The group stands in front of the castle of Harthelm. Before them, Farquad speaks to the night guard and the Earth Titan the party rode in on, stands idly by. When Farquad is through speaking to the night guard, the party steps in As they have just arrived with a royal entourage, they are treated as royalty and are given residences in the castle until the morning. The party is taken to their separate rooms, where a guard is posted outside each door. Elara elects to take “puppy” with her and he curls up in the corner of the room, after scratching at the door furiously for several hours.
Day 17 In the morning, Adeya is the first to wake. As she is preparing to meet the day, a knock sounds at her door. The guard posted outside announces that she has a visitor. To her surprise and dismay, it is Sir Decker. He looks like crap. Week old crap. She tries to stall and keep him at bay, while he calls her his “love” and pretends like nothing is wrong. She is still terrified of him, but is more concerned with the success of the group in their mission to warn the Prince, than of her own safety. As it turns out, Castle Harthelm is where Sir Decker and the rest of the YellowJackets made their home. As Adeya attempts to stay Decker, in the hopes that one of her fellow party members will come rescue her from this awkward situation, she hears a scream from down the hall. Grateful for this distraction, she attempts to leave the room, but Decker bars her way. A few moments pass, while Adeya thinks about whether or not attacking Decker is worth the trouble it could cause. Suddenly, the door is thrown open by a wild-eyed Elara. Adeya uses the distraction to do a flying leap over Decker and through the door, into the hallway.
It seems that Elara, still unconvinced that “puppy” and Endis were the same person, panicked, when she found Endis asleep in the corner of her room that morning. She jumped to the conclusion that Endis had attacked, and possibly eaten “puppy”, while she slept. As he tried to flee the room, and Elara’s accusations, the guard had stood in his way. Rather than listen to the shrill voice of an upset and slightly disturbed Elara, he ran into the hallway, past the guard. This caused the guard to call out, setting the whole wing into chaos. As Endis ran away, he turned back into “puppy”, of his own volition, and disappeared into the depths of the castle. Elara, shocked into silence, but still very upset, had run down the hallway to get Adeya. As she threw open the door, she was shocked, yet again, to see Decker. This is when Adeya makes her dramatic entrance into the hallway. Following her entry are the other members of the party. Thoradin stumbles out of his room, dressed in naught by a shield, a pick and a grungy pair of PJ’s. Mbutu is not seen, but Plank is, peeking out of his room. Jarem joins the rest of the party as Decker vouches for the group, deterring the guards from locking them up until the Prince is ready to see them.
Decker leads the party to the dining hall, as he is now the party tour guide. He gets the group settled, and goes to see about getting some food made. When he is gone, the party tells Farquad the reason they have come to see the Prince. He is far more interested in the drama of the story, than the impending doom it may spell of the Kingdom of Haete. After hearing the story, he heads off to meet with the Prince. Decker returns with a plate of food, which no one trusts enough to actually eat. At this point, Endis strides into the room, and Decker greets him as Lokis. No one is quite sure that he said Lokis, or who Lokis is, but it seems to have thrown Endis for a loop. He seems quite unsettled, and believes that Decker is up to no good. He demands to see the Prince right away, and the rest of the party, eager to get away from Decker’s hospitality, agree. He points out where the throne room is, and the party heads that way, with Endis and Thoradin convincing Decker it’s best if he return to his quarters.
First the enter the throne room are Adeya and Elara. It seems that the Prince is a bit of a ladies man, and happily allows the two women to enter and approach the throne. He seems not to care about what Farquad is saying and dismisses the man. Adeya and Elara begin to tell the Prince their story of the swamp and Elazrael. Farquad leaves in a huff and the group comes up with a plan. It is pointed out that Jarem is a Changeling. As much as this disgusts the Prince, he agrees that the best course of action is to have Jarem stand in for the Prince and have relations with the Duchess of Loveland. As it turns out, there are very few knights in the care of the Prince of Haete and he does not have the manpower to protect his kingdom from something like Elazrael. In order for him to receive the necessary support, he would need to strike an alliance with Loveland and the Duchess has made it clear that the only way to do that is to give his seed. Yeah, his seed. She doesn’t even want his hand in marriage, she wants his babies. Their kids would be in the prime position to take the leadership position for all the kingdoms, which is currently occupied by some crazy old dude. Everyone agrees that this plan is for the best, except maybe for Jarem. No one is sure whether the Duchess is as ugly as everyone in Haete claims she is.
After the party finishes their audience with the Prince, they find Farquad. He is still angry about his earlier dismissal. The party managed to convince him that they changed the Prince’s mind and he has agreed to “marry” the Duchess. In celebration, the party goes out for drinks. Endis though, would rather check out the forbidden tower in the castle, and elects to stay behind. Not being familiar with Haete, they let Jakob choose the place. It turns out to be a working class bar, a little crude for Farquad’s elegant tastes. Thoradin pulls out his stock of dwarven ale and quickly gets Farquad drunk. It seems that there is much hatred between the kingdoms of Haete and Loveland, and that is made quite clear in this bar. Bawdy tunes likening the Duchess’ loins to the gates of hell are sung hourly, and cartoons of her defaced image are everywhere. Adeya attempts to stand in front of the poster in Farquad’s direct line of sight, but angers several bar flies in the process. Farquad’s entourage enters and a fight ensues. Farquad punches Jakob, in an attempt to escape the bar. Jakob responds with attacking Farquad and his entourage. Thoradin is so drunk that he punches whomever is closest, which happens, on occasion, to be Mbutu. Jarem, realizing he is in a crowded bar, feel the compulsive need to tell a story about Dexŧrösïtüs. He dips and dives his way to the center of the bar, through the flurry of wild punches, and makes his announcement. This attracts the attention of a large bug bear who was sitting at the bar. He punches several patrons on his way to Jarem, whom he attacks with great force. Adeya is also drunk, but manages to know who is friend and who is foe. She manages to crit, and accidentally kills a patron. Mbutu follows up with two more kills. Jakob crits and summons a swarm of bees (hahah, YellowJackets, hahaha). He is so upset about being punched by Farquad, that he sicks the bees on him. When the bug bear is defeated, the fight ends and the city guard arrives. Adeya is standing over the falling bug bear, about to flee, when the guards realize the bug bear is a wanted criminal. All the deaths are blamed on him, and the party is thanked for doing their civil duty and rewarded with 500 gold.
The party returns to the Castle that night and they meet up with the Prince to solidify their deal. He offers them each 2000 gold, and an estate in Haete, on completion of the deal. Jarem is still unconvinced, but Thoradin and Adeya agree to give Jarem their estates. The plan is that the Prince will leave the next day, for a hunting lodge in the woods. In three weeks time, Jarem, in the guise of the Prince, will depart for Loveland, where he will join the Duchess.
The party returns to their rooms, to realize that Endis is missing. Adeya and Elara attempt to search for him, but Adeya passes out before much searching can be done. Everyone else then heads up to the forbidden tower to see if they can find Endis. The top of the tower is dark, with a single candle lighting the door. As the party approaches, they can hear a deranged voice. They then duck into the shadows as Decker arrives and enters the room. There is total blackness beyond, a black darker than normal, a complete nothingness. As they stand there, they hear Decker and the deranged voice talking, they suddenly, a dog barking. Elara cries out “Puppy!”, and the party rushes to break down the door. As Thoradin shield bashes the door, vines burst out, blocking the way and beating anyone within range. As Elara, Thoradin, Jarem and Mbutu try to force their way into the room, Adeya is already inside.
After the sober party member left her to sleep it off, Adeya was awoken by a sudden, urgent need to urinate. Unsure of there the castle privy was located, and accustomed to a rustic setting, she wandered out to the garden. As she was watering, she noticed she was under the forbidden tower. Growing up the tower was a single, thick, ominous looking vine. It may not have been ominous to the other castle inhabitants, but having come from a swamp where plants came to life and attacked, Adeya felt the vine was very threatening. She began to attack the plant, with flying kicks, each which found her higher up the wall of the tower. Eventually, she found herself hanging off the windowsill of the top room in the tower. From there, she bursts through the window and lands almost on top of Decker. He seems quite pleased to see her in his chambers, but soon realizes this is not a pleasure visit. Adeya ignores him and heads straight for the tree-like creature that all the vines are emanating from. She sees that, in one corner, “puppy” is being restrained by vines. She does not notice Lokis standing in the shadows. As she attacks the tree-creature, her fellow party member break down the door and join her in the fray. Jarem was heard to use vicious mockery on the vines as he cried out “You resemble crab grass!!” and the plant died a little inside at the cruelty. Even Lokis joined in the battle, attacking Decker, at the request of “puppy”. After taking a bit a beating, Decker jumps out the tower window, and plummets, to his death, or so the party assumes.
It seems that the tree-like creature is indeed an aspect of Elazrael. Once defeated though, the unconscious body is shown to be that of the Eladrin Decker traveled with. Once the fight is over, Elara realizes that the shadowy figure is indeed an undead creature. Being a cleric, she feels the need to cleanse this place of him. It doesn’t work, but she is adamant that he is evil and she must cleanse him.