The party debates for a while about what to do next. Aramil insists that Luwin must be ‘taken care of’, as he is a blight on all civilized society. Erik talks with his father about the situation, and Varna has apparently still not given up on his son, even though Luwin attempted to murder him. He insists that Erik leave Luwin be, and that his adoptive brother will somehow come back around one day. Erik is tempted to do as his father wishes, but the rest of the party sides with Aramil, and after further discussion Erik agrees to head back to Osteros to finish off Luwin once and for all.
Perin decides that punishing villainous nobles and constantly risking life and limb is not what he was interested in when he signed up to travel with the party. He is happy to have journeyed with the party back to the forests of Quinalyn, and he decides now would be a good time to take his leave and return to the simple life of a hunter. He bids the party farewell, and The Zaza, Erik, Invicto, and Aramil press on with their task at hand.
A ‘Hag’gard Village
The party leaves their posse of Verind’s Edge survivors behind and returns to Osteros. They find the houses and shops of the village deserted, and see some gruesomely strung up corpses. They eventually discover that everyone remaining in the village is holed up in the castle. The party approaches the gates and starts up a conversation with some guards on the wall. They are able to determine that a hag, Galwyth, has been terrorizing the town, killing villagers. Apparently Galwyth gave the treant as a gift to Luwin to help remove the tainted elements that now populate the forest kingdom of Quinalyn, such as the growing population of human merchants and tradesmen, and is now enraged that Luwin let the creature be killed. She is exacting her vengeance on the village and has promised to kill everyone there before she is done.
Later that night, the party tracks Luwin’s advisor, Calwyn, to a meeting with the hag and tries briefly to talk to her, but when Calwyn tells the hag that the party is actually responsible for killing her treant, a fight ensues. The party kills Galwyth (along with her protective pack of shadow wolves), and captures Calwyn. Picking through the hag’s belongings, Erik finds she was wearing a magical set of Bracers of Mental Might, which the wizard claims for himself.
They proceed to interrogate Calwyn, which involves The Zaza punching him a few times and Invicto calmly stating, “I wanna shove this rod where the sun don’t shine and let off an eldritch blast he’ll never forget.” After this bold threat Calwyn reveals that there is a secret underground tunnel that leads into the castle. The party has Calwyn lead them to the tunnel entrance where they see a light approaching – apparently someone is leaving the castle through the tunnel. The party quickly sets up an ambush around the tunnel entrance and The Zaza swings a blow at the first person to poke their head out of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, this person is an innocent child. The Zaza pulls her swing at the last second and manages to just knock the child unconscious. They discover that the group leaving the tunnel is a pack of orphaned children escaping the castle. They are led by the young eladrin woman who gave the party a pitying look in the marketplace when they first arrived in Osteros, knowing they would only be food for the treant. She offers the party little pity now, since they just beat one of the children into unconsciousness.
She says that she is being chased by an angry villager, the hulking elf Brakkus, and the party can hear him calling down the tunnel that he will slaughter her and the children when he catches them. The party sends her on her away, apologizes for hitting the child, and prepares for a fight with Brakkus. Alone, he is no match for the party, and he is quickly taken down, offering one last twisted smirk with his pointed teeth before his face is permanently bashed in.
In the commotion, Calwyn escaped, but the party decides they have no more need of him. They make their way through the tunnel and Erik is glad to have just picked up the magical Bracers of Mental Might, as they help the party shove aside a heavy metal grate at the end of the tunnel. They pile into a small laundry closet and make their way through the castle, up to the throne room. They insist to the guards in front of the throne room doors that they are mercenaries hired to dispatch the hag, and they are here for their audience with Luwin. The guards begrudgingly accept their story, and the party enters the main hall of the castle. Luwin awaits and all pretenses are dropped as battle immediately breaks out.
Luwin proves a capable combatant, unleashing a variety of impressive combat maneuvers such as ‘Run and Hide’ and ‘Cower’. He may offer little offense, but Luwin apparently knows how to stay alive in a fight, and his guards, including an eladrin sorceress, bring plenty of offense to the fight. It is a brutal battle, with a couple of elven archers entering the hall to rain death down upon the party from afar. The party barely survives, though Luwin runs out of the throne room before the battle is done.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Chasing after the ignoble elf lord, the party bursts into his chambers to find him standing in a circle of arcane runes inscribed on the floor. Luwin begins reciting some arcane phrases as the circle lights up with magical energy. The Zaza rushes into the circle to swing her axe at Luwin while Erik and Invicto target him with arcane blasts. Luwin manages to shrug off the attacks and continues the magic ritual. Erik quickly realizes that the circle is a teleportation circle, and in a few more seconds Luwin, and now The Zaza as well, will disappear. Erik shouts out to the rest of the party, and with only a split second to decide, everyone piles into the circle and are all teleported away with Luwin.
They appear in a dark cavern surrounded by a large group of shady, armed men. Luwin shouts for the men to protect him as the party attempts to finish Luwin off. The observers step in and separate the party from Luwin, escorting him safely out of the room. A leader steps forward from the armed gang and addresses the party. They discover that this group is the Hirantar thieves’ guild, and that Luwin paid the guild to arrange an escape plan with them. The group owes no allegiance to Luwin, but he’s paid good coin so they can’t let the party kill him.
The party asks to speak with the guild leader, Girresh, further in private. They discover they are still in the nation of Quinalyn. Moreover, after offering a very hefty bribe of 600 gold, they convince the leader to tell them the details of Luwin’s arrangement. Apparently, members of the thieves’ guild are to escort him to Arastur, about a week’s travel away. The party pays an additional sum to have the guild send a message to their friends and recruits, telling them to head on to Arastur and that the party will meet them there. The party then immediately sets out for the city of Arastur, fortunately their original destination anyways.
Two Brothers Enter, One Brother Leave
After a hurried week of travel, they arrive in the city and begin asking around for someone recently arriving in the city matching Luwin’s description. After some expert legwork by Invicto, along with a few more bribes, they track Luwin to an inn in town, where he is apparently staying with some hired bodyguards. Erik uses a magical potion to change his appearance and waits in the common room to keep an eye on Luwin. The rest of the party comes up with a convoluted scheme involving hiring some ‘ladies of the evening’ to distract Luwin’s hired thugs. Unfortunately, just after the rest of the party leaves, Luwin comes into the common room, escorted by his bodyguards, and heads out of the inn. Not wanting to lose him, Erik leaves the inn to follow. A short time later, The Zaza, Invicto, and Aramil return to the inn with a quartet of prostitutes, and are left to wonder where everyone went.
Luwin proceeds down to the docks where he appears to purchase passage on a ship about to leave the harbor. Before heading on to the deck, Luwin settles up with his hired bodyguards and they turn to leave, walking back towards the city. Erik decides he cannot let Luwin escape, so he quickly purchases passage on the ship as well and heads down to the cabins as the ship shoves off from the pier. Checking room to room he finally finds Luwin, alone in a cramped cabin, with no guards or hired thugs to defend him.
Erik enters the room, shuts the door, and lets his magically changed appearance fade. Luwin offers a look of terror as he recognizes his adoptive brother, then Erik unleashes blast after blast of arcane fire upon the vile elf. With nowhere to run or hide, Luwin is finally trapped and unable to escape and a few seconds later he is nothing more than a charred, smoking corpse. Erik takes a deep breath and stoically walks out of the cabin.
Some sailors come down to investigate the commotion, but before they realize what has happened Erik is back on deck. The boat has already left the docks, but hasn’t made it far, so Erik jumps over the side and swims back to the city of Arastur. He meets up with his friends at the inn and tells them what happened. It’s a bittersweet moment for Erik, but he’s confident he did the right thing, as Luwin was an evil man who would only have brought more suffering into the world if he lived. The party has a celebratory drink, and looks forward to investigating their new merchant holdings in the city tomorrow.