Whisked away from the group on the shoulders of Korhaft, the galeb duhr, Faelar found himself carried downriver in search of Guldin, the galeb duhr from their previous encounter. Along the way he peppered the construct with questions in true bardic fashion, learning how the ages had effected the land, even changing the glow of the sky at dusk and dawn. Eventually they exited the tunnel and began tracking the rather noticeable path of escape Guldin left behind. They found that the tracks ended in a group of boulders…one of them ostensibly the galeb duhr in hiding. Plucking off his fingernails, Korhaft handed a few to Faelar, telling him they would cling to items or constructs of a magical nature. After throwing one to have it ping off, Korhaft nodded to Faelar, who did the same. His fingernail stuck with a metallic clack against the boulder, and Korhaft motioned him back.
Executing their plan of “I’ll hold him, you heal him” Korhaft and a transformed Guldin rolled about on the ground, nearly crushing Faelar several times as he slowly mended the crack in the galeb duhr’s head. With each shifting motion the gap would close JUST enough that Faeler could mend another portion, and after several spells, Guldin eventually stopped his movement, and allowed the healing to complete.
Once finished, Guldin’s demeanor changed immensely. Standing, he exchanged glad, confused words with Korhaft in a still-muddled, but intelligent conversational tone. Korhaft asked Faeler if he was up for a long trek back to his friends, or a possibly dangerous shorter route, and the half-elf gleefully continued down the path of adventure.
Joining hands, arms raised in front of them, the galeb duhr formed a doorway in which a portal of shimmering light appeared. Informing Faelar that they’d been enchanted with this ‘escape route home’ by their master, they knew it led to the first floor of the tower…but not exactly where. Faelar jumped through and in a familiar feeling of passing through a dimension door, suddenly found himself in a hallway full of doors, the walls lit a soft white.
As the rest of the party ended their battle with the glowing red and white suits of armor, they pushed forward to round the corner and were reunited with their bardic companion. Looking up and down the hallway at the doors, they noted that each had a switch set into the floor nearby, and the doors themselves contained a viewport at head height. Only one of these was open, and from it a flickering, blue light could be seen. Xarrai, not wanting to continue until he’d at least had a look, slowly approached the door with the open port, noting that it locked from the outside. Peering in he saw a humanoid figure and what looked like flashes of lightning. He was unable to determine if the figure was moving, or if the flashes of light only made it appear so, but, unnerved, he backed away and returned to the party. As he did so, a deep, gravelly voice called to him in his head, asking him “Devil-friend, you would not set them free?” Now thoroughly unsettled, Xarrai called to his companions, telling them he was hearing a voice in his head. As he did so, it spoke to a number of them in turn. Each spoke of what was said, and they gathered that the voice claimed to be the Archmage of the tower, who had been trapped in one of his own experiments. He begged them to set him free, to their great reward.
Each person responded differently to the voice; Xarrai seemed unnerved. Ke’shin became furious. Vahn challenged it directly, guessing that it might be fiendish in nature, promising it violence. None of them trusted the voice.
Leading the adventurers, Asade Nar thought she could just barely hear the flapping of wings ahead of them, but saw nothing. Vahn, too, heard the sound, and trading looks, they advanced cautiously. Following the curve of the outside wall, they were presented with a long, empty hallway that they chose to move through. Poking around the corner, they found what appeared to be a recently inhabited section of the tower.
Xarrai found what appeared to be a table full of alchemy supplies, tools, and notes. Itching to grab the parchments, he held back at a warning from the others.
A kitchen area with various food implements bubbling away were present, as well as unspoiled food on the table, an ever-burning fuel-less hearth beyond.To their left stood a pair of armored suits, similar to those they fought before, facing away into a darkened room that their sight could not penetrate. Leaving the suits unmolested, they pressed further. Doing so, the mysterious voice called out to them again, telling them that they must speak a word to the suits that they might unlock the door he was behind. Not trusting the voice, they pressed on, finding more home-like features, including a well-stocked bar with a marble pillar set behind it, supporting a purple pillow. One of them remarked that it looked like a familiar’s perch.
They continued to explore, finding a library full of books, and tables covered in maps. The bookshelves were labelled, containing histories, books of magical experiments, and one shelf that shifted depending on who looked at it. It showed Asade a collection of bestiaries of little-known creatures. Ke’shin saw works on a variety of gods, some of whom he’d attempted to track down in the past. Vahn…Vahn first saw a collection of names, with a crossed out skull. Confused, he related this to the group, and looked back, seeing it was now blank. They surmised that it was designed to temp the watcher with something they desired.
Vahn summed up their collective thoughts, “It would appear that there are doors we shouldn’t open, books we shouldn’t read, food we shouldn’t eat and tools we shouldn’t use. Shall we press on, then?”
Asade continued to hear the sound of flapping wings, just behind them, now, as they continued to move on. Done with the mystery, she turned about, pinpointed the sound to the best of her ability, and cast Faerie Fire, revealing a small, winged, humanoid shape, which gave a
squawk of dismay. It retreated to the top of the bar, where it protested that it was not an enemy, but a friend, the familiar of the archmage. “Fwar is a steam mephit! Fwar only wishes to help you! But Fwar cannot!”
Apparently, though wanting to be helpful, each time they asked specific questions on how to find the archmage or what dangers there were, the mephit babbled. “Purple peonies provide painfully proportionate pimples!” he screamed in frustration. Vahn in particular found the fiends troubles amusing, and continued to ask him questions. Finally, he asked if the mephit would lead the way, and point out any dangers that could harm it. Fwar agreed.
The group followed the mephit to a large, iron and brass vault door. On this door were eight engraved circles, and nine inscribed lines of text in a variety of languages; some intelligible to the group, and some not.
1. Read and follow these instructions to pass (in common)
2. Use flame to disable the first lock (fiendish)
3. Use ice to bypass the first trap (elven)
4. (dwarven text)
5. Use strength to smash the second trap (giantish)
6. (unknown elvish script)
7. Destroy the final trap with dark fire (abyssal)
8. Unlock the last lock with the divine (Celestial)
9. (completely unidentifiable language)
The final line was written in much smaller text, containing a greater number of characters, but maintaining the same length as the others.
Frustrated by his inability to understand EVERYTHING, Ke’shin cast ‘Comprehend Languages’ and touched the door, reading the lines.
The ninth line sorted itself into readable text, and Ke’shin laughed.
“Ha! I KNEW that creating a language out of thin air was worthwhile! Congratulations on parsing it. Skip steps 1 through 8, shake hands with the two guards and knock 3 times to enter.”
Ke’shin did so, and the portal yawned open.
Entering the next room, leaving some distance between them and the mephit ahead, they found a large circular fountain, and a stone statue of a lady, holding out a hand, palm up.
“Haha! That stupid necromancer never got into this room!” cried the mephit triumphantly. Vahn instantly shifted his attention to the small fiend, interrogating him as to “what necromancer?”
The group learned that a necromancer…whose name the mephit could not quite recall, arrived some time earlier. The mephit attempted to employ his help in retrieving the archmage, but the visitor was more interested in looting the tower, even going so far as to try attacking the mephit.
“I hid myself good I did! No stupid faerie fire from this man, no sir! Can you figure this room out and free my master already, please?”
Investigating the statue, the group found a small plaque reading “The beauty of pressure.” Recognizing the simple style of riddle for what it was, and recalling their entry to the first floor of the tower, the group immediately cast about their supplies, searching for a gem of some sort. Finding none, Xarrai prestidigitated a key, wondering if it would once again prove the answer.
“Can’t you just make a diamond appear instead?” asked Asade, pointedly. With some chagrin, Xarrai did so, placing it in the hand, which immediately clamped shut on the stone.
The pool of water immediately began go glow with a soft, brilliant light blue, and the mephit cackled gleefully and dove down into it.
Looking around at each other, Xarrai shrugged, and hopped in. They watched him sink, until he passed from sight. Inside the water, Xarrai was unable to breath…nor did he feel the need to. The water did not feel wet…simply cold, as though a layer of something was between him and the liquid. Above, each of his companions also chose to follow, slowly sinking and disappearing in turn.
Beneath them, they each saw a purple, circular glyph that the floated down toward, and upon landing, were no longer encased in the column of water. The room they found themselves in was rather bare; a stone spiral staircase leading up directly in front of them, flashes of blue and purle light crackling throughout the room, and what appeared to be a freestanding room set with a single, vault-like door to their left.
Choosing to explore the stairs first, they found a short hallway at the top, with a series of four trap doors in the ceiling, and a ladder by each. After a brief discussion on whether these were more traps, rooms the archmage might be in, or doors leading to the four rooms they’d found above with the stranged, sealed doors…the cautiously returned downstairs. Exploring behind the staircase they found a massive gem set into the floor, surrounded by four machines spouting lightning between them.
The machines were large, iron and bronze, copper, gold, silver and brass. Cogs whirred, gears twirled and slender wires dipped and moved in random patterns. At the top of each a wheel that looked nearly like a weather-vane was encased in glass, or crystal, and wobbled and turn crazily, apparently the source of the lightning, forming a solid barrier around the thirty foot high diamond-like crystal in the center.
Scattered on the floor surrounding these devices were four suits of armor, each similar to those they had battled and discovered on the floor above.
Journeying to the northern face of the crystal, Asade peered into its depths, and was surprised to find a face in the flickering light. Calling to Xarrai, she showed him, and in the next flash of lightning, they saw it as well.
Ke’shin, Faelar and Vahn went to inspect the suits of armor. While holding one of the vambraces, still attached to a glove, Ke’shin discovered a strange hinge on the index finger. Pushing it back revealed an intricately worked key inside the digit. Calling out the information to the others, Asade took the initiative to inspect the machines, and found an inscribed circle, similar to those on the doors above, and on intuition, pressed it. It clicked smoothly back, and slid to the side, revealing a keyhole.
Fitting one of the key-fingers into it caused a purple glow to emanate from the top of the machine and arc to the top of the crystal. The scattered pieces of armor nearby also began to glow, and the group watched in awe as the suit began to reassemble itself from the ground up, then began to walk toward Asade.
Backing away slowly, Asade watched as the construct clanked over to its arm, and bent over, reattaching, and then twisting, causing the glow to intensify. The party grabbed other arms and similarly fitted them to the machines, until each had a suit of armor bent over it, and a white, black and green glow had joined the purple.
As the final beam of energy arced to the crystal, they combined into a stunningly bright yellow glow and began to circle the crystal, chipping away at it and causing pieces to explode away, ground to dust and diamond chips. The energy circled faster, and faster, eventually revealing the form of a beautiful young woman within, hand clasping a staff.
As the last of the enormous crystal was finally decimated, the woman’s form fell limply to the ground. Rushing over, Vahn supplied her with some healing, and she awoke with a gasp. Her dark hair framed a tanned face set with brilliant silvery-white eyes, veins of a similar color extending beneath her eyes to her cheekbones, beneath the skin.
She introduced herself as Archmage Elenia Fyzkik, and thanked them for rescuing her from her own stupidity. She explained that she had been attempting to infuse her life-force with the lasting essence of a diamond, seeking a version of immortality that did not require a trip to the realm of undeath. She failed, instead managing to encase herself in the crystal, and as she expended her magics to keep herself alive, she began to draw power from her tower and constructs to make up the difference, causing them to act strangely.
Neglecting to mention her true age but claiming to have lived for centuries, she asked after a master of the College Arcana who had died decades ago. When offered a drink of water, she cast a scathing glare and asked to be carried to the bar. When given a goodberry, she saved it for what she called a ’Druid’s Cocktail.’ Attempting and failing to charm Vahn, he nonethess picked her up and carried her to the bar upstairs, where she began to inquire as to what rewards she could give them. On their way to the watery portal she pointedly asked Asade to go into her room, unlocking it using any of the finger-keys, and to bring her a small chest that might hold suitable treasures. As she and Vahn disappeared, Asade stomped over to the room, and once inside found a large chest…and a HUGE chest. Noticing a strange animal-skin rug on the floor as well, large, bearlike, and covered in scales, she grabbed it, and the smaller of the two chests (adding them to the bag of diamond dust she’d collected earlier), and heaved them back to the portal.
Upstairs, Asade demanded to know what sort of animal the rug had come from, and Elenia was surprised to learn that no one in the party knew of the jungles of Shalovar. “Perhaps no one travels so far into the Char, anymore,” Elenia said off-handedly, and informed Asade that the rug came from one of the great lizards of that realm. Finding the strength to stand, aided by a glass of liquor and a goodberry that Fwar threw together, she cast the rug over her shoulders like a cloak, and abruptly an enormous, two-legged, long-tailed, small-armed, many-toothed scaly monster was before them, letting loose a primal scream.
“That. I want to try that out for a few minutes. That’s what I want.” As Elenia reappeared before them with a chuckle, she handed the rug/cloak to Asade and told her to go play with any suits of armor she could find; they’d repair themselves.
As the great-lizard stomped off the group heard the iron shriek of torn metal and gleeful roars.
Xarrai mentioned the alchemical table they’d passed coming in, and described some of his troubles with his own brews. Elenia gifted him with a book of alchemy, and some pointers that might come in handy in the future.
Looking at the group, she frowned slightly, looking at Vahn, and noted that he did not carry a magical weapon.
“Return below, and look beneath the bronze floorplate where the crystal once stood. The item you find there is yours. It should…modify, anything you place it one. Weapon. Armor. Tool. I am done with it; it didn’t quite serve the purpose I desired. But the results you produce with it could be…very effective.”
Returning downstairs with Ke’shin, Vahn flipped the large floorstone, plated in bronze, and found a strange contraption clinging beneath. Composed almost entirely of interlocking gears, he stared at it’s constant movement. Ke’shin was quite taken with the fact that no matter how closely he looked, the gears appeared to become smaller, and smaller as his gaze traveled toward its center, continuing to interlock, and spin, with no end.
While there, Ke’shin shared a story with Vahn that, back at the College Arcanum, during his studies in their deep libraries, he’d come across a sheet of paper that pointed toward a lost weapon of Hoar, somewhere in the swamps southwest of Uruk plains. Giving Vahn the command word to his notebook, he gave Vahn a copy of the notes he’d created.
Returning above, they heard the mephit regaling his mistress with tales of his loyalty, even in the face of the necromancer. Elenia’s head whipped about with this comment, and she began a long litany of names, until settling on “Prulekai” to the mephit’s shrieks of “Yes, that was it! He came and he tried to steal and find you and he even summoned that big brute of a shadow demon to ask it stuff when he couldn’t find me!”
Swearing, she looked to the adventurers, asking if they’d be interested in performing a further service to her. Vahn stepped forward, and asked if she had been wronged by this man, his manner deadly serious.
“Of course! Your pendant! Of course. Would you care to take revenge for me?”
Vahn appeared to restrain himself, and instructed her to request the aid of Hoar in this matter, should she be wronged. Smile faltering, she looked to him with utter gravitas, and in giantish, called down the righteous fury of Hoar upon the enemies who had wronged her so. Smiling, Vahn swore Uventod on Prulekai, a tension the others hadn’t recognized lifting from his shoulders.
“Step one, please remove this demon from my home; I’m weak as a kitten right now, and just as cuddly. Do so, and return to me, and we can discuss how to find this…Prulekai.”