Our clearing of the upper levels of the keep proceeded apace after our rest. However, the battles took their toll, and we could not afford to rest again lest the dark ritual to Shar be completed before our arrival. We descended into the ritual room to find a truly nightmarish scene – the portal to Shadraxil's prison dangerously close to opening, Kalarel sacrificing a paladin of Kelemvor on his dark altar, undead in the area, and another young warrior waiting to be sacrificed.
I had little time to assess the lay of the board, as the Kalarel had already played the opening moves. However, the presence of a new piece on the board gave me some hope, even if it was potentially only a pawn. The layout of the room also prohibited Elithia and Kalar removing themselves from the line of fire – a situation that proved to be to our advantage in the long run, as both found themselves en prise by Kalarel's forces, saving Rurick and I some wounds in the opening gambit. I must take care not to overload either one of them – a few seconds of drawing enemy attacks should be enough, and their offensive abilities need to be brought into play as quickly as possible.
I released the young warrior – whom I now know to be Sir Braelyn, a paladin in service to Kelemvor – and by doing so, promoted him to a much more powerful piece on the field – he quickly proved to be as fierce of a rook as Rurick. After helping disengage Elithia and allow her to begin her back-rank strikes, I moved to assist Rurick and Sir Braelyn with the skeletons and keeping Kalarel in constant check.
Kalarel proved to be a canny opponent, and with the wight serving as his second, challenged my tactical acumen as they manipulated the very fabric of the board around us. Shadraxil's ability to manipulate his prison was an unforseen hazard, and Kalarel's relative immunity to the dark tendrils nearly proved to be our undoing in the endgame, when both Rurick and I were rendered unconscious. I understand that Elithia once again fletched the final blows, disrupting the ritual and trapping Shadraxil fully once again (with Kalarel in tow, as punishment for his failure.)
Our resources, energy, and reserves spent, we've returned to the hobgoblin warren to recuperate for a bit, and I can take some time again to evaluate my performance and evaluation of my companions. I need to react more quickly to changing board placements – I know of at least two missed opportunities to keep my pieces in motion and swing the battlefield momentum. Elithia has fully established herself as my "back-rank mate" – she nearly felled a dark priestess entirely on her own with a flurry of arrow strikes. Rurick and I finally began to find a rapport, supporting each other on the field. Sir Braelyn is mostly unknown to me at this point, but he seems a little easier to direct than Rurick. Dot continues to display versatility on the field, but does need to learn when to retreat when she finds herslef as an isolani en prise.
Grandmaster help me, I need to figure out a way to speak with Kalar about his use of area-effect spells. Specifically, to encourage him to not include Rurick and I in his effects without our consent. There are times when it makes tactical sense to make such a forced move, but common courtesy dicatates at least a consultation, if not a chance to move prior to his making it.
But now – sleep. Tomorrow we make our trek back to Winterhaven to report our success, grant the long-waiting family of Sir Keegan a proper burial, and enjoy some well-deserved down-time. My mouth is fairly watering for some of Ms. Wrafton's stew, and a slice of her Frost Berry pie…
Quick and dirty placeholder notes from 1/9/09:
- Sir Braelyn "joined" the group – a pawn turned rook
- Nasty, bad necrotic damage
- Dot dropped, then Alain and Rurick
- Better spread of damage around the party
- Elithia for the kill
- Talked to Sir Keegan