An old friend says farewell; a new friend is disintrigrated
After resting, the party prepares to storm the old Delacroix manor where Ravenous is hiding out. Gabriel Andre Beaumont is missing. After some debate, the party decides to go on without him. They need to strike before Ravenous discovers they’ve been compromised, and Gabriel knows the plan and can join back up whenever he wants.
Maximilien Delacroix uses his primal magic to mask the party’s footsteps, and they approach the manor unseen. Ularalu turns invisible and scouts ahead. She finds various gang members throughout the house, but most importantly, she finds five hostages guarded by two bandits in the front entrance.
Lucas leads the party to a side entrance to the manor. They walk through several hallways and staircases, and attack the bandits from the rear. They are totally surprised, and the fight seems to be going well for our heroes, with one exception. As Ives runs in to attack, he drops to his knees and begins weeping uncontrollably. The others ignore him and focus on the enemies in front of them.
Ives reaches into his pocket and pulls out the instant fortress. With a trembling hand, almost against his will, he begins to set it down. The ranger grabs Ives’ hand, and tries to prevent him from placing it on the ground. The rogue overpowers the ranger, however, and once more, the dark fortress springs from the cube, crashing through the ceiling, looming over friend and foe alike.
Emerging from the fortress is a creature from Ives’ nightmares; a man in ragged clothes with a mouth that is too wide for his head and too many teeth to be human. “Ithaqua shall destroy all!” he says, before unleashing a devastating fireball upon the party. Ularalu is instantly knocked out by the blast, several hostages and bandits are incinerated, and everyone else is grievously injured.
To make matters worse, another creature emerges from the fortress. A mountainous form, this hideous creature is humanoid in general shape, but its hateful face is a writhing mass of tentacles. It shrouds itself in mist and teleports into the middle of the party. It unleashes a deadly beam of energy at Claude Couturier. Before he can even cry out, the paladin is gone. Nothing but a pile of dust remains of the brave man.
The monster charges towards Maximilian, and rakes him with its claws. The ranger barely manages to remain standing. “Banish it; that’s our only chance!” cries Lucas. The cleric appears ready to follow his own advice, but before he can, Meldy steps forward. Chanting in some strange tongue, she holds a small purple crystal towards the monster. A swirling portal opens beneath the creature, and with a hideous shriek, it is gone. Meldy continues chanting. “Don’t let anything break her concentration!” commands Lucas.
The remaining monster tries to charge Meldy, but the others surround it and slice it into pieces. Ives, who has regained his senses by now, says, “We must destroy it now.” The fortress falls under the party’s combined assault. Several gold masks fall from its ruins. No one dares to pick them up.
Our heroes stand around in stunned silence. Ives manages a few halting explanations of what happened. He reaches down and returns the fortress to its miniature form. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. It’s Evariste Fulbert, Ives’ old “friend” from Abellard! Evariste is the head of the Abellard thieves’ guild, and has come to Bonifant to leverage an opportunity. There’s a great need for clean water in Bonifant, and Evariste has a Decanter of Endless Water. This is a great chance to give back to the citizens of Bonifant, and a great chance for Evariste to make a small profit. Synergy! The only problem is that he’s not too familiar with Bonifant. This is where Ives has a chance to get in on the ground floor! Help Evariste supply the poor people of Bonifant with water, and he’ll share the profits 50/50! Synergy!
For some reason, Ives is reluctant to agree to this deal. Maximilian nocks an arrow on his bow and tells the entrepreneur that it’s time to leave. Evariste sighs and says, “In these troubled times, every prudent businessman knows the value of insurance. I happen to have some back in the carriage. I’d really like not to have to use it, but I am prepared to leverage every competitive advantage at my disposal.”
Ives looks outside. Sitting in the carriage, surrounded by six of Evariste’s men, is his sickly, younger brother, Ace. Ives grows pale, and turns to Evariste. “Can we have a few moments to discuss this in private?” “Of course. Take all the time you need,” says Evariste. The party withdraws to the other side of the room and begins to discuss what to do. “Don’t be fooled by his gaudy clothes and catchwords,” says Ives. “He’s a very dangerous man.” Several plans are floated to rescue Ace. The party agrees on one, and approaches Evariste.
“I am prepared to assist you. We’ll even offer you some of these gold masks.” says Ives. “May I just speak with my brother though?” “Of course,” says Evariste. He picks up a mask. “What exquisite craftsmanship! Very avante guarde!” Ives and Meldy approach the carriage. “And who is this little lady?” asks Evariste. “This is Meldy,” explains Ives. “She’s quite the young entrepreneur herself.” “Always wonderful to meet a child with an interest in business,” says Evariste, patting Meldy’s head patronizingly. Meldy looks unhappy, but responds politely.
At the carriage, Ives begins discussing the various important landmarks in Bonifant, enthralling Evariste with tales of all the money they will make. Meanwhile, Meldy whispers a few words to Ace, and suddenly the two teenagers vanish!
“What? Where did they go?” asks a bewildered Evariste. “I think it’s time for you to leave,” says Maximilian firmly, with an arrow at the ready. “I’m… I’m… taking these masks with me!” says Evariste. He gets into his carriage and drives off. Maximilian delivers a few parting shots at the man’s ostentatious outfit.
Ives goes to check on Ace. He finds Ace and Meldy sitting awkwardly next to each other in an abandoned farmhouse. After confirming they are safe, and promising Ace he will return soon, he heads back to the party.
Meanwhile, everyone else explores the house. They are met by an angry guardsman, who is disappointed to not find fellow survivors fighting Ravenous. He repeatedly accuses the adventurers of being looters and criminals, and rails against Pontmercy’s practice of including reformed criminals in the city guard. Even Lucas’ claim to be part of the family that owns the house won’t shut him up. A web to the face does shut him up. Jace finishes the job by webbing the man’s feet to the floor. The PCs explore the rest of the house, and determine that Ravenous has cleared out during the fight.
Ives returns and announces that he must look after his brother now. After all, he has enough money to pay for Ace’s medicine for a long time. First, however, he must deal with this fortress of pure evil and madness. It must be destroyed. He summons it again, draws his rapier, and plunges it into the fleshy walls. The fortress shudders. The others join in, and the fortress falls under a hail of blades, missiles, and magic. With this final task accomplished, Ives heads back to meet Ace. The others head to the 2nd location supplied by the prisoner from the warehouse.
Ace and Meldy have discovered that they both like music. Meldy gives Ace a sending stone so they can keep in touch. And with that, Ives Sévère, devoted brother, champion of Bonifant, shooter of horses, walks towards the sunrise, and bids us adieu.