Back to the castle, to find it even more changed than when we left. Even the tapestries have changed! That poor old hunchback is still lying, shot full of bolts, by the door. Remy pulls them out, and they guy wakes up! What?? We just left him there for days, unconscious!
He starts asking for his Master, then notices the curse has taken root and asks how long it’s been. We tell him a few days, and that his master and the crazy man (he says Van Helsing), are still running around the place. He says Van Helsing has a vendetta against his master, then starts listing off a bunch of weird names for him. Including Vlad the Impaler! What Is this guy? He also calls him the Prince of Caprathia or something, and Remy says that was 400 years ago. When we ask if his master is undead, he says ‘beyond death.’ Like that means anything.
Okay, but the castle? Can we fix it? He just laughs, but does agree that if the master leaves, he’ll take his curse with him. Every place he stays becomes his home, he says. Okay, how do we find him? Beyond the throne room, but all his servants will attack us if we haven’t sworn fealty to him. But we can’t swear fealty unless we find him. Oh great! He won’t even help us, says it’s against the rules! Ugh! Stupid adults and their stupid rules!
We leave him behind. Nat says she doesn’t know of any throne room, but maybe she can get us to a library where we can learn something more. She can’t, and we wander for a while, dispensing with various dogs, bats, and zombies in the hallways.
Heading back to the front entrance, we start over, mapping the first floor as best we can. This time we find a giant glass arboritum filled with impossibly green trees and plants. I hesitate at the door. I don’t… last time… there were so many bodies… Philomena calls back to me, taunting me to come in so she can have someone to banter with. Deep breaths, I can do this. It’ll be different this time. If she can do it, so can I. Nevermind that she’s riding atop her fiance turned giant scorpion.
There are eyes on us as we walk, but we can’t see the watchers. Klyce clacks a warning and we proceed carefully. Right into a clearing with an overgrown and blackened fountain. Where we are immediately surrounded by gigantic wolves and werewolves. The leader shouts “All glory to the Master!” as they attack.
The wolves breathe out ice! It nearly takes me down, and as soon as I can, I thunderstep Philomena and myself up into the trees. Gerhardt puts a bubble around the leader and his biggest wolf that lasts most of the fight. I eventually toss a few rocks up at the glass ceiling so I can call some lighting inside to help finish the fight. The werewolves all crumble to dust, leaving only the wolf corpses behind. How odd.
We take a few moments to rest and heal folks up while Nat looks around the fountain. She finds a key with a blue shiny gem in it. Pocketing that for later, we head on.
The trees give way to a manicured garden, full of the pungent smell of flowers and fruit. There’s another fountain here, but this one is fresh. There are frollicking nymps in the water and a demonic woman nestled in the arms of heroic statue. The nymphs dive into the water and disappear as soon as they see us approach.
I ask if she knows where the Master is so we can go swear our fealty to him, hoping to avoid another fight. She suggests we stay with her, to eat, drink, rest and have fun. Oh, um, sure, that sounds nice. I promised the hag that I’d always accept hospitality, so I try to get the rest of the group to agree. They aren’t so happy with the idea. Nat notices that she has a key around her neck and tells her that we need it. She asks what we’re offering for it, and when we waver, asks for a kiss. Nat’s not so keen on that.
She starts looking us over for something else to ask for, but when her eyes fall on Marybeth, she screams. Bloodfeud!!! And starts a fight.
She’s so pretty though, why would I want to hurt her. And her hugs are so nice. Okay, her kisses hurt a lot, but that’s okay. Everyone should just leave us alone. I toss a storm sphere out to keep the rest of the group away. Marybeth is mean to her, so I pull a couple lightning bolt out of the sphere to try and chase her away. Then there’s darkness as Dalish calls out dark words.
When I wake up, I still don’t feel good, and everyone insists we all take a long nap. I wake up from nightmares and remember I was going to ask Hank a question. So, I send to him, asking about the six-armed, green, glowing figure from the mine. Is that what the Green Witch looks like? He says yeah, he felt it happen, but it’s not time yet, and he’ll be in touch. I go back to sleep, but I don’t rest easy here.
When we get up, I feel a whole lot better. On from the greenhouse and find a grand hall with a big locked double door. Nat pulls out the two keys she gathered in the greenhouse, but there are spaces for four keys with different shaped gems. So, she tries to pick the lock on one of the ones she doesn’t have.
Black smoke pours out of this lock and forms into a hooded figure with a scythe. “Die, Interloper!” It shouts as it attacks her. Remy tries to help, but his shots just cause another one to form and attack him. “Do not interfere!” So, the rest of us sit back while these spectral figures carve up our friends, until they put them both down. Gerhardt patches them up after the fight, and we head on towards the kitchens.