Damn that Moodeey! Having stolen the Dayheart and corrupted its energies to turn it into the black and evil Darkheart (who saw THAT coming except anyone who’s ever seen any movie ever?), the Super-Saiyan Lich used the gem’s powers to create a self-healing corpse-dragon made from the remains of the slaughtered Halflings of Barovia which he rode atop while cackling maniacally.
Anyway, our heroes sprung into action like never before, working as that finely-tuned harmonious machine we always knew that they would become after all their struggles (I give it a week). Trying everything from silver arrows into Moodeey’s forehead (where the Darkheart was submerged), to kill-it-with-fire-ing on the dragon, to “stop the corpses from healing the damn thing!” and all sorts of other smart solutions which didn’t work (more on those to come), the team in all their Level 13.99 Wisdom realized they needed to break through Moodeey’s “necro-shield” and get the Darkheart out the old fashioned way: with some good old elbow grease (and some actual Grease too).
Slink got really excited about his plan, and Itto shrugged and was like “Sure that works.” Slink then made Itto recite a random comic panel while everyone sat around confused, and THEN: Quinn teleported Itto, Slink, and Gayher (who was riding on Itto’s back) onto the top of the dragon as Slink gave Rayne some Holy H20 to anoint her arrows, and everyone pummeled the lich-dick with blinding positive energy until they all worked together to just TUG that mother-fucker outta there. Yu’in was sadly incapacitated since Moodeey decided to implant a rather inconvenient mind-and-body-controlling necro-cyst onto Yu’in’s neck. It was not pretty, especially when it exploded and killed the dwarf. More on that to come.
However, they managed to get the Darkheart mostly out…then realized they had to do it…2 more times. Since “The Legend of Zelda” is clearly part of Tarragonia’s historic canon, the heroes immediately understood the formula, and continued to complement each other’s move-sets to do what was necessary.
The bad news was, Yu’in was then killed by a vengeful Moodeey, and the Count (who had been allowed to be revived when a surprisingly-selfless (or maybe just intelligently-calculating) Slink let him drink his blood) was mind-controlled by Moodeey and began attacking the team. The tide of battle was at a deadlock, and then Quinn was knocked unconscious and Slink was stunned (literally). It was not looking good.
As if on cue by some Gods of Dramatic Timing, a screeching was heard from Varick’s Castle ( Crow’s Keep) as 48 (or was it 4d8? Or 9?) zombified Jilqwyns came sprinting-the-fuck out and turning the tide of battle yet again — with a very bad-ass-looking Jil leading her undead sisters to seek final vengeance on the Count for allowing them all to die.
I’d say “Man that party was real DEAD” but feel that may be in poor taste.
Anyway, a few more dramatic moments of Teamwork and Cooperation ensued, and Moodeey and his dragon were brought down (It Was Raining Corpses, Hallelujah), the Darkheart pulled from his forehead at last. Team Trust stood overhead, victorious, the Count returned to normal, and the Tser Gypsies and Sebastian’s Dark Hunters arrived on the scene, to witness the great “win”. However, there was some debate about what to do next, to say the least…
Sebastian insisted the Count be killed and life be allowed to return to Barovia, and the Tsers agreed (laaaame). This would also require destroying the Darkheart, which was giving Jil new necromantic powers, and losing the Count’s powerful undead forces in the fight against Dracarys (super lame). The Count, of course, wished to live and promised Jil his army’s undying loyalty, a real Deal with the Devil. But still, a difficult moral quandary. Kinda.
Oh and meanwhile Moodeey got away. Again. “I’ll get you next time! And Your Giant Wolf too!” sorta thing.
Slink then had the genius idea to kill the Count by hand but keep the Darkheart for themselves, thus satisfying the Dark Hunters and also Itto’s “Evil is bad derrr” Paladin crap, and since the Dark Hunters had said they’d planned to fall on their swords after enacting vengeance on the Count, they could do that, but then allow Jil to use her powers to resurrect them…thus giving Team Trust the Army of Darkness they had been hoping to find (again, except Itto). This seemed like a great idea to pretty much everyone but Sebastian and his men and the Tsers and also the Count and also kind of to Jil. Sometimes true genius is not truly recognized in its time.
It was, of course, Jil who made the final Judgment: the Darkheart must be destroyed. She crushed it with her own hand, looking into Varick’s eyes the whole time with a stony glare of a “Woman Scorned” and eventually holding his very heart, which then crumbled into dust, along with Varick himself and his forces.
After such a dark turn, light finally began to shine through the deep fog (metaphors! huh huh!) that had been surrounding them, and the Dark Hunters and Tsers all knelt before their new queen…Jilqwyn, Queen of the Damned. Pretty hot. They gave her ownership over Crow’s Keep, as well as their swords (figuratively speaking; they kept their actual swords). The heroes heard a “ching!” (as if a message were telling them “Mission Complete!..?”) and a “bing” (of XP) in their ears, as the clouds parted way to reveal that the road East to Cliff Port, Pirate’s Bay, and eventually, the Gnomish Isles came into view with various “ALL ABOARD!” type-encouragement from the townspeople.
But as fun as pirate adventures sound, Team Trust’s true path must lie in the rescuing of Lute at long last…North, at the corrupted Church of Hextor, where Quinn had rescued Archie but had told the group that Lute, among other VIPs, was being held prisoner. As if it weren’t complicated enough, Quinn also told the gang that the Everymen were holding down the Elven fort, but that some of Dracarys’ forces had moved to the Wild Elves of the Darkwild and their Temple of Arashne (former home of the Green Dragon). Meanwhile, the main part of his forces were headed BACK to the Half-Orc kingdom of Gruum, where the Blue Dragon had been. And don’t forget, Dracarys has those dragon eggs again so…this can’t be good. Anyone hear from Jon Sn—er Jimmy Powder lately?
But it seems “party loyalty” comes first, and the group turns its sights north, to their missing bard friend Lutervoc and the nefarious Blackheart, keeping court at the ominous Church of Hextor.
The life of an Adventuring Party, right gang??