After recovering from the direwolf incidents, the party talks to the mage that was taken captive from the Orc mine by the exclusionary force sent out by the lord of Corinth. The mage is the one and the same that the party had previously fought when they were captives of the Orcs (nice to see a turn of tables). The man, Jaydar, reveals that Raz had planned on going to the ruined Bastar Keep to hunt for some long lost Talisman. What this Talisman is or does is unknown.
After hearing about Raz’s plan to go to Bastar Keep, the party quickly broke off, in the middle of the audience chamber, into their own little group, pulling out a map and discussing the best way to get to the ruined fortress. The soldiers, servants, and lord of Corinth were all to quick to ignore the bothersome adventurers who seemed to feel entitled to butt into their business. The party decided to ask if they could have some horses, as they decided hast was important, or if that were to fail, to pose as guards on a caravan out that way, so as to hide their presences from what the party fears to be a massive spy network. [DM’s note: to avoid confusion down the line, there, at this time, have been no spies captured or reported. This is not to say that they do or do not exist, only that the players have not encountered or heard of any potential spy or spy related activities.]
Visiting bars, taverns, and weapon smiths turned up nothing, so the party decided to head out on their own – but now it was late afternoon. Bear convinces the party that its better for them to head out now, traveling at night, which ends up putting the party on some crazy schedule. They walk all night, sleep all the next day, and then walk all the next night, only to be approached by a small pack of wolves. At this point in time, Xigraz (??) is barely able to stay awake on his feet, and as the wolves close in, Mori sets fire to a small bush in Xigraz’s stead. This jolts the gnome awake enough to cast a sleep spell on two wolves, while the other party members move out to attack the wolves not blocked by fire or asleep. The wolves flee as soon as the party members get near them. The fire starts to spread. The party walks away, leaving it burning. Once again the morality and inherit spirit of right and wrong in the party is called into question.
In the morning, the party stumbles into the city of Maynar, the party is rounded up by guards, and taken to Lorac for questioning. After a quick status update, he releases the party to continue on their way. Xigraz heads over to a library and pulls up a basic outline of the fortress. Everybody goes to sleep, still on their crazy schedule. Waking up at night, the party heads out once more, and pulls a super long walk, just like they did on the first day out of Corinth. They finally crash in the late morning, only to wake again at night and make the final leg of the journey to fort, although because it is night time, they don’t realize they’ve made it to the fort until they’re already upon it.
The walls of the fort are ruined, as are all the internal buildings save the keep. The party spots Raz at the door to the keep, where he is seemingly unaware of the party, and heads on in. Kory and Xigraz head for the door while Bare covers them with his bow. Mori heads over to Raz’s horse, and is pretty confused about what to do. He spends some time holding the reigns trying to figure out how to use this to the best advantage of the party, and decides to go hide the horse around the corner of the keep.
Inside the heart of the keep, the party proceeds carefully, if not slowly, until they come to the ruined main hall. The back wall is damaged and lets enough moonlight in that the party can see Raz head down a secret stairwell behind the throne. Leaving Mori to keep guard up top, the party heads down into the secret passage.
The room they enter has two stone gargoyles on either side of a set of large steel doors. Kory walks up to the doors, and the gargoyles slowly turn to look at him, and then proceed to attack viciously. The party’s weapons are useless it seems, as solid blows glance off their now unstony flesh. Mori hears the sounds of battle from uptop and turns to go down the stairs, only to be pushed down from behind by Raz (WTF? How’d he get up there if he went down first!?). Raz runs down stairs, and around the edge of battle (taking a blow from one gargoyle), and into the chamber beyond while the gargoyles are occupied with the party.
Xigraz falls, Bear runs past the gargoyles (taking a blow) and wounds Raz, who disappears in a scattering of sand. Kory falls. Mori is the only one left in the gargoyle chamber, and he decides to take off, only to notice the gargoyles stop paying attention to him once he’s beyond the stair case. The gargoyles turn their attention to the unconscious little folk, and start to tear them apart, bit by bit. Quickly, Mori dashes in and pulls the unconcious gnome from the battle, leaving him safely on the stair case. Bear distracts the gargoyles by coming out of the treasure room, since he can no longer see Raz, and falls to the gargoyle’s brutal claws, but gives Mori enough time to pull Kory to safety.
Mori, still exhausted from the odd hours, stares blankly at Bear, trying to figure out how to save him. Precious minutes filter by. Finally, Mori forces some potions down the throats of the dwarf and gnome, hoping that awake, they’ll be able to help more. The party watches helplessly while their half elf ranger is slowly shredded by the gargoyles who seem to be enjoying the suffering of their victim. Mori decides to down a potion of Giant Strength, and head upstairs, only to be knocked aside once again by an invisible Raz. This time, Mori chase the invisible creature up the stairs, grabs a huge bolder (with his now 19str) and hurlles it down the exit, hoping to crush the wizard with it. The rock crashes to the ground with no apparent affect, so Mori returns down stairs with rocks to throw at the gargoyles.
With is massive strength, Mori hurls rocks at the gargoyles, hoping to kill them or pin them to a wall, but it’s not working fast enough. Bears life is seeping away. Kory decides to be the heroic dwarf, and runs into the middle of the room to distract the gargoyles. This gives Kory a small window to rescue Bear by, and he takes it. As the gargoyles close in on Kory, he slips to the ground, causing them to completely miss the all but dead dwarf. With Bear dying on the stair case, Mori takes a moment to force feed him a potion, and in this time Kory makes as desperate attempt to get past the gargoyles to the stair case – but is struck down brutally. Now with only Xigraz slightly awake, Mori is once again in the position of two party members safe with him, and one being tortured, but this time the downed member is between him and the gargoyles, instead of the other way around.
Still not wanting to risk running into the room, Mori uses some of his free time to throw large rocks at gargoyles again. Eventually he gets a blow that kills one, which gives him enough room to rescue Kory. It’s close, but Kory is pulled to safety, potioned, and the entire party can breath a sigh of relief. After no more than a minute of rest, Mori grabs a few more large stones, and throws them at the remaining gargoyle who has resumed his statue form and post. The statue crumbles, and Mori takes his time to explore the room on the other side of the steel doors. Only the candles remain of the previous items, which include but are not limited to, a sword, scrolls, books, potions, and something that Raz took before Bear could get to him.
The party, mostly dead, down five healing potions and a potion of giant strength have clearly fallen for a trap set by Raz, and perhaps given him the opportunity to steal some items he wouldn’t have been able to get by himself. Once more the party is badly wounded, exhausted, and no closer to finding out the true objectives of this strange wizard. One thing they do know is that this is the second time Raz has used the party, putting them at great risk, to acquire something magical that was out of reach, and this time they only have some stupid candles to show for their efforts.