.”
The Shadowcount ignores him, glaring instead at Laori. “Impudent child! You will fall on your knees and beg to be Curate by the time I’m finished!”
Sial whips out his spiked chain while Laori grabs for hers. Nox draws his own sword.
“If it’s coming to blows, Sial,I’m standing with Laori,” the mercenary says.
“Everyone calm down!” Arlynn shouts. She casts her gaze about the room, looking for Ildervok. “If you need a Curate to sustain the Star Tower, we can go find you one. I’m sure Mardak would be happy to volunteer a goblin.”
“No, it must be one of you,” the creature chuckles. “And it looks like your Kuthite friends are about to resolve the question, one way or the other.”
Spells fly and swords flash as Sial and Asyra battle with Laori and Nox.
“If there is no other way to resolve this, then so be it,” Arlynn says, marching forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with the mercenary and the elf. She swats aside an attack from the Shadowcount. “You are outmatched, Sial. Take your place as Curate and I swear we will carry out our promise to return the Midnight’s Teeth to your church.”
Wounded and short of breath, Sial throws his spiked chain to the ground. Beside him, Asyra retracts her chains.
“Your promises are as hollow as your loyalty, paladin,” Sial sneers. He calls out to the darkness. “Ildervok, take me under your protection! I will serve as Curate.”
Ildervok congeals out of the shadows, taking shape as an enormous bat-like creature shaped of utter darkness with tiny red pinpoints for eyes.
“It is good to see such piety still exists even in the most wayward soul,” the creature smiles. He turns his malevolent gaze towards the elf maiden and extends a clawed hand black as night. "Dark Disciple Laori Vaus, you are welcome to journey with me to Xovaikain and testify against the traitor Sial in the palace of the Midnight Lord himself.
“Oh,” Laori blinks, gaping at the hand. “Wow. I, uh, don’t know what to say…”
She glances back at the Crimson Blades uncertainly.
Nox shakes his head. “Don’t do it, Laori.”
“Would she be able to return to us once her testimony is done?” Arlynn asks the nightwing. She concentrates her discern lies spell on him.
“Perhaps,” Ildervok says. The paladin can feel the lie like a slap in the face.
“Stay with us, Laori,” she urges. “After all, someone still needs to return Kazavon’s teeth to Nidal.”
Laori nods. “You’re right. I’m sorry, Mr. Ildervok, but I can’t go with you. I have to serve ZK here, on this quest, with my friends.”
“Your decision has been noted,” the creature says coolly. It reaches out with it’s claws to collect Sial and Asyra, but hesitates before departing. Its red eyes survey the Crimson Blades. “Know that you have nothing further to fear from the Midnight Lord, heroes of Korvosa. He desires that Kazavon’s spirit be removed from your petty young queen as much as anyone, for such a fate does not befit even a fragment of one of his mightiest warlords. The blade you seek has been taken by the Children of Rovagug who dwell deep below the Star Tower. If you step into the shaft of blue fog, you will be transported to those deep chambers where the weapon has languished. I trust you can see to the rest.”
With that, the creature collects Siall and Asyra in its talons. As it vanishes with the two of them, Asyra can be heard saying “Finally” in Shadowtongue
Left alone in the Star Tower, the party takes stock of the situation. Arlynn collects Sial’s abandoned spiked chain.
“I just— I wanted to thank you guys for backing me up,” Laori says to Nox and Arlynn. "I don’t know if I made a mistake or not turning down Ildervok’s offer.
“You didn’t,” Arlynn interjects.
“But now that it’s done, I’m with you all the way to the finish,” the elf concludes. “You guys are the best friends I’ve had, like, ever. Way more cool than Sial. Blech.”
While the dispute between the Kuthites rages, Halfling-Zandu and Kyra sneak across the chamber to the well of blue fog and leapt into it. They immediately began falling through the fog, with Kyra holding onto to Halfling-Zandu for dear life (and perhaps a bit more). The sorcerer’s ring of featherfall activates and they gently float through the mist for just a very short while before emerging at what seems to be the bottom of the tower.
Once the fate of Sial and Laori is determined, the rest of Crimson Blades realize that the gnoll and the halfling are missing. Guessing where they’ve gone to, the rest of the party makes their own leap into the blue fog. They emerge at the bottom of the tower as well, but not all at the same time. Laori takes significantly longer to fall through the mist than the rest of them.
The blue fog covers the ceiling of the bottom chamber, which is otherwise completely bare. Its only feature is a single stone door at one end. Once the Crimson Blades have regrouped, Zandu throws the door open with a gesture.