A Fistful of Coppers

Dretchlor the Unrelenting

The demons, that’s what Starch had said they were, had appeared out of nowhere. Then, once slain, they reanimated and attacked again. Xiang was not lying when he spoke of evil emanating from this spot.
We made our way through the trees, the mansion finally emerging through the mist. The ground around the house was strewn with debris, the windows darkened with filth. The roof was missing several shingles, which littered the ground. The remains of an old wagon turned on its side lay to the east. A nearby tree had toppled onto the overgrown path to the house.
Dutch decide that he and the Redshirts would stay behind and watch for anyone or anything to leave the house. I attempted to peer into one of the windows near the front entrance, but the window was much to filthy to see into. We circled around to the back yard of the mansion searching for a side entrance or broken window to sneak into. We found a small wooden door in the back which opened easily enough with a little help from Starch’s boot. We cautiously entered a small room with an open doorway covered by a drapery on the far wall. As we stood there listening, Starch picked out the language to be goblinoid. Pulling the curtain aside we came face to face with what appeared to be an acting troupe of goblins in completely outlandish costumes. The room had a hazy air about it which I immediately recognized by the smell. Talcum Powder. All the goblins had powdered wigs on! While I am a big fan of theater, not so much goblins and we attacked. What we had anticipated to be an easy fight turned out to be quite difficult. It seemed the goblins were imbued with some sort of demonic power. they seemed to call down some blackish-purplish energy as they increased in size and ability. It was all we could do to keep on our feet!
Setting up a watch in this room, I strummed my lyre as the party bound their wounds. Carric found a not wrapped up by the harpsichord in the corner.
My artifacts have returned. The disturbance from the Chalice is worsening; I fear it will drive me mad! Worse, still is the effect it is having on the skull. The creature is restless, and I fear it will soon try to make its escape. I have dismissed all of the servants to protect them from what is coming.
Xiang nodded his head sagely at the mention of the Chalice and the swamps. I kept waiting for him to do an "I told you so dance, " I even had some background music prepared for him to dance to, but he never did.
Starch lead the way down the narrow creaking hallway and we discovered something that we soon realize to be a regular feature in this mansion. Pit traps. Poor Starch was in front of me and then he wasn’t . He toppled into a silvered cage that was suspended in the ceiling of the mansion’s basement level. Fortunately for Starch, he wasn’t allergic to silver, it was a short drop and a bit of rope and assistance allowed him to return to us on the first floor.
Making it down the hallway and avoiding the other pit traps we came out into a large library. Compared to what we had so far seen of this mansion this room was quite inviting—and occupied. Turning the corner of the row of books was a dwarf. She stood no taller than Beau and her mustache rivaled Delwyn’s. She introduced herself as Kilgoria of Clan Fangcrunch. She was a hunter who had chased some “scaly beast” into this mansion several days ago and had become quite enamored with the books and had stayed. And stayed, and stayed. For several days. Losing all interest in her prey, ignoring the presence of the powdered goblins and apparently oblivious to the fact that she was in a stranger’s house. I looked over a Carric and shrugged. I really have to get him to teach me that message cantrip. Instead, I moved with him to a different section of the library. He claimed he sensed no magic in the room holding the dwarf to it. She was pleasant enough to talk to , but absolutely no help in our quest for the rams head. She offered no resistance when we investigated the books with her. It was just curious that she was there. But then , as we continued on through the mansion, we discovered may curious things. As I continued to pick through the books (a small part of me sympathized with Kilgoria) I found an interesting one. Bound all in red, the title was “To Catch a Soul Thief.” it was full of blank pages save one which read: True Name of Protection: Armor.
Leaving the library and Kilgoria behind, we made our way into what must have been a bedroom, sparsely furnished. The walls however were stunningly beautiful, artwork depicting demons and angels, knights and great battles between good and evil decorated them.
As we continued on through the mansion we found another crumbled note:
My artifacts have returned. The disturbance from the Chalice is worsening; I fear it will drive me mad! Worse still is the effect it is having on the skull. The creature is restless, and I fear it will soon try to make its escape. I have dismissed all of the servants to protect them from what is coming.
Again, I looked at Xiang-Chi. Again, I saw nothing but a poker faced blank stare. Had it been me, the obvious reference to the Chalice in the swamp that the Lizard King was looking for would have been all I needed to serve up a big helping of “I told you so,” to all our friends. But, nothing, nothing at all, and what exactly, I wondered did the note mean when it talked about the creature being restless? We would all soon find out.
Continuing on through the mansion we came to a room you would expect in every mansion; the bar. Surprisingly dust and cobweb free, this room was also occupied by a rather sociable and rather drunken knight by the name of Galantis. Seems that Galantis had lost his honor somewhere along his way in life and somehow stumbled here into this mansion. Again, this man appeared to have been here for several days, oblivious to the fact that he was in someone else’s house, drinking someone else’s whiskey, lounging on someone else’s couch, surrounded by someone else’s powdered goblins! He spoke about lost honor, and asked us to play the harp in the corner of the room. It was a beautiful instrument, but not one I have ever played before. Starch however, sat right down and started plucking out a tune. The drunken knight was pleased, but otherwise he proved largely useless, like most drunken knights that hang out in haunted mansions tend to be.
Heading down into the basement, we found many rooms that were similar to the ones on the first level. There were many more paintings and frescos adorning the walls and ceilings, of demons and white knights, that told epic stories of battles between good and evil. In one of the rooms there was a large storage trunk and lying near it a dead body of a young man. He was flat on his back and covered in stab wounds. Further inspection proved he had been there for about a week. There was no other identification on him, and he didn’t attempt to come back to life, nor was he wearing a powdered wig. We moved onto the storage truck and found another note:
The emanations from the Black Chalice have surely woken the creature. It taunts me now, night and day, never letting me get any rest. I have not slept for a week… I’ve taken as many precautions as I could think of to prevent the beast from escaping or failing that, to ensure it can never leave this place. Woe unto any still here should the creature get free.
I didn’t even bother looking in Xiang’s direction….what’s the point, he’s no fun.
Still no sign of the Ram’s Skull, we made our way into another spacious room. Again, the scent of talcum powder tickled my nose as we discovered another large group of goblins in wigs rehearsing for a play. Obviously not ready for an audience, the battle was joined. Again, these goblins seemed to be possessed by some evil spirit, a demonic force that made them much more powerful than they should have been. We caught a name, “Madame Buttwaz,” who I imagine was their director, or at the very least their choreographer, but she managed to escape us deeper into the mansion.
Moving on we discovered an elderly, ragged looking woman who called herself Jossa. She was a mage who had for some reason been drawn to the evil powers of the mansion. Clearly she had been here for some time as she spoke with much knowledge of the building and its current and former residents. In return for a sizable payment of gold, which we had luckily found here in the mansion, she gave us some very useful information. The mansion contained 4 artifacts. They had been created and placed here in the mansion by Chesterbatch and could be used to weaken the demon that was inhabiting the mansion. The demon’s name was Dretchlor. I noticed Xiang visibly shudder when she spoke his name. She told us we were to look for a candelabra, a glass globe, a jug of water and a book. When Carric pulled the red-bound book out of his knapsack, Jossa smiled with recognition.
I snapped my fingers, “Madame Buttwaz had a candelabra we have to find her again.” Working our way back the way we had come we found the remnants of the goblin troupe still practicing. Amazingly enough, they had understudies to take over the parts of their slain comrades. “Madame, we need your candelabra,” said Starch.
“Not my directing stick?!!” She cried in her high pitched whine, and then grinned slyly. “What will you give me for it hmmmm?”
I kid you not, Starch said, “how about a song? A song by a Sister from a nunnery named Sister Sledge. It’s called We Are Family,” and damned if he didn’t start belting out this song about being a family with a bunch of sisters. It was amazing. I think maybe that harp we found in the other room had some magical properties to in after all. But I digress. Buttwaz was tickled to death with Starch’s song. She called over her musical director and 3 stage hands, they all had ink quills and parchment and were copying down lyrics as fast as Starch was singing them. She thanked us profusely, handed over the candelabra and invited us back for a private showing once her play was produced. I’m really not sure what else you could say about all that, except for that we now, blessedly had 2 of the 4 items we needed to defeat the Dretchlord, whoever he was.
Backtracking again, we found a small chapel in the back corner of the basement of the house. The silver cages from the pit traps upstairs dangled above us. Figuring this was a fortified a place as any, we set up watch and rested through the night. Thankfully, no one disturbed our rest.
In the morning we found another goblin who extracted more money from us, again more money we had found in the mansion, and gave us the globe we were searching for. Xiang was becoming more frantic at this point and started opening random doors. We found several closets as we followed him through the maze of a mansion. Many of them containing stores of candelabras, and water jugs. Pausing long enough for Carric to cast a detect magic spell, we continued through the house allowing him to pick the magical jug out from among the plain ones.
Opening one of the closet type doors we found a room with more beautiful frescos in it. This room was smaller than the others and contained a skeleton in fancy shiny armor. Moving carefully into the room, Starch inspected the corpse. It was grasping a parchment paper. Pulling the paper out from its hands, Starch read out loud:
I cannot fight the creature any longer…
I have sealed Dretchlor the Unrelenting’s true names into four Relics, should he escape.
I’ve safeguarded them in the following locations:
-True Name of Protection is in the Library
-True Name of Health is in the Linen Closet
-True Name of Regeneration is in the Dining Room
-True Name of Resistance is in the Larder.
The true names have power to those that hold them. Without them, the creature may be able to be destroyed.

Again, I looked at Xiang and opened my mouth to speak. He interrupted me. “The items need to be destroyed. The only way to defeat the demon is to destroy the items. We saw that room in our travels. The tub with the acid. Perhaps the items can be destroyed there.”
We had seen a tub the day before on the first level of the house. We had puzzled over the reason for its existence. Perhaps Xiang was right, perhaps we were to bring the items there to destroy them. Moving back through the maze of a mansion, we came into the room through a different door than the one we had used the day before. As Starch opened the door, we heard an ominous “click,” he manage to jump out of the way as the entire tub of acid came flying in his direction. “So that’s what it was for!” Exclaimed Carric. I’m so glad he was there with us at that moment to explain things!
I looked at Xiang again. “Now what?” Wracking my brain for a solution, I suggested. “Remember yesterday, we were in that hallway where we were all hearing voices? Voices that promised us wealth, power and answers to prayers? Maybe we need to be there? I cannot think of another spot in this house that would be helpful at this point. Unless maybe you want to go back and have a drink with Galantis?”
The party agreed about the strange room, not the drink with the drunken knight, and we trekked back through the mansion to the room I had mentioned. Ignoring the voices in our heads we made our way down the side passage, past fonts of holy water and into the room. Circular in nature, with a round pool of gray looking ooze in the middle, the walls of this room were curiously bereft of the artwork and frescos we’d found in all the others. As Xiang made his way down towards the center, a long slimy tentacle swung up and attacked. Once we had fought off the ooze, Xiang again looked into the pool of water. In the bottom lay the Golden Ram’s Skull. Before he could reach down to grab it, a hideous demon emerged from the pool. He spoke to Xiang like he knew him. Speaking of time they had spent together in the monastery and how good it was for the demon to be free of his shackles. He thanked us for freeing him and for bringing the Relics to him. Xiang hollered for us to run as Starch hollered to bring the items to the holy water fonts we had passed. Closest to the door, Carric bee-lined to the fonts with Starch and myself close behind him. Glancing over my shoulder I saw Xiang being scooped up by the beast. Horrified I watched him bite both Xiang’s hands off at the wrist and then drop him back to the floor.
I moved into the next room to see Carric attempting to burn a sopping wet book, while Starch, a broken glass globe under his boot was taking his sword to the candelabra. I lifted the water jug over my head to drop it down on the stone tiles as Xiang came stumbling into the room, bloody stumps where his hands had been. The regeneration idol in my pocket grew warm at my side as his hands began to magically heal. “We need to run, now,” he said, matter of factly as always. “The front foyer, with the holding glyph, hurry.” I dropped the vase, watched it crack and ran, as my life really did depend on it, to the front door with Xiang.
We turned to make our stand. I helped Xiang tie 2 punching daggers we had found in the mansion onto his stumps. While they were gradually healing, his hands would not be hands for a while longer, we were not sure how far behind us the demon was. Carric reactivated the holding glyph we had discovered earlier, Starch readied his sword and we waited. Moments later the Dretchlord appeared in the foyer. The battle was epic—we won of course. When it was all said and done, the demon beast shrank down into the Golden Ram’s Skull. Xiang walked over and unceremoniously stomped the idol to dust. Thus ends the Saga of Dretchlor the Unrelenting.

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