|01/08/2004||03/03/1374 DR - 03/20/1374 DR|
The next week was a quiet one for the party. The winter was hard, even for the inhabitants of Silverymoon. There was little going on. Mostly, people wanted to keep warm.
On the evening of 9 Ches, the party received a summons to the High Palace to meet with Fredegar, the next day at mid-morning. When they arrived, they were shown into a sitting room where they found a table of food waiting for them (much to Yassel's pleasure).
After a few minutes, Fredegar joined them. He told them that he had read the reports from the Knights in Silver, and wanted to hear the party's take on what happened. He particularly questioned them about possible connections that the assassins could have had with the Arcane Brotherhood. He also wanted to hear more about the Arcane Brotherhood employing clerics of Cyric, and was disturbed about this.
Fredegar concluded from their tales that the group would probably be safe for now as any assassins will be laying low for a while. The group should be careful in the future, however, as the assassins might try to get revenge on them for their actions. Following their discussion, Fredegar left the party to enjoy the buffet that had been set out.
The next week was once again quiet and snowy. Accumulation within Silverymoon was only a few inches, but those who looked beyond its gates saw blizzard conditions only a few hundred yards away.
During that time, the party attempted to find the gypsy woman who they had met near the docks and had told their fortune. Eltairin and Yassel gathered what information that they about her, finding that she was seen from time to time roaming the market district. Someone also told Yassel on the sly that she could be contacted by paying off the bartender at the Dancing Goat.
Yassel went to the Dancing Goat and talked to the bartender. After slipping him a couple of platinum pieces, Yassel was told to go to the docks at noon on the next day if he wanted to talk with the gypsy woman.
The next day (17 Ches), Yassel and Daria went to the docks for their meeting with the gypsy woman.
About mid-morning, the party received a note from Felix, the loremaster who had hired the party to explore the obelisk in town. He told them that druids of Meilikki had approached the Wizards Guild, looking to hire adventurers for a mission. He naturally thought of the party, and recommended them to the druids. If the party was interested in working for the druids, they should go to the grove in town at their earliest convenience.
The party went to the grove, exchanged greetings with the druids, and then got down to business. The druids told them that the weather near Silverymoon has been unnaturally harsh over the past few months. (The party already had observed the severity of the winter prior to this.) They have been able to locate the source of the disturbance: somewhere northeast of the city in the forests just to the west of the Nether Mountains. They wanted to hire the group to find out what exactly was causing the problem and correct the situation.
Yassel now spoke up,and asked about payment. The druids offered 1500 gp worth of gems to the party and a bottle of elven wine for each of them. Kartoffl spoke up, and his was changed to a small cask of dwarven ale. After this brief negotiation, the party agreed to help the druids.
The party could make preparations, and when they were ready, they would be teleported to a pre-established spot on the road near the forest containing the source of the disturbance. (This had already been arranged through the Wizard's Guild.) After the situation was dealt with, the party would be able to walk back to Silverymoon at their leisure.
The party asked if there was anyone in the area who could be contacted for more information. The druids mentioned Humphgrough, a treant, who lived in that forest. The groups should be able to find him within a short distance of the teleportation site.
The party spent some time discussing measures of keeping themselves warm and avoiding avalanches. In the end, the group bought several endure elements scrolls. Yassel also bought 6 thunderstones that he could use in his sling to trigger avalanches from a distance.
The next day (18 Ches), the party returned to the druids' grove. A wizard from the Guild was waiting with the druids to teleport them to the predetermined spot along the road north of Silverymoon. When they were set, they were on their way. One moment, they were standing in a calm grove, and the next they were on a lonely,cold road with a steady, blowing snowstorm underway.
After orienting themselves, they headed off into the woods. Their trek was uneventful except that a large branch almost fell on Thistle; fortunately he was able to avoid it. After what seemed like hours, several of the party saw what seemed like a tree moving. As the got closer, the tree called out to them, "You over there! What are you doing in my forest?"
After convincing Humphgrough that they had been sent by the druids of Meilikki and were there to help, the treant told them what he knew of the situation. He told them that for the last two months or so, a perpetual storm has ravaged the forest. As far as he could tell, the storm seems to originate from a mountain that juts out of the mountains to the east. Many years ago, a reclusive wizard built a tower on that mountainside. The wizard never posed a threat to the forest, and has not been seen for many years. Given the short life span of humans, Humphgrough presumes that the wizard is long dead.
Humphgrough told them that shortly after the storms began, "elemental spirits" have been coming down the mountain, destroying trees and scaring off indigenous wildlife. These angry spirits typically manifest as swirling vortices of air, mist, and snow. Both Kartoffl and Setara were able to recognize these "spirits" to be air elementals.
The party asked for more details on the location of the mountain. Humphgrough was able to describe its location in great detail. He also told them that although he had not been there in many years, he recalled that the trip to him many phases of the moon to complete. This did not phase the group too much as they realized how slow Humphgrough seemed to move. (In fact he seemed to do everything quite slowly, including speaking, much to Yassel's frustration.) When Yassel asked about payment for ending the threat to the woods, Humphgrough told them simply to come back and see him after the storms had been ended.
After the party had finished speaking with Humphgrough, they set out to find the mountain that he had described. The rest of the day passed without incident, except for a singular gust of wind that caught Eltairin unawares of knocked him to the ground. They camped in the most sheltered spot that they could find.
In the morning (19 Ches), they set out again towards the mountain. At this point, they were actually able to see the mountain, and they estimated that they would reach it by mid-afternoon. Their trip to the mountain seemed to take forever in the driving winds and snow. Luckily, the only trouble they encountered along the way was a large branch that struck Thistle as it fell to the ground.
They reached the mountain by mid-afternoon as they had estimated. The peak of the rocky spire rose to meet the stormy clouds. They could see that the summit had been sheared off, and high atop this flattened peak danced a great whirlwind that seemed to feed on the energy of the storm.
Quick flashes of lightning illuminated a black tower perched atop a lonely overhang nearly 500 ft. above. A narrow footpath clutched the nearby rockface and snaked up the mountainside toward a flat rise due west of the dark, sepulchral tower. Yassel also claimed to see the glint of a bridge upon the overhand, connecting two sections, but no one else in the group was able to spot it.
Realizing that they did not have enough daylight left to reach the overhang and explore, the party decided to camp for the night and climb up in the morning. They were able to find an uninhabited cave where they built a fire and spent the night.
On the 20th of Ches, they walked up the long, winding path. They tied themselves together to prevent anyone from being blown off the trail and down the mountain. Fortunately, they were able to reach the naturally flat rise some 500 ft. above the forest floor without incident.
On this rise, they saw 6 monolithic stones, configured to form a crude hexagon, rising 50 ft. into the air. Within the 90 ft.-diameter, they saw dozens of large, dancing whirlwinds. An eerie howling was emanating from them. Setara understood the howlings as the elementals praising a deity called Akadi, but did not know who Akadi was. No one else in the party knew anything about Akadi except that it was some sort of elemental deity.
Upon hearing the howling, Yassel was strangely attracted to the monoliths and started wandering towards them. Fortunately, he was still tied to the rest of the group, and so he could not wander far. Kartoffl slapped some sense into him, and Yassel seemed to recover without any ill effects.
Passing the monolith, the party
saw a 20-foot-wide, 250-foot-long, glass bridge, nigh invisible from a distance
spanning the chasm between the monoliths and the looming tower. The bottom of the chasm was
some 500 feet below.
The party discussed how they were going to try to cross the bridge. They noted that snow was not accumulating on the bridge as the wind was blowing it away as quickly as it could land. Eltairin tested his slippers of spider climbing on the bridge, and finding that they provided good traction, decided to walk across. Yassel decided to drink his potion of spider climb so that he could also safely walk across. Daria chose to walk across, hoping that being tied to the rest of the party would add stability. The rest of the party chose to crawl across for maximum stability.
About half way across, a 5-foot-tall creature with bat wings that looked as if it were made of solid ice flew menacingly at the party. Everyone prepared to melee combat as the wind was too intense for missile fire. Setara cast a fireball spell at the creature, hurting it badly. The creature responded by hitting her with 3 magic missiles and flying away. Noting that the creature was healing rapidly, Setara cast another fireball at the creature, killing it. The group reached the other side of the bridge without further incident.
The overhang on the other side was similar to the other side. It was level and flat. The wind swept across it, keeping the snow from accumulating on it. Before them, the rest of the mountain loomed, rising at least another 500 ft. Everyone, except Kartoffl and Daria, spotted a solitary door in the face of the mountain.
Just to their left, the wizard's tower stood. Constructed of smooth black stone, this tower stands over 200 feet tall. Lightning bolts periodically strike a long metal spire affixed to the tower's conical roof. Six rectangular windows are spaced equidistantly around the tower's circumference at four different levels. There was no sign of an entrance, however.
Since Yassel still had his spider climb potion running, he slowly and carefully climbed the tower. Stealthily, he peered into the closest window. He saw that the interior of the tower was in ruins. Only the empty shell of stone still stood. Small platforms of jagged stone jutted from the outer walls to indicate where the floors had once been. Inside, he also saw one more of those ice creatures, just like the one that had attacked the party on the bridge. Yassel climbed back down, being careful not to alert the creature to his presence. The party chose not to explore the tower further.
They went up to the door set into the mountain. It was a 10-foot-wide, 10-foot-high stone door engraved with an exquisite, circular diorama depicting powerful beings from the four elemental planes: a dwarf with flaming hair and arms, a muscular man with a lower torso of swirling mist, a monstrous squid, and a great toothy worm burrowing through rock. There was no obvious handles or keyhole, however.
When the party got close to the door, it spoke the following riddle, "What is large enough to fill the sky, yet small enough to pass through the smallest hole?"
Kartoffl and Eltairin quickly replied, "Air," causing strange glyphs to appear in the center of the diorama.
Setara recognized that the glyphs as being mystical, and used a read magic spell to decipher them. When she did, she was able to read, "Ring to Enter."
The party pondered the meaning of this for a while. Daria thought about looking for a ring of some sort in the diorama, but could not find one. Yassel searched, and found a ring-shaped depression in the center of the door.
The party experimented with this mark. First, they tried a non-magical ring in the door, but nothing happened. After some discussion, they next inserted Setara's ring of feather fall into the door. The door then started to sink slowly into the ground. Daria quickly grabbed the ring out of the door, but it continued to drop. Yassel checked for traps on the other side, then crossed over, and found a switch the he thought would open and close the door from the other side. Daria checked Setara's ring and found it to still be magical. After the door had opened completely, the rest of the party entered, and Yassel closed the door behind them.
They stood at the end of a 10-foot-wide corridor with 20-foot-high, arched ceilings. The walls were well-constructed; Kartoffl theorized that they must have been built by dwarves. Thirty feet ahead, there was an intersect of corridors.
The party went down to the intersection. Each of the side corridors were only 10-feet-long and ended in a door. The rest of the corridor continued on for forty feet where it T-ed with another corridor.
They checked the left door first. Behind it, they found a 30' x 30' room containing wooden racks that hold wine bottles. The party spent time to make sure that there were no secret doors in here, but did little exploring beyond that (much to Yassel's displeasure).
They went to the right door next. Behind it, they found a 30' x 30' room storing books and manuscripts. A quick check of this room found no secret doors and nothing magical. The only book that caught Daria's interest was a fantastic travelogue of the city-states of the Vast.
The party walked down to the end of the corridor. Each of the side passages went 50-feet before ending in a door. The left corridor had a door on the right, 35 feet down. A check for secret doors turned up a door at the T.
The party went down the right corridor. That door was made of iron, was cold, and had a pull chain to open it. When it was opened, they were greeted by a rush of hot air. The walls of the room beyond were covered with charcoal scrawlings, while all of the furnishings appeared scarred by fire. Standing amid the piles of ash was a squat, childlike creature with molten flesh wreathed in searing flames. Its fiery eyes erupted briefly as it charged toward the open door. Daria promptly shut the door, and the party left .
The party went to the right hand door. It was wooden and re-enforced. Upon opening, they saw a 30' x 40' room. A pair of long wooden tables rested against the far wall. the left table was covered with papers, the right table with delicate glassware and alchemical equipment. A wooden stool sat in front of each table. Between the tables,mounted to the wall, was an iron up-down lever currently in the "up" position. Covering the floor was hundreds of chalk glyphs.
The party studied the glyphs on the floor. Setara noted that they were mostly alchemical shorthand and symbols. It looked as if the alchemist had scribbled notes on the floor; none of them looked "trap-like" in any way.
Thistle then thought to look at the ceiling. He saw a spiked grillwork mounted to the ceiling. When Yassel examined it (from outside the room), he noted that the grillwork could not move or drop in any way if it were a trap; however, he could not tell if it were one or how it would work. The party shut the door, vowing to return later.
They went to the last visible door in the corridor. Behind that, they saw a 20' x 20' room. Carved into the floor was a 15-foot-diameter circle surrounded by arcane symbols. bolted in the middle of each wall, near the base, was a thick iron chain with a manacle at the end.
The party examined the room without entering. Setara proclaimed it to be a summoning room. The rest of the party found it to be empty and without any secret doors, so they did not investigate it further.
Lastly, they checked out the secret door. It was a large stone door. Thistle tried to open it with Kartoffl and Eltairin helping, but could not budge the thing. Setara detected magic on it, and stated that it must be arcane locked.She cast a knock spell from a scroll, and the door opened. She made sure that the door was spiked open, so that it would not close behind them.
Beyond the door, they saw a corridor. About 20 feet down, they saw a curtain of fire barring their way. Setara cast detect magic again, and determined that the wall had auras of evocation and universal, and proclaimed that it must be a permanent wall of fire. Kartoffl managed to dispel the wall, and the party quickly crossed through in case the wall .reappeared.
The room beyond was circular. Its ceiling, though lost in darkness, was clearly supported by enormous granite columns carved to resemble female warriors. These supports merged seamlessly with the walls. A wooden basket, large enough to carry five or six humans, was suspended by a series of ropes just above the floor in the middle of the room. An iron up-down lever was set into the left-hand wall near to entrance tunnel. The lever was in the "up" position.
As the party entered the room, a smoky creature appeared before them. It was a demonic entity with large bat wings, clawed tendrils, and a biting maw. A battle ensued with the party destroying the creature.
Soon after the battle, the wall of fire reappeared. Figuring that the lever on the wall controlled the wall of fire, Daria used mage hand to flip the switch to the "down" position. This did lower the wall of fire. She did not try to touch or even get close to the switch because Yassel reported hearing a buzzing sound from the switch, but could not figure out the cause of it.
The party climbed into the basket, and Daria spoke the word, "Rise." With that, the basket began to rise several hundred feet upwards. Three or four minutes later, the basket emerged from the mountain and hung from a large wheel mounted to an iron trestle.
The party was completely surrounded by the roiling storm though the mountaintop was clear. On one side they saw a large gray horn levitating just above the mountaintop. Below the horn, a rolled-up leather hose rested, connected to a large triangular bellows. About 30 feet away from the horn, a huge howling vortex rotated wildly. From within the vortex emerged a low voice that crackled like lightning.
Setara, to her surprise and the party's, found that she could speak to the vortex. She soon discovered that it was an elder air elemental by the name of Sushalaw. With much coaxing, she was able to get some information from the arrogant and annoyed elemental.
It had been stranded on this plane for several months, summoned by a blowing of the stormhorn. (It did not know who originally blew the horn as it did not see anyone around after it appeared.) Since then, it has tried several times to use the horn to open a passage back, so it could escape. Unfortunately each time it stopped blowing, the portal closed before it could get through it. The constant use of the horn caused several lesser elementals to come through, and caused the weather disturbances.
The party moved over to the horn. Eltairin reconnected the hose to the bellows, allowing the party to blow the horn. Once they started blowing the horn, a portal opened, and the elder elemental left. They continued blowing the horn until all of the smaller elementals could escape through the portal. The whole process took about 3/4 of an hour, and the party was exhausted by the time they were finished.
They disconnected the hose and bellows
from the horn after they were finished. After
they decided to
destroy both to
prevent them from
being used again. They
then tossed them
off the side of
|01/21/2004||03/20/1374 DR - 03/23/1374 DR|
An exhausted party descended the mountain in the basket. After some examination, they found the circular room to be undisturbed even though they had left the wall of fire down.
Since she was still protected from lightning thanks to Kartoffl's spell, she decided to test the lever manually. A simple touch produced an audible "zap" as electricity discharged into her. Fortunately, the protection held, and she was unhurt.
Daria then used her mage hand to raise the wall of fire, and the party rested for the remainder of the day within the room. Yassel put the time to good use by starting to learn the marked deck of cards that he got from Mantatlus' manor.
Sometime while they were resting, Kartoffl walked over to the wall of fire to test which side was hot. He found that he was able to walk right up to the wall without feeling at all hot.
The next morning (21 Ches), the party used a rope lasso to trip the lever controlling the wall of fire, and went to the alchemical laboratory.
They tried to figure out the spiked gridwork on the ceiling. A copper piece thrown into the room did not elicit any response. Daria then used mage hand to move the lever on the back wall into the "down" position. Yassel ran into the room passing under the gridwork, and nothing unusual happened. Eltairin did the same thing with the same result. Kartoffl then stepped into the room, and picked up the coins. The rest of the party followed.
They proceeded to search the back part of the room. Yassel found a secret compartment in the right hand table, which contained a wand. Setara inspected the notes and equipment, and found both to be essentially worthless. The party chose to take the alchemical notes never-the-less.
Yassel, being perpetually curious, flipped the lever to the "up" position and darted out of the room. He was disappointed that nothing happened to him. Daria flipped the lever back down, and the party left the room.
The party discussed what to do about the fiery creature behind the cold door. Kartoffl recalled that such creatures were called magmen. They are chaotic neutral, and extremely mischievous. They like to watch things burn, perhaps lacking the ability to realize that other creatures are not immune to the effects of fire. He, therefore, persuaded the group to leave the magman behind the door, and to inform the authorities in Silverymoon about it.
The party next went back to the wine cellar. After a half-hour of searching, they managed to find one bottle of drinkable wine: an 800-year-old bottle of elven wine from the Dales. The party chose not to investigate any further. Eltairin selects a few bottles at random to bring back, not selecting for if the wine was drinkable.
They crossed the hall to the book storage room. After much searching, Daria found 6 astrological charts that were still usable.
Next, they decided to check out the wizard's tower in more detail. After the party inspected the tower at ground level for secret doors, Eltairin used his slippers of spider climbing to scale the wall and look inside. The medium-sized ice mephit was still inside. Unfortunately, it spotted Eltairin, causing him to scamper down with the mephit after him.
A short battle ensued. Both Eltairin and Thistle hit the creature with arrows. Setara finished it off with a fireball.
Kartoffl, with Eltairin's guidance, used stone shape to form a door and ramp into the tower. A search of the tower turned up only a wooden strong box; everything else had been badly crushed and smashed. Inside the box, the party found 300 gp and a ring.
The party spent a little time examining the ring and wand. Eltairin found that both were magical, but could not determine the schools to which their auras belonged. The wand had faint enchantment while the ring had strong enchantment. Setara also cast a detect magic, and was only able to identify the aura of the ring: adjuration. Kartoffl examined the ring and found tiny flickering flames etched into the ring. Given this information, Setara guessed that the ring was either a major or minor ring of protection from fire.
The party went back inside to experiment with the basket elevator. They found that one had to be inside the basket for their commands to be effective. Once the basket was in motion, no commands could stop it mid-way. The basket did not stop even if someone, Setara with her ring of feather fall, jumped out while it was moving. After all of this, they chose to leave the basket down at the bottom.
The party then raised the wall of fire, sealed the secret door, closed the main door to the complex, and left the mountain. As they left, they could notice already that the temperature had increased, and that the snow was melting.
It took them 2 days to find Humphgrough
again, finding him on 23 Ches. They explained what they had accomplished, trying
to speak as slowly as possible. He was pleased, and rewarded the party
with a sack of items: a tanglefoot bag, a masterwork battle axe, a magical amulet,
and a potion. He
asked that the party inform the druids back in Silverymoon.
© Copyright Maryrita Steinhour, 2002, 2003.