Judge Embreth Daramid visited the group the day after the successful conclusion of the Trial of the Beast with an offer and a request. The offer was a reward for their successful defense of the the Beast, she invited them to join the Order of the Palantine Eye, a secret society dedicated to defeating the Whispering Way, preferably through non-violent means. Harry was all in favor of it because he wanted to avenge Professor Petros Lorrimer and the rest of the group was generally in favor so it was done.
The request was to assist her in taking the Beast back to his creator, Count Alpon Caromarc and persuading the unstable Count to keep his creation safe in the future. The group agreed to do this with relatively little discussion, probably because they had become somewhat curious about the Count.
Embreth also shared with the group that the Count’s staff, who had visited Lepidstadt’s marketplace very regularly for the last 20 years had failed to come for the last couple of weeks so she wanted assistance if push came to shove. Along the way, she introduced the group to a somewhat nervous young Alchemist named Felix Hofer who had discovered that the guardians of the castle gatehouse were now trolls. This is rarely viewed as a good sign by humans.
The trip to Schloss Caromarc was uneventful but the group discovered upon arrival that Felix was right about the trolls. There followed a rather disjointed battle which featured Lux successfully charging a troll armed with a crossbow across an open field, the discovery that the Beast was a bit of a coward, and Felix attempting to sneak under a door only to discover a Troll with a big club on the other side. That discovery left a bit of a mark on Felix’s forehead. The final act of the skirmish had Lux attempting to leap off a tower and hit a fleeing Troll on the head on the way down. It would have been marvelous if she hadn’t misjudged her timing by a little bit… As it was, she was very fortunate in two ways, first that the Troll didn’t trample her on the way out and second that she wasn’t male as she landed in a very unfortunate way upon her battleax, that might leave a scar as well.
The castle, proper, was breath-taking to look at; a series of beautiful and strongly-constructed buildings propped next to a waterfall, crossing the waterfall at points with delicate stone arches (and no guard rails) leading to a tower at the top of the waterfall.
The second problem was that the Count had a big (actually HUGE) alchemically constructed guard dog on the first bridge that was not allowing anybody to pass. Archie overcame this problem by wearing a uniform from a dead human guard across the bridge. The Beast loved the dog at first sight.
The rest of the adventure featured the group climbing ever higher up the castle, which was deserted and defeating all sort of traps and tricks. Towards the top, the group started encountering animated dead creatures (which brought the Whispering Way to mind) and forced the group to leave the Beast and the Judge behind. At the very top the group found the Count, bound in a wire trap and incapable of speaking.
They also found an abominable over-grown scorpion creature left over from the Shining Crusade. It was nearly completely magic-proof so Archie and Harry could not affect it, Lux tried to defeat it but was grabbed by one of its claws and rendered unconscious by severe grinding. Ottavio got in a couple of good shots that damaged the creature but not severely and he was desperately trying to figure out what to do next when the Beast showed up, having been sent ahead by the Judge. The Beast yelled his battle cry “Friends!” and went berserk. The battle between the Beast (Strength of 65) and the Scorpion-thing (which absorbed 180 points of damage) was short, epic, and brutal and left the Beast on the verge of death from his wounds.
The group freed the Count and he commandeered Harry and Felix to assist him in saving the Beast’s life through manic alchemical surgery.
After the surgery, the Count expressed intense rage at Auren Vrood, the man who led the attack on his castle, tortured the Count, and used the Beast to get the Seasage Effigy. He gave the group a bag of powder to give to Vrood with plenty of water. When asked what it does, he replied, “I don’t know, I’ve never hated anybody enough to find out.” But it should create an intensely painful acid cloud, so the Count advised that the group move away quickly after giving Vrood the powder.
The Judge very grudgingly agreed to become the new Castellan for Schoss Caramarc, mostly because she was afraid of the potential mischief the Count could get into if not properly watched.