The Clutch of Verthandi

The Second Death of Drohun Blackbarrow

The Crusaders break the curse of Drohun Blackbarrow, and find some other work along the way.

After consulting with Ophemet, the Scarlet Crusade heads southwest in search of Drohun Blackbarrow‘s undead body, in hopes of permanently putting the revenant to rest. On their way, the party encounters six scab cats, which are by turns grappled by Eoleo’s black tentacles spell, pummeled by Owen the horse, punctured by Niamh’s arrows, and zapped by lightning spells and axes.

Following the battle, the party immediately notices two rift drakes flying toward them – or rather, toward Owen. The party sets up an ambush around Owen, who is attacked by projectile acid, but with clever use of flight and invisibility, the team is able to take down both drakes, charming one to attack the other. The charmed drake reveals that his name is Kershwin, and agrees (while charmed) to accompany the Scarlet Crusaders to battle Blackbarrow.

The party is finally able to apprise their status and while healing up, Niamh and Rognar find that they have contracted Firegut from the scab cats’ claws. Niamh and Rognar decide that to try to ride it out and develop the first stage of immunity instead of using remove disease again, but they have to wait a day for it to manifest.

As the party continues on its way, they find it’s difficult to occupy the truculent drake, so they suggest that Kerhswin go entertain himself by wiping out the spriggans at the oasis, which he agrees to do only if he gets to keep all their loot for himself. While Kershwin is off hunting, Rognar and Niamh have a hard three days trying to fight off Firegut, but aren’t able to shake it by the end of the third day. Deciding they have spent too much time waiting, Eoleo is forced to dispel the disease. Still a day before Kershwin returns, the party is surrounded by a six-man gang of House Harlow outriders. The outriders proclaim that they are searching for two half-elves, a dwarf and a gnome fitting the team’s description, and despite official papers from Lord Ferrum and the party’s best attempts at bluffing, the outriders attack on the order to take them “alive if possible, dead if necessary.” Really a poor decision on the outriders’ part.

After some thorough trouncing (on the part of the Scarlet Crusade), some of the outriders attempt to flee to warn “Cowlick,” but are quickly nuked by fireballs. The rest are similarly dispatched while one surrenders. The complacent outrider, Rodin, divulges the identity of “Cowlick,” a.k.a. Val Korrick Redcliffe, the leader of the Scarred Hill Outriders. He also tells the team of an area covered in shadow that Blackbarrow is known to haunt, and that there’s a RED DRAGON residing in the area as well, much to the vexation of Shryllyx, whose territory borders this “Red Scourge.” In their amazement, the party asks Rodin why House Harlow never did anything about the red dragon in their territory, to which Rodin gives them a mumbling, bullshit sort of answer. Apparently, pursuing the Scarlet Crusade and nursing Syrion’s wounded pride is more important to House Harlow than saving their subjects from periodic dragon attacks.

When Kershwin finally returns, the party asks him about the dragon, to which he responds, “Bitch.” He then tells the party that her name is Karridane and she is in fact NOT a red dragon, but rather a chimera with dragon blood. The party then has a tough time deciding what to do with Rodin, and they finally decide to put him in Kershwin’s care, instructing him to kill Rodin if he tried to escape or harm the party.

The party makes its way closer to Blackbarrow’s territory, but as his name suggests, the land gets darker and darker, and a vicious windstorm ends the stint of good weather. In a tiny lean-to, the party spies a travel-worn man in a faded Harlow outrider uniform. Rodin reveals that this is Cotter, the former leader of the outriders before Val Korrick. After a terse exchange, Cotter allows the party to share his meal and his shelter as they agree to slay the chimera together once Blackbarrow has been put to rest. Because the storm impedes Kershwin’s flight, Rodin attempts to escape but is quickly nuked by Raleria’s fireball.

Rid of that unwanted baggage, Cotter accompanies the party to a dark vale in the heart of Blackbarrow’s haunted territory. The team beefs up on potions and enchantments before venturing farther. They soon see a small dark shape clawing meaninglessly at a sheer rock wall. When Eoleo calls to him, the revenant of Drohun Blackbarrow turns and shrieks, rendering Eoleo, Rognar, and Kershwin immobile from fear. Blackbarrow launches himself on Rognar’s cowering (though enlarged) person, and latches his long, sickly fingernails around his throat. Cotter and Niamh discover that only some of their ranged attacks land on his shifting, shadowy skin, so Eoleo casts dancing lights to dispel the effect. No longer cowering, Kershwin flees, the charm notwithstanding. Blackbarrow moves on to the next immediate threat, launching himself at Niamh. Raleria then pulls out Blackbarrow’s book, sending him into a fit of self-loathing. Rognar charges and slashes at his prone back, rendering him lifeless. To keep it that way, the team completes the ritual burial of Blackbarrow’s body at midday, hoping that’s the last they’ll see of his haunting presence.

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