With Karvenn resurrected and the party itching for at least one more delve into the Chateau before hard winter came, they left behind sour fortune in Glantri's capital: Hans beaten up by a gang lead by a jilted husband; Richard humiliated by a rival bureaucrat and left in the cold; Martin not finding the right goblin slaves for his purposes. Good tidings came in Martin's reunion with the filthy street-urchin and candy-lover Aerie, who tagged along.
They decided to bang at the indestructible rotten pinata of the Moar Bird Aviary once again, remembering a secret door left untried. They had fought many of these birds and felt competent in their tactics, even if Robert Hazart and his magical cube of lightning was left behind.
But the place had grown strange. They should have pieced it together — the undead stalking the countryside, Charles le Donne returning to ghoul-form after his corpse was left in the dungeons. The sounds of crunching and slurping lead them into a familiar bedchamber where two of the wicked death-birds had been transformed into twisted ghouls, beaks more ferocious, bodies creaking with maggots and black phlegm.
The party dispatched this bird and then a wandering troupe of skeletal warriors while barricading themselves inside the bedroom — heaped with destroyed, marrow-sucked moar bird carcasses — until Martin revived from paralysis.
The party stalked on. Their caution was good, their tactics strong, for the most part. Stray characters got nicked by the graveyard touch here and there, but they never faced an onslaught.
The party pressed on, breaking up guano-furniture-bone nests of valuables. The idea was to check all the rooms possible. They'd been here several times already, chased off before exploring fully. Never facing more than one bird at a time, and once two side by side, they were caught dragging the still-paralyzed form of Breca down a circular stairwell. Managing a tactic possibly purely at random, a ghoul-bird appeared at both ends of the staircase. Hans buried his axe into the chest of the one at the bottom while Karvenn and Martin tried to take the one up top.
But these creatures get three strikes. Their claws and beaks not doing much damage, but touched with paralysis. One by one the party went down, with little Aehie, regularly safe in the middle, the last to go.
What saved them? Martin le Black had won - in these same chambers - a Ring Proof Against Poisons. A spider climbs from its ensconcement over his body to suck out the substance that ails him. This freed him from the body hold, but burned the item out. While dragged to the bird's perch to be devoured, he kicked free, fell over the balcony, and watched one of the birds dive-bomb to its death before taking care of the other. Breathing heavily, fearfully, exhaustedly, he pulled each of his mates into a small room and waited, lost and lonely, until their muscles revived.
Losses & Loot
The party defeated seven skeletal soldiers and six undead bird-men. They gathered up several hundred gold coins, various gewgaws, a magic sword, a magically-preserved axe and a gold necklace set with a chipped opal.
For creatures defeated and wealth acquired in looting the chambers surrounding the Aviary, each party member received 360xp.