We first go to the non-smouldering building to the West, which is oddly barred shut, but from outside. Upon opening it, we find 4 people inside, bound and gagged. I quickly Channel Positive Energy twice, not not just heal them, but ourselves as well.
Apparently the smilers had ambushed them. One of these unfortunate people is Kraklos, a paldin of Sarenrae. We do our secret Sarenite handshake. He informs us that all this had happened last night. The smilers were told to take the keep to impressthe Lords of Rust.
With the prisoners liberated and healed, we continue our exploration of this keep. From the South-most room wafts the unsettling smell of burning meat. Once inside, it’s a grisly scene. It looks to me that captives, smilers, and horses were butchered for meat. It’s unsettling. I see pile of Sarenites gear in a corner of the room: weapons, armor, and packs.
Kraklos tells us about another part of the keep: the chapel which is haunted by Aldronard. Apparently he fought for Sarenrae, far away from his own beloved. On his return journey he’d learned that she died in a raid, and unable to cope he took his own life. He only haunts the chapel at night. Being still daytime, we decide to explore it. Just on the inside is a statue of Sarenrae, covered in dust. I can’t abide by this, so I begin cleaning it as the others look around.
With the info from Kraklos, we develop a plan: Tenlow will make a dress out of things around here we can salvage to try to pass him off as Aldronard’s wife, and I’ll talk to Aldronard. It’s not yet dark though, so Kraklos and I prepare the defiled bodies of the former residents of this keep for a proper burial. We simply dispose of the remains of the smilers.
We also learn a great bit more about these “Lords of Rust” – they have consolidated control over Scrapwall in the name of the god Hellion. Scrapwall, while not always great, has gotten bad over the last few months. The Lords of Rust came seemingly out of nowhere, and established control quickly.
We also learned about members of note of the Lords:
- Helskarg, a violent troll
- Nalakai, a half-orc cleric
- Zagmaander, a four-armed humanoid monster
- Draigs, a chain-wielding ettin
- Kulgara, an orc barbarian
- Meyanda, a purple-haired android priestess
Of course, these higher-ups now only count 5, as we disposed of Meyanda in Torch.
We also learn a smiler quote of Hellion:
His sign is his claw, and his voice is his law.
The smilers are a lesser gang of Scrapwall that swore fealty to the Lords. Apparently if you’re a weaker gang, or don’t have a reputation, you will be preyed upon. The smilers apparently felt servitude was better than death, and ceded what power they had. While there were a bunch of gangs, those that haven’t been wiped out by the Lords were absorbed.
Scrapwall is also host to some sort of mutant manticore, and the Lords’ HQ is apparently in the center of a junkyard (is the whole town a junkyard?), at the Scrapmaster’s Arena. It’s rumored that more of the Lords’ hideout exists underground, and seeing their knack for tunneling in Torch, I’m not surprised.
After tending to the dead, we return to the chapel. Tenlow looks quite convincing as a human woman. Although, we have no idea what Aldronard’s wife, Justinia, looked like.
Tenlow and I walk in (and Ting!/Jacques sneaks in, too), and this setting in the evening is extra creepy. After a moment, my eyes adjust to dark and Aldronard manifests. He appears still as a paladin, in armor. His body though is misty below his torso, and his tears evaporate to smoke. After a bit of awkwardly moving/hovering around, he notices us. He first stares at Tenlow then at me.
He immediately gets angry at me/Sarenrae, blaming her (us) for his wife’s death. I try to talk him down, but he is inconsolable so I back away. Tenlow takes over the speaking duties, and really shines. He manages to make Aldronard believe that he is his late wife. As Justinia, he forgives Aldronard and releases him from fault (which he was not at fault, anyways). Aldronard sees fit to forgive himself, and asks for forgiveness from Sarenrae. Even though it’s night, sunlight beams through the chapel, and he rises out.
This, this! This is the healing light of Sarenrae! Even though we had sustained wounds fighting the smilers, we are all healed, and by Sarenrae’s grace, we all gain a spell-like ability to Cure Serious Wounds, once. I hear Sarenrae in my mind, and she asks me to choose one party member to gain a boon. Since it was through Tenlow’s efforts that we were able to release that poor soul AND get healed, I pass it to him. Instead of Cure Serious, he gets to cast Breath of Life.
SARENRAE BE PRAISED!
Perhaps in the future, if need be, Tenlow can dress as Meyanda.
Also, we now have a fort / base of operations which we can call home.