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Taking The Tower

Page history last edited by Michael 1 year, 4 months ago

back to the Index, or to Chapter 68:  The Enchanted Workshop


Chapter 69

The Caper at Alton Keep: Taking the Tower 



9:30 Dragon, 17th day of Justinian - Summer


     It was afternoon, at Linna Manor; our party consisted of:


  • Sextus - Tevinter elf, Senior Enchanter, master of blood, spirit, and entropy magics, Commander of the Wardens in Ferelden, he knows more than you do, just ask him

  • Eornan - elvish scout and Dalish advocate

  • Bran - human warrior, one of the Helwyr; (possessed corpse)

  • Landon - human mage and Warden; descended from the Old Korcarians

  • Alpheus - human mage and Warden, with ties to Orlais

  • Bartreg - dwarven warrior and Warden, formerly a prisoner of the Architect; (possessed corpse)

  • Sir Roderick - human Templar and Warden; possessed corpse, and has a clockwork left arm

  • Zevran - elven assassin from Antiva, now working with the Wardens (though not a Warden himself)


     Bran, Bartreg and Roderick were feeling very little -- the effect of being evicted from their bodies by the diabolical apparatuses of Aurelinus, the necromancer.

     Some of our scouts (Bran, Zevran and Eornan) had scouted Alton Keep and Mamble ...


at the end of the previous episode.


     ... and we now had a good idea of the size and height of the castle's walls, the locations of (overt) entrances, etc. More scouting was needed to determine guard schedules, occupied rooms, etc.

     Meanwhile, Landon had gathered 40 "portions" of Elfroot in the woods behind Linna Manor.


We could make as many lesser lyrium and lesser healing potions as we liked

(the laboratory was still pretty well stocked with simple small bottles).


      As the sun approached the horizon, the mages prepared the ritual for returning our three dead friends to a more normal, fully-alive condition. Sextus chose Bartreg as the first ... patient, due to his dwarven constitution. The dwarf was laid on the necromancer's elevation platform, which was then surrounded by Warding Salts. An iron plate was laid on the dwarf's chest, to carry the effect of a Shock spell towards his heart.

      Some problems were had due to Alpheus' Rejuvenation spell not working a couple of times, but after a couple of attempts Bartreg's soul returned to his body -- briefly. Alas, the body had cooled too much for the dwarf to return to life. Over a few hours we heated water (it was after sunset, so the smoke wouldn't be seen), and put the dwarf in a wooden tub filled with hot water.

      Another attempt brought Bartreg back to life -- pained, exhausted life, with the left side of his face, and his left arm, numb. Even with healing, warm food and fresh water, he wasn't going to be adventuring after suffering a major stroke.

      For our next patient we chose Roderick, and used a large bathtub in the master bedroom (instead of the rather grotesque laboratory). The fireplace in the room made heating water easier. And indeed, on the first attempt Roderick began breathing, his heart was beating, and he was back among the living.

     Our supply of warding salts was exhausted, so Bran would have to remain dead for the time being.

     After dinner, Sextus asked Shivanna, Landon and Eornan to join him for a discussion of the magical situation. The Warden Commander was proposing we all learn spells from Fade Spirits -- most particularly and urgently, the specialized Blood magic Warding to conceal the Maker's Tear of Andoral. Landon agreed to learn that spell (which would also set him on the path towards being a blood mage).

     Zevran and Eornan took turns during the night scouting around Alton Keep. Bartreg and Roderick were recovering; Bran was providing security for the manor.

      In the late night, our mages conducted the rituals to contact various Fade entities. Except for Landon, the spirits were no particular challenge for the mages to gain spells from.  Landon, however, had to negotiate with an Envy demon named Dave ...


placeholder name only!


      ... who of course wanted all manner of concessions from the Korcarian mage. After some negotiation, Dave offered the unique warding spell, along with Blood Wound and Spell Shield. In return, the Envy demon would "tag" onto Landon for a month, and seek to find a host (or watch for a chance to possess Landon, if he fumbled at his spell-casting).


I think it was a month?


     In addition, Landon was now a novice Blood mage; and all three spells were learned at the "mastered" level.




"Landon's Secret Shame"

Magic School:  Blood

Spell Type:  Utility          Mana Cost:  30

Casting Time:  1 hour          Target Number:  18

Test:   None          Requirement:  Blood Mage specialization

For one hour you draw upon 1 hp of your life force every two minutes (for a total of 30) while tracing glowing sanguine sigils in the air around an object of your choice. The object must be able to be closed and used to enclose -- a chest, book, locket, or even a bag (but not something like a door). Once the lock is complete, the object is held closed and only you or someone you designated while casting the spell may open it. For anyone else, the only way to open the lock is by breaking whatever it is cast upon (does the spell protect or reinforce the closed object?).  The lock lasts until the object is opened, after which it must be re-cast to seal the object again (assuming it was not destroyed in the process). As long as the lock lasts the container conceals itself and its contents from any form of scrying against a TN of spellpower +8. The lock's strength is spellpower +5.


     As soon as all the mages had gained their new spells, Landon cast the Blood Lock spell on the Australi Botanico book -- the final spellpower of the lock was 25.

     A fatiguing end to a long day.


9:30 Dragon, 18th day of Justinian - Summer


     At dawn, it was clear that Bartreg was not going to recover soon -- none of us said aloud the fear that he would never fully recover. Roderick was in pretty good shape (except, of course his arm, which was no longer magically operated).

      Our scouts continued to observe the castle; by the end of the day Eornan had chosen the route for our intrusion.

     Landon ground up elfroot and made a quantity of Lesser Lyrium and Lesser Healing potions; he probably did some of this in the master bedroom, keeping an eye on Bartreg. Alpheus and Sextus looked through the various libraries and magical items; Roderick practiced using things one-handed.

     We looked though the bedrooms and attic for clothing items, and made up disguises -- most of us would dress as servants. Bran and Roderick would make no attempt to pretend to be castle staff. We also traded some magic items; Landon took back the ring he'd given Bran, for example. We carefully checked our climbing ropes.

      Alpheus send dream messages to various people -- Fergus Cousland, captain of the Mistral; the elven Shepherd Grey; the un-named captain of the Grand Wolf; and ...


... whoever else Sextus thought needed to have coordinating messages for our various goals.


     The uprising was on schedule. The captain of the Grand Wolf were told that we'd be escaping from Alton Keep on the morning of the 20th; and that if they didn't find us, or hear from us, that four days later (the morning of the 24th) they should land a careful team covertly on the coast and recover Bartreg from Linna Manor.

     Zevran and Eornan watched the guards and windows of the castle at various times during the night, again noting where guards were (and were not). The isolated tower was visited a couple of times while they watched -- the guards did something with their hand on a large egg-shaped stone to make the magical "drawbridge" appear and disappear.


9:30 Dragon, 19th day of Justinian - Summer


     We hid the various important items not carried with us at Linna Manor -- the Australi Botanico went onto the office bookshelves, for example. For Bartreg, we set up four days worth of supplies next to his bed (along with the magical Servants' Rations box); hung blankets over the master bedroom windows; and otherwise prepared him for a stay. We advised him against having a fire burning during the daylight hours -- someone might see the smoke.

     In the afternoon, we walked quietly through fields and woods to Fisher Cove, a small village several hundred yards west of the castle. The clouds loomed low in the sky; the waves crashed against the shore.

     Eornan left us in hiding, and crept off to check on the village and the seaward side of the castle. Except for the waves crashing against the rocks, everything seemed ready -- he returned to the village, and we stole a rowing-boat.

     Rowing the boat to the base of the cliffs below the Keep took some thrashing at first, but after many long minutes and failed attempts (with Sir Roderick at the tiller) we made it out of the  harbor and were pitching and tossing near some flat rocks by the sea tower of the keep. Landon managed to goof up the jump to the shore, but was rescued by Bran (with an oar) and Eornan (from the shore). We punched out a plank from the bottom of the boat and set it loose -- it soon disappeared in the darkness and spray.


9:30 Dragon, 20th day of Justinian - Summer


"Good thing we're doing this in the summer!"


     At the base of the cliff, Eornan began to climb, carrying coils of light rope. After much difficulty he reached the bottom of the outside wall, which was stonework covered in whitewashed plaster. He lowered his light ropes down to the rest of Our Heroes, and pulled up sturdier ropes, and fastened them securely to a protruding rock.

     Thus, the rest of us began to climb.  Bran carried Sextus, Shivanna, Roderick and Alpheus piggy-back up to Eornan. Landon, and finally Zevran, climbed up the rope; we pulled it up, so that it wouldn't been seen swinging against the face of the cliff. It was about 2 a.m. when Sextus cast the spell Heroic Offense on Eornan; the elvish scout began to climb the wall of the keep, while the rest of us huddled in the protection of a Shelter spell (also cast by Sextus).

     Up, up, up the face of the keep went Eornan; up to the eaves, avoiding windows, and then up past two levels of dormers on the roof. At about 2:30 he carefully forced open a window and slipped inside.

     Within the window was a small room, with a door opposite the window. The room was dark, and filled with (surprisingly not dusty) stored furniture and other household goods not being used by the keep's inhabitants. He peeked and listened a bit, fastened a rope to a pillar or heavy item of furniture, and returned down to where the rest of the party was waiting.

     Sextus turned off the Shelter; Bran climbed up to the eaves, where he tirelessly hauled others up one by one in the bosun's chair. If his body felt tired, Bran was not aware of it.  Eornan waited at the  edge to help others around that particular change of direction, having put a piece of leather over the edge of the eaves to protect our ropes. We were all in the storage room together after a bit.


Inside Alton Keep


     We traded some of our items and rested for a few minutes. The tireless Eornan scouted the hallway, which ran the length of the building it was in; only two of the many rooms had people (audibly) sleeping in them, and all the rooms were dark. A couple of small torches were the only sources of light at this high level of the building; stairs led downward from each end of the corridor.

     Meanwhile, Bran climbed back outside, and climbed up to the actual ridge of the roof, where he could see the courtyards and other areas ...


... and pose majestically bold and heroic, standing on a rain-slick precipice of darkness (to quote Penny Arcade).


     Zevran peeked in another room on the attic level, and found a supply of servants' clothing; most of us used that to improve our disguises. Bran returned from the roof and used some of the cloth to muffle his armor; Sir Roderick wore a cape to gain a couple of seconds uncertainty by the keep's staff.

     Well-prepared, we headed down the stair, to another level within the roof of the building; this level was partly taken up by a high, rounded ceiling of some major room down below (possibly the great hall?). We crept along quietly, led by our rogues, through another long corridor; at the far end of that corridor was a stair leading down.

      Further down the stairs we went, all too conscious of time passing. We soon came to a sturdy door in the outer wall of the large building; it opened out onto a small porch or landing, with the strange pinnacle tower only a hundred feet away! The ominous gap in the bridge was just before us; we edged out onto the porch and drew the door shut behind us.

     An egg-shaped stone stood by the gap, with a hand-shaped divot in its surface; a similar stone stood by the far end of the bridge. After a bit of distance-judging, Sextus cast Spell Wisp, followed by a Sleep spell as far towards the pinnacle tower as possible. "Now!" he commanded.

     Alpheus placed his hand on the stone, and a glowing magical surface appeared, filling the gap between the porch and the 8' wide stone bridge beyond. Eornan and Zevran dashed forward, undeterred by the wind, the wet stone and the bridge's lack of railings; the rest of us followed more cautiously.

      Against the tower's door, the scouts briefly listened (and mostly heard whistling wind and rainfall). When the rest of us joined the scouts, Sextus placed his hand on the egg-stone near the tower door -- the magic gap-filling surface vanished! Eornan tried the large door, and found it to be unlocked; he gently swung it open, and we quickly slipped inside.


Inside the Pinnacle Tower


     We found ourselves in a sort of lobby or guard room; a guard was sleeping at a table, either due to Sextus' spell or from the glass of liquor beside him. An encircling stair led up and down from this chamber, and three doors opened into rooms at this same level. A small window in the wall facing the keep held an alarm bell; we cut down the rope from the bell.

     Eornan crept up the stair, to what was apparently the "main" level of the tower (it was intricately decorated on the outside, with tall windows). He found only a substantial door at the top of the stair, with a lock and a grated peep-hole in it. Through the peep-hole he could dimly see some colorful fabrics; he heard shallow, anxious breathing (as a person poorly hiding might make).  He came back down to the lobby, where we looked (unsuccessfully) for any keys.

     The three small side rooms each had a narrow window, a cot, a footlocker, a candle, etc. -- and a sleeping guard. Zevran expertly applied his Antivan sleeping-powder over the mouth of each, and to the guard at the front desk. Landon cast a Glyph of Sealing on the "front" door, and we backed that up with the bar.

     The next level downstairs was a scruffy, musty "office", with shelves as partitions, and a desk with papers -- when glanced at, the papers were lists of pigs, linens, Antivan spirits. They were probably lists of either Howe's property, or taxes due, or some such; we didn't feel we had the time to mess with them.

     Further down the tower was a room taking up half of the tower; it was clean but mostly empty, and was probably "overflow" for more prisoners (or guards). Two doors stood on the wall which divided this level in two.


  • door #1:  a dim room, with a burnt-down candle, a curtained window, a bed, stool, storage chest, chamber pot, and other "sleeping quarters" features. On the bed was a female figure, asleep under the blankets; Zevran administered more of his powders to assure her continued slumber. Her possessions included Templar armor, a bastard sword, a medium shield, a necklace, and a ring; her name was Ser Jeanne, and she had been in service at Kinloch Hold within the last four years.

  • door #2:  a very similar room, but the sleeping inhabitant was a Circle mage. Her robe, staff and two rings were of some interest; Zevran applied his powders here as well. She was Senior Enchanter Gwen, from Kinloch Hold.


      The items which these two had might be of interest. Known magical ones include:


  • Gwen's staff:  when using the staff to cast spells, if you generate enough stunt points, the user can spend 3 stunt points to make the spell cost NO mana.

  • Gwen's first ring:  provides a +2 to casting spells from the Primal school. We took this.

  • Gwen's second ring:  allows the user to cast Rock Armor as a Major Action (instead of the regular amount of time). It doesn't provide the spell -- the caster must know or learn it; but the casting time is reduced. "Oooh, nice," says Landon. We took this.


     We piled up the gear of the two sleepers, and crept down to the lowest level of the pinnacle tower. This was a kitchen, refectory, and supply cellar -- there were tables, chairs, casks, sacks of vegetables, shelves with bread, etc. Looking at the walls, the tower seemed to be a product of architectural magic -- Sextus couldn't alter the masonry, however.

     At about 4 a.m. Our Heroes returned upstairs; Sextus, Eornan and Bran continued up to speak with the prisoner, through the cell door. The prisoner turned out to be Arl Rendon Howe's wife, Elaine Bryland! She was unwilling to be rescued, saying, "My escape will be seen as proof that the Orlesians are working against Ferelden -- we'll have open warfare against my brother and everyone who follows him!"


Her brother is Leonas Bryland, the Arl of South Reach.


     Bran replied, "This night every lord allied with Loghain and Howe is being attacked -- the civil war has started. We can return you to safety in South Reach, or if you prefer, overseas." Zevran picked the lock on the cell door; the cell itself was small but well-appointed, with a nice bed, a small stove, and tall windows. We asked Elaine, "Do you know where the dungeons are?"; her answer was "Downstairs, I suppose? I've never been to this place before."

     Elaine was still opposed to leaving Alton Keep; Sextus told her, "The Regent and Howe have been slaughtering people for no reason." We told her to dress warmly for travel outside.

     Down at the lobby level, Elaine finally got a look at Bran in good light -- she was amazed! His resemblance to the late king, along with his less-than-alive complexion, sent a chill down her spine and she swooned momentarily. Sextus continued to urge Elaine to leave, saying, "The Regent will have you killed soon, even if Howe does not care to."

     Using supplies from the bottom level, we splashed slogans on the walls of the lobby:


"I have been taken

by a Son of Maric --

Arlessa Elaine Howe"


     The magical or useful items of the tower staff (Gwen's staff, etc.) were slightly hidden downstairs. We bundled up our gear, assigned Zevran to keep an eye on Elaine, and opened the tower door. There was nobody watching; we slipped out, closed the door, and Landon once again used a Glyph of Sealing on the door. Sextus touched the egg-shaped stone, and the glowing magical surface appeared to let us back into the keep.

     Within the keep, we moved towards the great tower, and downwards. On one stair, we heard a dog coming down behind us --  it was a mabari hound, large but not full-grown, with a jeweled collar. The hound appeared, but was willing to eat a cheese-y snack -- a snack containing an Antivan drug which caused it to fall asleep on the stair.

     Entering the large tower at some point still above courtyard level, we found several more doors, including a big, heavy one. Behind that door we heard the faint sounds of "early morning preparation" by the castle staff -- beyond that door might be more servants' quarters, or a kitchen. We considered that the dungeons (in the sense of torture chambers and grim cells)  were at the bottom of this tower, and Howe's quarters were probably at the top of the tower.

     The time was almost 4:30 in the morning.


Landon condition:  Health is full; -4 Mana; 6 chips.


On to Grim Discoveries

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