Emerging from the church into the early morning fog, the Oberen Family are stopped by Captain Julian Helstrom of the Corvis Watch. He questions them on their involvement with Father Dumas and Alexia Ciannor before charging them with investigating Alexia’s apparent hideaway, Fort Rhyker. They’re not to fight Alexia’s force if they can help it, recon only. Captain Helstrom offers a reward if the family can find 2 members of the Watch he sent up a week ago to investigate the Fort and never returned.
Outside Fort Rhyker
The Family arrival several hours later at the stony fields surrounding the fort. Numerous teams of thralls are busy loading wagons with bones from mass graves that dot the moors around the fort. Fabian’s wife provides a distraction and the rest of the family rush into the gatehouse.
Investigating the gatehouse, they find the ingredients to mass produce an army of thralls. Further in the gatehouse, the family bump into their first experience with a more aware form of the Thrall process and seems to emanate a feeling of cold and brittleness. They quickly kill the monster and finish their investigation of the gatehouse. Discovering the drawbridge controls, they make their plans to detonate the powder kegs Captain Helstrom gave them as a means to destroy half the bridge and hopefully trap Alexia in the fort.
Attempting to cross the drawbridge to the fort proper, the family are attacked by a group of assassins. Fortunately, their sniper perch crumbles, causing the assassins to tumble to their deaths. One lands on the drawbridge and Bairn Jr recognizes a tattoo on the man’s hand. It’s the symbol of the Inquisition – a Cygnaran secret police from the time of King Raelthorne IV. After the Lion’s Coup, the King Leto disbanded the group and many members executed for their crimes.
Investigating the keep, the family find a chamber where Alexia has been creating the more intelligent Thralls leading patrols around Fort Rhyker. Charles destroys the half-made creatures with Wraithbane, and Kaede grabs several pages of notes in a strange language (but not before the skull paperweight takes a bite out of his hand). Further investigation turns up a Gorax lair with the remains of the missing Corvis Watch members. The Family make plans to detonate the lair as well, since it has a passageway out of the Fort.
Heading up to the top of the Fort walls, Kaede gets the first glimpse of Alexia’s army in the courtyard. Hundreds of thrall warriors stand at the ready, with nearly a hundred of the lieutenants giving orders. Bairn Jr peeked in the windows of a building and sees Alexia and the reanimated witches mass-producing thralls for her army. Not wanting to risk discovery, the family make plans to detonate their barrels and head back to the gatehouse.
Both bombs detonate without incident, but attempts to raise the Gatehouse half of the bridge goes wrong when the ancient mechanika fails and the gate falls back open. Without any additional means of disabling the bridge, the family leave it as-is, hoping the destroyed other half will be enough to delay or trap Alexia and her army.
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