Even as the defeated vampires’ bodies rot to dust the party is well aware that there is no time to rest on the laurels: a shadow hastily slipping around the bend of a far-way corridor warns of the escape of one of the vile bloodsuckers, and the danger of the fugitive rousing the castle to arms. Conscious that time is against them, the Little and the Large waste none in rushing after the fiend.
Only to find that a welcoming committee has already assembled to invite them to enjoy the singular hospitality of Castle Bleak! The massive, inhuman form of the lord of the castle, Elder Ysnt himself, stands at the far end of the room, his personal guard assembling around him as a mortal thrall finishes strapping a spectral armour plate to his lord’s body. Even as the out-of-breath heroes hastily draw into a defensive formation, Ysnt bids them welcome in a guttural and strangely accented voice. “Hans has informed me I have unexpected visitors”, Ysnt says, gesturing towards a familiar vampire cowering servilely in the corner. “Alas, I am unable to attend to your welcome at the moment, but rest assured my men will arrange entertainments worthy of such… audacious guests.”
As Ysnt turns and departs the hall, a blinding flash rends the air and tall planes of glass – some mirrored, some opaque, some transparent – slam into the ground, turning the entire room into a devilish maze and separating friend and foe alike. The battle now turns into a dangerous game of hide and seek within a labyrinthine and ever-changing configuration of tiny rooms and cramped corridors, as vampire and adventurer vie for even a fleeting moment of tactical advantage amidst its shifting boundaries. Most dangerously of all, a spectral spirit inhabits the crystalline construct, stalking the corridors and effortlessly slipping through the walls to mete punishment on those who have dared to disturb its master’s peace.
The battle is long and draining, but marshalling their experience the heroes manage to slowly turn the tide to their favour. One by one the vampires fall to dust, until only the raging spectre remains – then it, too, is banished by the magic and skills of the Little and the Large. As its final scream shatters the labyrinth, the party has a moment to gather their strengths, knowing that long though the night has been, the hardest battle yet lies ahead.
As if cognisant of the heroes’ thoughts, the anteroom doors slowly swing open again, their hinges creaking and shedding flakes of rust. Beyond lies the heart of the castle, a massive arched hollow overseen by dusty painted-glass windows. At its far end lies a giant sarcophagus, lid open and propped against the wall. And before the coffin stands a giant figure of a man, now fully clad in battle armour. Unperturbed by the violation of his sanctum sanctorum Elder Ysnt commands his thrall to provide suitable musical accompaniment to the evening’s activities – “The organ! Lets us now dance!” – and then motions towards gigantic, barely visible shadows hanging from the rafters.
With an ear-piercing screech a flock of monstrously bloated vampires bats detach from the ceiling and hurl themselves at the Little and the Large – only to be rebuffed by an equally fierce flurry of magic and steel. Immediately seizing the moment Max intones an arcane command and a shimmering violation in the fabric of reality opens before the dark knight, a mirror oval appearing before the startled Ysnt. Charging through the portal the party gains a brief advantage over the vampire lord – but Ysnt cannot be contained by such stratagems alone. Brushing heroes aside with almost casual ease, capable of both enduring and dealing massive punishment, his very form shimmering in and out of the physical realm, Ysnt tests the already exhausted party to the utmost limits of their ability.
As they desperately fight for any advantage against the vampire the heroes find themselves rebuffed and cut down over and over again. But even as Ysnt’s laughter echoes amidst the gigantic vaults of the ballroom, a note of unaccustomed worry enters into it. Who are these mortals, who, though crushed to the ground, yet refuse to stay down, who dare to raise themselves and defy his will? Ysnt’s endurance is nearly limitless, but even he finds himself sorely tested. For long moments the outcome of the struggle, one of the very hardest the Little and the Large have ever fought, hangs in balance.
Then, finally, Ysnt discovers that even an immortal ruler of the night must bow to the vagaries of fortune and battle; the organ’s final notes are a dirge over his ashes. Castle Bleak belongs to the Little and the Large.
Character status at end of session:
|Character||Hit Points||Healing Surges||Daily Powers used||Experience Points|
|Hollan||?||? remaining||?||81,409 (16)|
|Max||?||? remaining||?||85,769 (17)|
|Pennyworth||?||? remaining||?||79,775 (16)|
|Pieter||?||? remaining||?||83,424 (17)|
|Théorn||?||? remaining||?||85,091 (17)|