Donovan teleported back to Three Falls to inform the party of Tamera’s kidnapping. They resolved to try to rescue her before continuing. So they rested and teleported back to Valens, where the Ravengards called home and began to gather some more information.
They first decided to check up on the Order of the Phoenix Guildhall, to see if there was word of Portia. To their surprise, it was now guarded by people in black armor – including Meric, who was now wearing a holy symbol of Tiernach. Cassandra asked if Portia was around. Meric hedged a bit before replying that Portia was safe, but was out of the city on business. What kind of business, he couldn’t discuss. He did, however, offer to buy Donovan and Ari’s shares of the Order of the Black Phoenix. Donovan eagerly sold his for 10,000 pieces of gold, but Ari refused. Still, Meric claimed he would get them eventually. It appeared that the guild had been hijacked by the Church of Tiernach.
Donovan then encountered another person dressed in the garb of the Ravengard family, and interrogated him with an enchantment. He confirmed Tamera’s location at the manor, and received the disturbing news that she was in chains. He decided to try and play his enemies against each other, and sent the man to the Order of the Black Phoenix to demand tribute for the Ravengard family.
Augustus went to the Church of Lucia, and explained the situation to High Priest Dalton. After a day of waiting, the Priest told him that the Church could not help him without additional proof – however, since they trusted him, they would support any course of action he chose to take.
The group surveyed the Ravengard manor and began to plan. They finally came to the conclusion that stealth would be wasted here, and resolved to storm the manor. They busted down the front door, punched the man dressed as a butler, and fought past a golem and magic traps before entering the keep behind the manor. Here, they were met with opposition from the butler and other members of the household, who seemed incredibly skilled in combat. They were no match for the party, however. With some sword swings and some spells that damaged the structural integrity of the keep, they were dispatched.
They proceeded to the next floor of the keep, which appeared to contain a bunch of holding cells…and Tamera’s brother, Larkin, along with more members of his clan. Larkin offered to trade Tamera for the Eye of Sidhe. The party refused, and a battle ensued. Larkin was a nimble fighter, and engaged Augustus one-on-one, while his men focused on the rest. The battle did not start well for the party, as Larkin was able to disarm Augustus, while Donovan found that his Bolt Tunic did not function. They slowly climbed back on top – finally, Larkin received a grievous wound, and retreated in haste. They dispatched the rest, save for one, who offered to bargain his life for Tamera’s location. They released him after he told them. However, a moan from one of the cells revealed his lie – Tamera was inside, wrapped in blue glowing chains, and apparently injured. The chains did not come off easily.
Though the levels went deeper, the party resolved to get out while they could, and went back up the stairs. However, the rest of the Ravengards were waiting for them on the first floor: A short, lithe woman who shared Tamera’s big brown eyes twirled a wickedly curved short sword that was dripping with a dark green substance. Beside her stood Larkin – apparently freshly healed from the last battle, and ready for some revenge punches. Behind them stood an imposing man in a black cloak with a feathery collar and shoulders. He carried a staff in one hand – tall and golden, with an eye emblem at the top – and a blade of light in the other hand.
The man smiled, and said, “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lord Erasmus Ravengard. This is my oldest daughter, Juliana, and you’ve already met my son Larkin. Now…if you would be so kind, please return the Eye of Sidhe. I’ve been watching you – you have had a net positive effect on the realm thus far. I would be loath to end it by being forced to pry the Eye from your cold fingers.”
The party refused. Lord Ravengard continued his appeal.
“I don’t think you understand. We need the Eye for the protection of the realm. I believe a great calamity will soon befall the kingdom. Perhaps I can avert it by using the Eye. The situation was well under control, but this woman, Lady Portia Aribitrium, threatens to unravel all of our careful planning. She is under the protection of the Dread God Tiernach – only the Eye, in the proper hands, can pierce his veil. As for the Knight herself…the Lady has power, but desires more, and will plunge the continent into Chaos to get it. And the realm will bleed. Please, surrender the Eye, and we can work together to stop her.”
The party refused again, to Juliana’s apparent delight. “I’ve gotten good at killing Paladins.” At this point, the group remembered Tamera voicing her belief that her sister had killed King Arturos. Tamera was set down, and the battle began. Though the party was battered and nearly out of spells, they fought bravely. Cassandra’s Flame Strikes put another few holes in the roof, Juliana was soundly smitten by Augustus, and Larkin was wounded enough to attempt retreat again. Lord Ravengard himself casted mostly defensive spells, until he fireballed the party, apparently not caring that his children were caught in the blast.
Finally, he was able to catch most of the party in a cage of pure force, when he decided to resume negotiations. Donovan elected to teleport himself and Augustus out of it instead, and the fight resumed. Lord Ravengard unleashed a frightening spell at this turn of events – with a burst of magic, most of the party’s magical equipment was disenchanted, leaving them at a fraction of their strength. It did manage to free the rest of the party from imprisonment, and against all odds, the party managed to land a killing blow.
At this point, Lord Ravengard clutched at his wounds, black blood seeping between his fingers. As it hit the ground, it seemed to turn to smoke. Soon, his entire body dissipated into a black swirling mist, which grew larger and larger. The skies darkened to nearly black as the figure took a humanoid form, and gripped a shadowy staff resembling the one dropped at his feet. Augustus’s sword began to glow, similar to when he fought the zombie God, and the party dove right back in for round 2. However, they were low on resources, and the ethereal creature proved hard to damage. The party began to fall.
When it started to seem hopeless, an unlikely savior appeared – Portia and Meric burst through the door. Meric began to heal the damaged party, and Portia, dressed in black form-fitting armor and carrying her sword two-handed as her old Scythe floated around her, joined Augustus in attacking the monstrosity Lord Ravengard had become. With this extra support, the monster was defeated in short order, leaving no body.
Ari asked Meric what he was doing here.
“A member of his clan arrived at my door and threatened us. The Order of the Black Pheonix doesn’t take such threats graciously.” Meric replied. He turned to Donovan. “Oh, stop looking so pleased with yourself Donovan, I knew that was your work. He was obviously enchanted. We killed him anyway, of course, and then used the attack as an excuse to retaliate against Ravengard. One of our scouts saw the roof of the keep burst open, so we decided to take advantage of the confusion. Apparently Ravengard couldn’t see everything coming. Anyway, we did save your lives, so you could be a little grateful.”
Cassandra was shocked to see her sister, and asked her where she’s been, and if the stories about her serving Tiernach were true. Portia confirmed them, and said she’d be doing work for the Order of the Black Phoenix. “I’ve been doing work all over – soon we’ll be bigger than those Emerald Gauntlet assholes.”
Cassandra flipped. “But Tiernach is evil! How could you do this?”
Portia shrugged. “Look, you’re always telling me that serving reidman made you part of something bigger than yourself, well, now I have that, too. I think you’re just jealous that it doesn’t make you special anymore.”
Cassandra stood with her mouth agape as Portia walked away. “Anyway, it’s been nice seeing ya, sis, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. Man, this place would make a great base.”
The party sustained many physical, mental and emotional wounds, and it was clear they’d need some downtime before they were ready to get back on the trail.