In which we meet new friends and new enemies.
After locking ourselves in the Banewarrens using the most powerful magics Leto knows, we decided to study the artwork on the walls. It seemed appropriate that we should savor our time in this most dangerous of places. Frescoes adorned the walls in the entryway, though they were cracked with age and had obviously been damaged by earthquakes at some point. A haloed man in robes with a beatific expression faced a winged horse. The man wore a holy symbol of the Elder Gods on a chain around his neck; we decided that the man was a depiction of Danar himself, though it seems incongruous for a supposedly humble holy man to surround these objects with self-portraits. Perhaps he put them here after he began to be twisted.
The fresco was quite well made. Its eyes seemed to follow us about the chamber though, which was unsettling. And for just a moment – almost no time at all – I swear the Pegasus was a Nightmare. If Nadeira had not seen it as well, I would have assumed I needed a nap. We decided not to look at Danar out of the corner of our eyes – none of us had any desire to see his other face. The sighing of the hallways was bad enough with out evil beings staring at our backs.
A room filled with a blue mosaic had several sets of stairs and a hallway leading off of it. One room contained a non-functioning pit trap – something had apparently rigged it to fail. Anotehr room contained a fresco of a pastoral scene, complete with another Pegasus, though no other depiction of Danar. A third room was very large and circular, and contained an iron pillar in the center. The pillar contained a mechanism with four switched that controlled a platform holding a spiral stair. The stair lead to a chamber with another lever in it. Otto decided that the room was some sort of giant combination lock, and Leto assured me that it was both magical and dangerous.
We curbed our impatience and continued through the circular chamber toward another door. We followed a sickening smell down a corridor to find a flesh golem stumbling around in his own ichor. Though I know these creatures to be fearsome opponents, I cannot help wondering if we should have fought him to put him out of what seems a miserable existence.
The other doorway in the circular chamber led to a short hallway of iron doors. The entire hallway was a trap just waiting for us – when we opened one door, the other opened as well and we fought metallic scorpions both before and behind. The larger scorpion turned Otto to stone by spraying him with a gray gas. The smaller scorpions were tough, but no match for us. The larger, however, was fearsome indeed. We could not stop it without doing enormous damage, and there is no possibility of repairing it. This is a shame, for it was lovely in its deadly way.
After encountering a wide variety of traps, from which perils Nadeira competently saved us, we found a greater threat than any we had expected. A warding generator at the end of a long hall was winding down, losing its power to protect the Banewarrens. It was not yet fully depleted, and we had then some hope of restoring its function, but it was a blow nonetheless. Leto assured us that the wards would remain in place for some time after the generator was fully depleted, but insisted that we should increase our efforts to find the sealing rod and close the place.
After many attempts, Nadeira was able to expertly dismantle a particularly nasty frost trap we had encountered but not passed. It took her quite some time. At the top of that carefully guarded stair we found three small men made entirely of brass and clockwork. They would not speak to us, but their careful attention to our surroundings warned us of approaching danger. We were attacked by the hag who had earlier escaped our wrath. Just as we were about to slay her, she used the last remaining wish on her ring to return to her masters in the Quaan. Unfortunately two of the brass men were destroyed by fire in the battle.
We found one more brass clockwork figure in this place. His name was Castramanos, and he told us that he had been placed there as a caretaker by Danar himself. Castramanos had been damaged by some falling crates and was not able to see until we restored his gemstone eyes to their rightful places. We managed to patch together a makeshift crutch for him, but his leg was damaged beyond our ability to repair it.
Castramanos told us many things about Danar and the Banewarrens. From him we learned that Danar kept the rod to seal the warrens with him at all times, but on those rare occasions when he put it aside it was kept in the Baneheart. We found, too, that the Black Grail was kept there as well. We assisted the brass man to examine the warding generator. He thought he could make some repairs, but was genuinely concerned for the integrity of the entire prison if power should not be restored soon. He agreed to help us to achieve our goal of finding the sealing rod as much as he could; he gave us the combination required to get past the barriers to the inner vaults and told us what we could expect on the next segment of our journey.
We left Castramanos after assuring him that we simply needed some rest outside the gloom of this place. Unfortunately our handsome little plan of catching the Vlada’am party with the key to the Banewarrens triggered itself as we were leaving. We found ourselves at the very entrance facing Navana, whose blade dripped with fresh blood, and her two werewolf henchmen.
We never saw Castramanos alive again.