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    Canonfire :: View topic - The Ghost Tower of Inverness
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    The Ghost Tower of Inverness
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
    Posts: 652


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    Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:33 am  
    The Ghost Tower of Inverness

    Cast of Characters:

    Berenn: Half-elf Priest of St. Cuthbert /Ranger
    Elrae: Human Bard
    Emyn: Human Paladin of Trithereon
    Hepla: Human Mage
    Isilme: Dark elf Bladesinger/Song Mage/Priestess of Eilistraee
    Noot: Human Thief
    Rakk: Half stone giant Fighter
    Thorgrim: Dwarven Cleric/Fighter
    Vaddarra: Snow Elf Peakwarden/Wizard-Anagakok

    Waterday, 12th of Ready'reat (581)

    OK, you are starting your journey from Verbobonc. You will be leaving on a ship, The Gargoyle, which plies the Velverdyva often. It makes stops at all the major river towns in Furyondy and Veluna, as far as Whitehale, at the meeting of the Velverdyva and the Fals River. It's a two day trip to Dyvers, with no expected troubles.

    It's a cold day (20/50: that's the low and high, so you know!). At least it's clear though, with no real sign of storms.

    [Rest of the story will follow....]
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2529
    From: LG Dyvers

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    Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:09 am  

    Nine! characters makes a very powerful party. Smile I see they have as many as five PCs that can cast healing magics, though none of them are single-class clerics so the power to raise the dead will likely not come any time soon. Still, so much healing power spread out among a large number of PCs is a very helpful quality for the party.

    They have almost as many arcane spellcasters. They have a couple of tanks and some back-up fighters, plus a single-class thief/rogue. Overall, it seems like an ideal party make up. Happy

    SirXaris
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
    Posts: 652


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    Wed Sep 03, 2014 4:46 pm  

    It is very tough. Going into this adventure, I believe they are about 8-9th level.

    They have excellent armor (thanks to slaying the Green Dragon Caustichlorinus). They have very high hit points, especially Rakk. Rakk was an old-school character that the player used back in Gygax and Arneson's actual campaigns. I had to seriously downgrade his power to fit my campaign, but since I was using 2nd ed, I used the half-giant race rules from Dark Sun, which seemed appropriate. He's pretty tough with a 20 strength and I think 150 hit points, or so!

    Yes, they are a very powerful group, which is why I try to limit their magic. I also have to bump up many encounters, using 3rd ed versions of many monsters to challenge them. It's demanding to deal with such a large, powerful, and versatile group, but it also allows the campaign to often take on more epic qualities.

    Anyway, I hope everyone likes to read these half as much as we enjoyed playing them!
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 13, 2013
    Posts: 12


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    Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:28 pm  

    Don't worry, we get screwed pretty bad in this adventure by a monster that permanently rapes us of most of our CON bonuses. We're much weaker now.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2013
    Posts: 325
    From: Minnesota

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    Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:56 pm  

    I, for one, am a fan of your adventures.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
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    Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:25 pm  

    Goldie wrote:
    Don't worry, we get screwed pretty bad in this adventure by a monster that permanently rapes us of most of our CON bonuses. We're much weaker now.


    Actually, that creature come from the Lost City of the Suel in the Suss Forest. You know, if you're going to go down into the lost undercity, you really shouldn't have continual light spells. It's like holding a neon sign that says, "Hey! Nasty beasties and dead things! Fresh meat here!!!"
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:11 am  
    Part 1 - Sailing

    Vaddara is in a better than average mood with cool weather moving in. She uses her boating skills to help while on board the Gargoyle. Noot helps too, and the captain, a young half-elf named Calon, though unsure of the rest of these "landlubbers", is pretty impressed with Noot!

    Depending on the length of the journey Hepla will spend most of the time teaching spells or reading one of her books. "I think it is a 5 day boat ride, yes?" she asks.

    The captain eyes her with a smile. "Maybe to Dyvers!" he laughs. "It's probably about a 2 week trip to the Free City of Greyhawk, and another day or two to Hardby.. Basically two to three weeks to get where you need to go."

    When the boat gets under way, Thorgrim gives a mighty blast from his new horn. "Well, it's not the Horn of Iggwilv, but it works," he says.

    Rakk will move to the middle of the boat and clean his equipment. He doesn't like water and this isn't helping.

    "Maybe I can cheer you up," says Elrae. When the boat sets sail Elrae tunes his cittern and sings a few sea faring songs.

    Whiskey-o, Johny-o
    Rise her up from down below
    Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
    Up aloft this yard must go
    John rise her up from down below

    Now whiskey is the life of man
    Always was since the world began

    Now whiskey gave me a broken nose
    And whiskey made me pawn me clothes

    Now whiskey is the life of man
    Whiskey from that old tin can

    I thought I heard the first mate say
    I treats me crew in a decent way

    A glass of whiskey all around
    And a bottle full for the shanty man


    Everyone applauds except the dour Berenn, who rolls over and tries to catch up on some sleep. Rakk smiles, but he obviously is still not feeling good about the boat.

    Earthday, 13 Ready'reat (581)
    [DM OOC: Nice to hear some tunes from our bard again!]

    The journey to Dyvers is pretty uneventful. It takes two days, with the weather staying pretty decent, except for a period of heavy rain your second day. The captain lets you below so you don't get wet (unless you have magic to aid you), but either way you make it to Dyvers on the afternoon of Earthday the 13th. Throughout the journey, you become decent friends with the half-elf captain. His craft just isn't quite equipped for a journey along the Nyr Dyv, but he is happy to assist you in finding another ship. With his connections, you find a merchantman heading that way, which leaves first thing in the morning. With many thanks to Captain Calon, you bit farewell to The Gargoyle and make your way along the wharfs to your next ship, The Dirty Greed.


    Port of Dyvers

    Hepla and Berenn thank the captain of the Gargoyle and looks forward to the next trip. Thorgrim checks to make sure he has all his equipment. "He seemed decent," he says, "though I'm always wary of referrals."

    Starday, 15 Ready'reat (581)
    The journey to the Free City of Greyhawk is quite uneventful. You leave the morning of Freeday the 14th, and with good winds, it takes only two days to reach the Selintan River. With its tributaries the Ery and Neen, it is a complex of small rivers leading from and below the Nyr Dyv. A relatively broad and deep- channeled outlet of the western Nyr Dyv, it flows past Greyhawk City into Woolly Bay, and is plied by considerable traffic. Crafts of many types ply this river, and the going is fast, but hectic, with the crew forced to be especially watchful of other ships. Again you marvel at the Selintan Gorge, and the remarkable Stonebridge, spanning the narrowest point of the gorge where it is only 100 paces across. The bridge, almost 800' above you, inspires awe in Thorgrim. He smiles as you pass under it and continue on your journey down the busy waterway, arriving in the Free City about midday on Starday the 15th.


    Dyvers/Wooly Bay area

    Thorgrim is second off the boat behind Rakk who as always cannot wait to set foot on land again. He stretches his limbs for walking. "Do we have business here in the City? Ladies? Perhaps we should seek Tenser's counsel regarding Pyaray."

    "We know he likes to be at the theater so we can check if it is open tonight," says Hepla. "Otherwise we can check at the library for information on Pyaray and the diamond scorpion."

    "Greyhawk also has the magic shop that has all the potions," offers Noot. "If we have the time that would be a shop worth going to."

    Agreeing, the girls head off to purchase some potions from the Guild of Wizardry. Isilme goes to the library to do some research.

    Emyn leaves. "I have some personal things to take care of," he says.

    "Don't tarry long," Thorgrim warns. "We need to save your soul from an eternity in the Chaos Fleet." He asks Noot to secure us passage on a ship to Hardby, leaving on the morrow, and asks Isilme if she would like to join him in meeting or getting a message to Tenser. Asking around, they hear that Tenser has been absent from the city for months. Having no other business in town, this is his only activity.

    Rakk flips a silver piece to one of the young beggers hanging around. "Tell Diarmid Rakk is in town and would like to speak with him as soon as convenient for him. Don't tell me you don't know who I'm talking about!"

    Rakk moves to the Gate to the City. (Assuming it is the same gate guard commander assigned before),"Ho, Celimbrum, do you still pull to the left with your crossbow? Need another training session?" He has his paper ready. These grant him the right to bear his swords and crossbow openly.

    Celimbrum is still there, and he greets Rakk warmly. "It's been a while, my friend," he says, clasping Rakk's hand. The party enters the city and make its way to the Green Dragon, where they stayed before as well. After settling in, everyone can split up to run their separate errands.

    Noot stays for a bit in the River Quarter, seeking a ship to sail south to Hardby. Everyone else heads to the Green Dragon Inn, as previously described. There you get a good meal and a room, while the mages head to the library. They head north into the nicer part of the city, towards the Great Library.


    Adventurers seeking knowledge at the Great Library, as depicted in Living Greyhawk Journal #4 (2001). Art by Matthew Mitchell.

    The Great Liibrary of Greyhawk, located in the Free City of Greyhawk, is one of the largest and most-celebrated libraries in the Flanaess. The Great Library's collection is one of the finest and most complete in the Flanaess, rivaled only by two others: Celene's Nethalion Archive in Enstad, and Nyrond's Royal Annals of Rel Mord. The Great Library of Greyhawk's facade is an impressive granite structure, featuring statuary and tall columns. Its massive double doors are reached via three wide stairs facing the Processional. However, this grandiose exterior masks a drafty, dusty, crumbling mess resulting from years of inattention. The desk of the head librarian sits on a raised platform inside the entrance, where Gratius Saghast can usually be found during business hours.

    Flanking the entry hall, three on a side, stand the six wings of the Great Library, each entered through an open arch. The library's innumerable books, papers, and scrolls cover countless subjects, and are loosely organized in accordance with the building's six wings: Artistic Studies, Geography, History, Poetry and Literature, Science and Engineering, and General (a catch-all for everything not covered by the other five categories).

    Each wing of the Great Library consists of little more than one massive room containing thousands of monographs arranged on shelves stretching from floor to ceiling. The higher shelves are reached via rickety ladders. Tables and chairs are located at each wing's center, with one or more assistant librarians nearby to aid in deciphering the library's notoriously puzzling cataloging system. When not helping (or shushing) patrons, the librarians research and produce works of their own, copies of which enter the library's collection on completion.

    The Great Library of Greyhawk is open daily, from dawn to dusk. Admission is free, but only "Contributing Members" (those who donate at least 100 gp yearly) may borrow items, and then no more than three at a time for no longer than one week. Others patrons must perform their research on-site.

    A strict code of silence is enforced by the librarians, and weapons and armor are strictly forbidden. Those defacing library property are subject to a mandatory length of service in one of Greyhawk's more toilsome workgangs.

    You find nothing in the Great Library about the crystal scorpion. For such a thing, you'd have to go to the Mage's Guild. However, you are able to find information about the Ghost Tower of Inverness and Galap Dreidel.

    The Ghost Tower of Inverness

    Know you that in the elder days before the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire, when the ancient peaks of the Abbor-Alz still thrust skyward sharp and majestic and the Flan tribesmen were but newcomers to the land, there existed between the Bright Desert and the mouth of the river Selintan a great fortress called Inverness. The walls of this castle were said to be proof against enemies and all things magical or natural. Know you also that here was said to dwell the great wizard Galap-Dreidel at the height of his power and glory, and that he did lift the Castle Inverness from the very foundation of rock upon which it rested.

    Most grand and terrible of all Galap-Dreidel's work was the keep's great inner tower; for it was there that the wizard's most prized possession, an eldritch jewel known only as the "Soul-Gem", was said to rest. Legend says that it was like a great white diamond and that it glowed with the brilliance of the sun. In years long past it had fallen from the sky and landed in the foothills of Abbor-Alz where Galap-Dreidel discovered it as it lay in the fires of its glory. Through magicks most arcane and knowledge forbidden to mortal men he did bend its power and shape the stone to his will. Stories say that the light of the gem dragged the souls of men screaming from their mortal flesh and trapped them within its many facets. Galap-Dreidel, it was said, harnessed this power and used it against those who opposed his will. They also say that he who controlled the gem could call forth the stolen souls of men and make them do his bidding.

    For the stone Galap-Dreidel raised up the great central tower and filled his castle with many horrible creatures and deadly traps and, using a great incantation, he did wrest the tower from the very fabric of time and set it apart so that those within would not be affected by the passage of years. Thus it was that his traps never faltered nor did his guardians age or need food. Townsfolk whispered that Galap-Dreidel would, at times, set a prisoner free in the tower merely for the sport of his beasts. Some legends tell that his power was so great that he even taught the gem to protect itself from those who would take it from him.

    But despite his great power there came a time that Galap-Dreidel did leave on a journey northwest, over the river Selintan, and did not return. At this time there came a great multitude of superstitious peoples from surrounding lands who laid siege to the castle and threw down the great tower. And it came to pass that despite this seeming victory over their feared former master the people did shun the area and it was said that on fog-shrouded nights the great central tower of the Fortress Inverness could still be seen.

    After thanking the librarian for help, they go to the Wizard's Guild, but by the time you get there it's closed. You'll have to return in the morning.

    Sunday, 16 Ready'reat (581)
    You awake the next day to a miserable morning. It's cold and raining heavily. A good meal beside the hearth warms your belly's, but nobody cares overly much about going outside. Noot is downstairs eating, and he tells you that there is a ship leaving for Hardby that morning. You have only an hour or so before it sails down the Selilntan, probably not enough time to do any research on the diamond scorpion.

    You go down to the docks, and there find your ship, The Heroine's Luck. The captain, Israer Rynlye, is an amiable fellow. Noot is pretty sure his name in Rhennee, so he warns everyone to keep an eye on their valuables. The Rhennee live nearly exclusively in a seaborne culture upon barges that hold individual families. Rhennee are often distrusted by many people and are thought of as thieves and worse. They are basically waterborne gypsies.

    Emyn will present Hepla with three packages which he bought in the city. He tells her, "The blue one is for your grandmother, the red for your mother and the black one for you. They should be opened on our wedding night."

    She accepts the packages and gives you an enthusiastic kiss. "Thank you dear, I will keep them safe until the wedding." A tear forms in her eyes, and in a slightly choked voice she says, "You are too good to me." Then she runs to her cabin.

    Thorgrim's spirits are unusually high on this stage of the journey. Before boarding, he puts everything into his Portable Hole except for what he wears: pick and dagger, Ring of Water-Walking, and his clothing. "I am pleased to be progressing on the penultimate leg of our journey," he says. "Before entering the Celene, I had sent an envoy to Lady Huerta inquiring about our mine stake, with orders to thence travel post-haste to Hommlet with the news. He should be arriving at our home about now," he chuckles.

    As the party boards and gets ready to leave, Isilme tells them she's not going. "I will catch up and stay in town to gather information," she adds.

    [DM OOC: I'll just note what she eventually finds out!]

    The Ghost Tower rises from an ancient castle, said to have been there even before Galap-Dreidel arrived. It is said to appear on foggy days, quite rare in the area. Some have argued that the tower's appearances, if at all, may actually be linked to celestial or lunar events, but there is no evidence that you can find to support this. Galap-Dreidel himself was once an archmage of boundless power. he supposedly crafted the fabled Soul Gem from a meteorite to vanquish his enemies and expand his power over temporal mechanics. He extended his knowledge of planar enchantments and boundless energies by studying the limitless potentials of living souls (some would say incarnum). Scholars of ancient legend say his desire to covet the meteorite stone for himself was instrumental to his unrecorded demise.

    Finally, you learn nothing about Pyaray. Nobody seems to have ever heard the name.

    Isilme also found the following information elsewhere:

    Six hundred years ago, the Dardel family stood as one of the richest and most powerful clans in all of Hardby's southeastern frontier. They dealt in cattle, horses, and land, and seemed to have no end to their wealth and luck. Of course, the Dardels had a secret to their luck: A talent for magic and divination ran through the family's bloodline, affecting one or two children each generation. These special youth were singled out by the family and taught the fine arts of magic and the shrewd skills of trade and negotiation.

    Becoming wizards, priests, or diviners, they underwent extensive training concealed from prying eyes. Usually, promising students were sent away to study, but occasionally mage instructors were hired to tutor the young adepts at home. Education in the crafty arts of trading, finance, and sales fell within the province of the family patriarch. As the years passed, the Dardels grew in power, money, and land holdings. They built their first family manor in Hardby and helped to finance the growth of that city. They also expanded their holdings in both Greyhawk and Orz.

    In the year that the Landgraf of Greyhawk married the Gynarch of Hardby, Tregas Dardel decided that his family would be better suited elsewhere and began new construction to the south. He situated the castle miles to the south, on the site of the supposed Ghost Tower, using that dreaded legend to attract travelers from miles around. He also hoped to follow up on leads regarding great treasure to be found in the hills surrounding the area, as well as the possibility of opening trade with nomads from the Bright Desert. None of that was realized, as Tregas died in 2 CY, just after moving his family into the castle itself.

    Records of the Aerdy Legion which was posted in the burgeoning town of Greyhawk, revealed an expedition to Castle Inverness in 133 CY. Merchants turned the ruling Aerdy governer against the Dardels. The legions of the Overking had annexed the area of the Selintan in 4 CY, nearly 100 years earlier, and laid claim to all the lands to the south. Using forged documents and false testimony, the Dardel enemies purported to show that House Dardel used magic, charms, and curses to gain the advantage over their trading partners and even to cheat the Aerdy crown.

    However, the family soon faced even more serious and devastating charges. Kartak Dardel, self-described as the "All-Seeing", was arrested at the castle and charged with kidnapping and killing 14 young men and women. Kartak was accused of "slaughtering the children of Hardby during unspeakable acts of evil, while executing heinous rites of necromantic magic". The soldiers arrived, surprised Kartak, and captured him. He was tried, convicted on all counts, and sentenced to hang. Repulsed by Kartak's actions, the rest of the family (cousins descended from his siblings) held a council in Hardby. They decided to abandon Castle Inverness as a liability they could no longer afford. After the council, the family's focus and money would shift away from the castle, some of it later being used to found the Dardel Inn on Coast Road in 151 CY. From that inn emerged the town of Orz.

    [DM OOC: That's pretty much all there is to learn in Greyhawk, so Isilme can continue on to Hardby.]

    The party meanwhile sailed down the river in a swift riverboat, shallow-bottomed but sturdy, and easily able to handle the narrow, fast-flowing water of the Selintan. The journey is about 200 miles, but with the current, it takes little time, maybe a day and a half.

    [DM OOC: Incidentally, and this is why I LOVE D&D. This voyage has led to my doing quite a bit of research into sailing times. I've certainly put in about 4-5 hours of work collecting data, checking it, etc.. How many games out there make you smarter? Not many!]

    A light rain falls most of the journey, turning to a thunderstorm around One Ford. Most boats put in there to wait out the storm, but the captain successfully navigates down the river without problems. The southerly winds will be ideal for his return trip, so he is anxious to reach Hardby as soon as possible. You reach Hardby around dusk on Earthday the 20th, after a day and a half journey.


    Hardby

    [DM OOC: I have altered some of the days, though it's not really a big deal. Depending on wind and such, and using my new-found knowledge of sailing and such. Basically, I ended up shaving two days off your journey, and I went and edited the posts. So, it's officially dusk on Moonday the 17th when you arrive in Hardby.]

    Moonday, 17th of Ready'reat (581)
    Hardby lies on the eastern shore of Hard Bay, an inlet of Woolly Bay which lies just east of the Selintan Headland which separates the bay from the mighty Selintan River. This busy sea port is the gateway between teh central Flanaess and the realms of the south. The dark-blue waters of the harbor are deep enough for ocean-going vessels to navigate, while the seacliffs on its southern and western shores ensure a sheltered anchorage. A pair of giant statues dipicting two brawling men dominates the entrance to the harbor. You hear the Gynarchs had them built to depict the violent and foolish nature of men; however, most men see things differently, showing their fierce and independent spirit.

    Your ship glides through the harbor and puts in at an empty place along the busy waterfront. A broad, cobbled quay runs the length of the waterfront, which is forested with the masts of merchantmen of many nations. The Dock District is a chaotic assembly of inns, taverns, and flophouses. A warren of boisterousness sprawls along the quay, and the narrow streets and fetid back-alleys are dangerous after dark. Luckily, patrols of the Watch are frequent, though drunken brawls are just as common.


    Hardby's Dock District

    Noot passes by a few of the more seedy inns, and eventually you settle on the Spotted Cow. It is well known in the District, and the city as a whole, as one of the best inn in Hardby. Standing on the waterfront at the south end of the docks and conspicuous for its bovine-shaped cowskin sign, the inn is always packed to the gunwales.

    Godsday, 18 Ready'reat (581)
    It is the day after you arrived in Hardby. There is only about half the normal activity, since this is a day of rest. It's cool in the morning, only about 50* when you wake up, but it gradually starts to warm up, and it looks to be a clear day. A good breeze blows from the West at about 10mph.

    When a few questions are floated about regarding Markessa, you get no information. If she came this way, nobody with whom you speak knows of her. As for odd goings on, nobody knows anything either. Seems things are pretty mellow in Hardby lately.

    "Would it be faster just to take a boat to the ghost tower rather than go overland?" asks Isilme, who rejoined the party overnight.

    "I suspect there is no good harbor there," says Rakk. "And the nearest town by sea is unlikely to have mounts."

    "The faster route would be sea," says Berenn, "but we need to be assured they can get us ashore near the tower, or it is pointless."

    Noot gives the party a quick lesson about navigating Wooly Bay.

    "Two slow currents circulate Woolly Bay, the Safeton Spin, flowing counter-clockwise in the northern third, and the Wild Current, traveling clockwise in the southern two-thirds of the bay. Ships sailing from Hardby to Safeton often ride the Safeton Spin, traveling along the Wild Coast from Hardby south past Carnakh and Palgaryn to Safeton and the ruins of Cantona. Ships from Safeton hug the coast to avoid the tug of the current up to the mouth of the Selintan and then to Hardby. Sailing against the Spin slows ships to 50%, but this can be overcome by traveling closer to the coast using sails or oars. Hardby ships heading for ports in Relmor Bay of the Azure Sea nearly always take the long leg of the Spin, cruising down the western coast and crossing the bay until they near Barren Point, a rocky peninsula of the Bright Desert about 160 miles south-southest of Hardby. Here, the ship must quickly cross the current to catch the top of the Wild Current, which will cary the ship east and south along the Bright Desert coast to the Sea of Gearnat.

    So, there isn't much traffic flowing clockwise around the northern part of the bay. Small coasters travel as far as Fishtown, but not much further, mainly because of the current. Traveling by land is the way to go. Least, this is what I think," finishes Noot.

    "We could," Thorgrim agrees, "Or we could check on Lady Huerta after our arrival at Stormkeep. I understand you wish to head there? Perhaps a mounted griffon patrol...it doesn't look far on this map. She may have information we could find useful. Or not."

    "From the map, and your comments, we could meet most or all of the points," says Rakk. "If this Lady Huerta is here, Thorgrim could talk to her while we acquire mounts. We ride to Orz, down the trail to Minaryn Castle, along Jedel Run to the mine. Head south thru the valley to the trade route and so to Storm Keep. From there we will have to go cross country to get to the Tower. Or we could try sailing to Zarak and walking back to the tower. Zarak is likely a ghost town, or bandit/pirate hold by now, tho."

    "I thought time was of the essence since we are already weeks behind," says Berenn.

    "We've no real choice in the matter, as the sea currents don't allow for easy travel," syas Emyn with a nod to Noot. "However, maybe we can at least get ferried across the river to that port on the eastern side of the estuary. That will save us from having to ride up to One Ford and then cross to come back down."

    "It would be very difficult to travel by sea," says Noot, "assuming we could even get a ship that would sail against the current, and if we went the long way by sea, it would probably take longer than a land journey. As much as I like to travel by ship, this journey is better by land. I think I will shop for a horse and tack."

    While you're in the inn asking questions, a scurvy sailor takes a hold of Hepla, spinning her around and placing her roughly on his knee. "I'll show you a Ghost Tower," he says, laughing through a mouth missing half its teeth. He then kisses her square on the lips!

    Thorgrim suppresses a chortle and looks at Emyn, then back at Hepla.

    As soon as she can pull away she slaps his face and gets off his knee. "You ask first mister. Mother always said 'a gentleman never takes but asks.' You are not a gentleman." She orders the strongest liquor swishes it in her mouth and spits it out wherever she can. She walks away but has Shocking Grasp ready if anyone touches her that she does not want touching her.

    Rakk waits 'til she is out of the way, then walks over to the sailor. He picks him up til they are face to face (which means the sailor is 2 feet in the air) and tells him,"You ever touch her or my other friends again, you will be missing the rest of your teeth." He then drops him, and waits.

    The sailor glances around, looking for aid from his friends, but they all turn away, back to their drinks or whatever, as if they don't know the man. Nobody wants a piece of Rakk!

    Emyn speaks to that sailor before they leave. "Look swabbie, you just messed up. You forced yourself on the betrothed of an Avenger of Trithereon, who also happens to be a witch. Her curse will haunt your days at sea for the rest of your miserable life, so I am not going to rain vengeance upon your head this time. The bad luck you brought upon yourself is vengeance enough."

    With nothing else to do in Hardby, the party buys horses and heads to Orz. You will make it there in less than a day, so you get to the town during the daylight. Orz is a small but prosperous fishing town, along the East coast of Woolly Bay. As you learned in Greyhawk, it grew to prominence after the Dardel family abandoned Castle Inverness and settle there, opening the Dardel Inn there along the Coast Road. You spot the inn quickly as you ride into town, a very large establishment in the center of town.

    In Orz Hepla goes to Thorgrim and asks him to look over the building for the oldest parts. When she checks in she asks if they have any reading material especially an old history of the area or of the inn.

    "Huh?" Thorgrim asks, perplexed. "To what end?"

    "This inn was built by the family that had the tower," she says. "Perhaps they left some record, murals, clues in the original construction that will help us."

    "OK, I'll check it out," he says.

    "Thank you Thorgim," she replies, giving him a kiss on the cheek that turns his face red.

    [DM OOC: Indeed, the party DOES learn more while at the inn.

    Additional info from the Dardel Inn innkeeper:

    "Tregas died in 2 CY, just after moving his family into the castle itself; he was succeeded by his bastard son, the half-elf Farkas Dardel. For the next 35 years, Castle Inverness was a renowned and favorite stopping place for caravans, ships, and wealthy travelers. Farkas's hospitality was second to none. He regularly held events to amuse weary travelers: juggling exhibitions, theatrical performances, games of chance, and once even an entire circus. The fortunes of the family continued to climb, and lives as country gentlemen suited most of the family. But the idyllic, pastoral lifestyle of the Dardels did not last."

    You heard the tale of Kartak, so he moves on. "Though abandoned for some time, the castle was the Dardel home, and in time it drew the last remaining Dardel's back to it. Kaisha, her son, Chardath, and a deaf-mute daughter she never named. The Gynarch of Hardby, feeling great pity for the family's downfall, gave her blessing and entitled Kaisha as Baroness of Inverness. However, without the Dardel money, the castle's entertainments never returned. Kaisha and Chardath eked out a simple life until Kaisha died of natural causes 200 CY.

    Chardath became Lord of Castle Inverness. His nameless, silent sister, meanwhile, had grown into a beautiful if speechless woman locked away on the top floor of the castle. Chardath called her "Marble" because of her pale skin, raven hair, and inability to speak. Most of Chardath's acquaintances were unaware of her existence, and he kept it that way. Though he allowed Marble to move freely about the castle, her years of captivity had made her afraid of anyone but her brother. She stayed mainly in the family quarters on the new level, away from guests, though she took pleasure in visiting the rose garden every afternoon.

    Chardath respected her reclusive nature and protected her from discovery. She was the one bright spot in his life. From a young age, Chardath had resented the way their mother hid her away, refusing to acknowledge her existence as if doing so would reveal a flaw in Kaisha. When Chardath ascended as the new lord, he hoped the event presaged a new life for them both. It was not to be. All this time, Kartak was still alive. He had truly been a mage of great power, and had somehow escaped his death and been living in a secret refuge in the Abbor Alz. He fed his anger over the decades until it developed into a glowing hatred for the remaining Dardels. Kartak cursed the castle, the land, and the family of Dardel.

    Nobody knows what happened to Kartak. There are as many stories as those who tell them. One thing is certain; the family disappeared. None returned from Castle Inverness, and nobody who sought the place found anything but ruins. As for the Ghost Tower and the tales of Galap Dreidel and the Soul Gem, those seem more legend than fact."

    He even points out some Dardel portraits, still hanging on the walls of the common room.

    Thorgrim studies the portraits carefully, so that he may recognize their ghosts should he see them.


    Chardath Dardel

    Rakk orders up a round of drinks. "To not knowing when you're gonna die."
    Swallows the first in one go, and orders a second round.

    Emyn says, "I've been dead already. It's not all it is cracked up to be, trust me. But stout hearts and study shields will carry the day."

    "So have I," says Rakk. "but it hasn't taken yet. So until it does, we don't know when it's going to happen for a final time. Death walks besides everyone, just most people pretend otherwise. A toast to the company of today, for who knows what tomorrow holds!"
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:18 am  

    Sorry about the double post. I think I fixed it.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:37 am  
    Part 2 - On the Road Again

    Waterday, 19th of Ready'reat (581)
    You awake the next day to a cold, windy day. Clearly, winter is coming! It's a full day ride to the area of the mine, and there you find one of the Deldukr dwarves, Gomgnur Farkaek, has remained behind to assist Lady Huerta with the mining. They have also built a handful of shanties, while a larger house in the works.


    Area of the mining claim

    "Hoho! We've made it here after all!" says Thorgrim, suddenly much more cheerful.

    Hepla knows nothing about mining and is agog at what is being done. Thorgrim just smiles, then proceeds to see what has happened in his absence.

    He finds that the iron was not as prevalent as was once thought; however, Gomgnur seems even happier. "We've found tin," he says. "Lots of it!"

    [DM OOC: Tin is something not really mentioned in the other mining books, nor in the resources of the Greyhawk books. However, it is realistically a very valuable resource. Tin is a relatively rare element in the Earthís crust, with approximately 2 ppm (parts per million), compared to iron with 50,000 ppm. It's the key ingredient in making bronze. So, this mine could be far more valuable than they previously thought! Again, D&D is awesome for its ability to make us smarter!]

    "Good work Gomgnur," says Thorgrim, slapping him on the back. "Not quite what I was expecting, but better than nothing, certainly," Thorgrim replies. "Pray tell, where is the Lady Huerta? We have need to speak with her."

    You can meet up with Lady Huerta. She's organizing the whole thing, bringing in people to assist in the mining as well as the smelting, which apparently is the harder part. The tin deposits are either on or near the surface, very easy to access. It will not be long before a substantial flow is available. The iron deposits are good as well, and they are starting to build a large warehouse for storing and eventual transport.

    [DM OOC: Again, I'm not sure how much we want to get into the nuts and bolts of mining, especially since I really don't know much about it. However, things seem to be progressing quite well.]

    Elrae treats the workers to a song:

    We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through
    To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do
    It ain't no trick to get rich quick
    If you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick
    In a mine! In a mine! In a mine! In a mine!
    Where a million diamonds shine!
    We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn till night
    We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sight
    We dig up diamonds by the score
    A thousand rubies, sometimes more
    But we don't know what we dig 'em for
    We dig dig dig a-dig dig
    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho Heigh-ho
    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
    It's home from work we go
    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho Heigh-ho hum


    Again Berenn buries his head in his hands. Meanwhile, Thorgrim commends Lady Huerta on a job well-done. He asks if she's received his messenger, and asks about any news of the realm or any unusual happenings lately.

    Yes, she did. She's been working tirelessly to get things organized. She apparently learned a lot about business from her slaver husband in the Pomarj. Applying it here has been successful, and things are progressing well. Word has been sent out for help, but it's early winter and word travels slowly during this period.

    "Then we eat and pack it in for the night," says Thorgrim. During dinner or after, Thorgrim takes time to speak with several of the miners. About mining topics, and about any happenings in the area. There is no news of the area, except they are hard at work extracting both tin and iron. You spend the night there, before moving out in the morning.

    Lady Huerta shows you around. Most everyone is living in a small area of tents, while buildings are being built. Then the mining can start in earnest. There have been no troubles, as this out-of-the-way place really has no traffic. There is nothing but a small path running up the valley, and it is more for shepherds than anything else. A real road will have to be cut back towards Minaryn Castle and perhaps on to Storm Keep.

    Earthday, 20 Ready'reat (581)
    You awake in the middle of the night to a very violent thunderstorm which rages for most the night. The creeks becomes a raging torrent as the rainwater swells it. The small bridge is totally washed away, and the entire area becomes a muddy mess. The dawn comes, and the rains continue, though they've lessened somewhat. Still, the rain pours hard and continuously.

    "A good day to study," Hepla says, "can someone check to make sure everyone else is safe, please. Before we leave let us help them recover. A Stoneshape should get them a new bridge which will be even better and I'm sure there will be other things we can help with."

    Nobody can really do much work in the heavy rain, so the best you can do is hunker down and stay warm and dry. You can easily rebuild the bridge with a few Stoneshape spells. The storm rages for about 8 hours, so you've lost the better part of the day. You aren't sure if you can make it to Storm Keep with the remaining light, since there is now just an unknown muddy path ahead of you.

    Freeday, 21th of Ready'reat (581)
    The rains continue with heavy rains again overnight and into the next day. The rains finally stop around noon, though it remains cold and wet with light rain on and off. Lady Huerta and Gomgnur come to Thorgrim, seeking the blessings of the dwarven gods on their enterprise.

    Thorgrim gets out his battered holy symbol and raises an arm for the benediction:

    "O Clanggedin, O Moradin,
    Bless these people
    Who do your bidding here on Oerth.
    Let their wills be strong,
    And their backs.
    May their picks never break.
    May they bring forth great fruits from their labors,
    Which You provided so that those who seek, shall find,
    And then use these fruits to the betterment of your aims
    Here on Oerth.
    Amen."

    "Mount up!" Throgrim then calls. After saying goodbyes, the party heads out for Storm Keep. Elrae again begins to sing:

    On the road again -
    Just can't wait to get on the road again.
    The life I love is making music with my friends

    And I can't wait to get on the road again.
    On the road again

    Goin' places that I've never been.
    Seein' things that I may never see again

    And I can't wait to get on the road again.
    On the road again -
    Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
    We're the best of friends.
    Insisting that the world keep turning our way

    And our way
    is on the road again.
    Just can't wait to get on the road again.
    The life I love is makin' music with my friends

    And I can't wait to get on the road again.
    On the road again

    Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
    We're the best of friends

    Insisting that the world keep turning our way

    And our way
    is on the road again.
    Just can't wait to get on the road again.
    The life I love is makin' music with my friends

    And I can't wait to get on the road again.
    And I can't wait to get on the road again.


    Berenn wonders if he should have stayed home.

    After completing your various projects, like assisting with the rebuilding of the bridge, you get back on the road. The journey is relatively peaceful, and you find the path up along the valley pretty easy. There are very few trees in the area, mostly oaks, and you ride your horses peacefully along.

    [img]https://picasaweb.google.com/114210769103054751114/Hardby?authkey=Gv1sRgCKaS0dG13Y68ogE#slideshow/5919029583438405618[/img]
    Hardby Area with mining claim circled.

    The circled area is where the mine is located. You travel south, along the creek until it basically ends. Just shy of the road from Fishtown to Storm Keep, there is a low ridge running between the two groups of hills to your east and west. Once over that, you will join the Storm Road.

    You travel about two hours before reaching the main road, and another few hours finds you back at Storm Keep. The guards are alerted to your presence, probably by griffon patrols, and you see maybe a dozen manning the walls and towers of this small keep. There is a small village at the foot of the hill upon which it stands, and the people seem pretty much your normal peasant farmers, though maybe a bit hardier than most. The road actually goes through the village, continuing on, while a side track leads up to the keep. A patrol of a half-dozen mounted men-at-arms rides out of the keep and comes down the hill to greet you and learn the purpose of your travels. Their leader recognizes you from your stay last year, and greets you warmly.


    "Welcome again," says Carstane Geronten, second in command of the garrison. He's talking to those whom he knows, which means everyone who passed this way returning from the Pomarj. "I see you've brought friends," he adds, then looks up at Rakk. "Big ones."

    Hepla wants to go see the griffons, but she finds that she can't, not any more than she could just go see the warhorses. In fact, the men here are even MORE careful about the griffons. They learn that the Lord of the Keep has flown across the Abbor-Alz to Karistyne's Castle, to plan an expedition against the Skullgnasher tribe of Hill Giants which plague the area in between them. Rhuandyr Fallonis is in command of the Skyriders in his absence.

    "I am in charge of the Mountaineers," says Carstane proudly. "May I ask what business you have here?"

    "Yes, Berenn, what was your urgent business here?" asks Thorgrim as well.

    Thorgrim takes a few puffs of his pipe. "Mayhap some day I will have mastered all beasts of transport...maybe even dragons." He looks at Noot. "Though Noot here may have beaten me to the punch."

    "Actually," says Noot. "It was Gotrek that rode the dragon!"

    "Captan Carstane," says Hepla, interjecting. "Is that the right title? We are on a mission to destroy ancient evil, save a good man from death and worse. I am Hepla and this good man (indicating Emyn) is my fiancee. Is there any unusual activity out near the old Inverness Tower?"

    "Well," he says, looking at Hepla. "Can't say as there's anything down that way. The Skyriders make regular runs clear that way, near to old Zarak as well and the edge of the Bright Desert." He scratches his head, "can't recall 'em seeing anything lately."

    "Let's see your equipment then," Thorgrim says. When given the chance, he inspects Carstane's mountain-climbing gear. "I'm always interested in any advances in the science of Mountaineering."

    After Thorgrim talks to him, he laughs. "Oh, we isn't exactly mountaineers like that," he says. "Sure, every man jack of us can use a rope, climb, and all, but it's just, well, we're fit fer this kinda work. You know, rugged slopes, little food, tough foes, yeah, this is the life!"

    "Amen," says another man, coming out to see what's going on. By his vestments, he is a priest of St. Cuthbert.

    Hepla turns to the priest, bows her head a little, "St. Cuthbert, I like him...giggle...he was nice to me. You must meet the rest of our party. Have you heard of any strange things around Inverness? A great evil, we believe, is coming this way. Her name is Markessa. My name is Hepla."

    The men look to one another, obviously not having any knowledge of Markessa. However, Carstane then adds, "Do not forget Andeeyloplardii," he says. "The sphinx. A deadly foe which slew one of the Skyriders when challenged. This was but a few days ago, towards Inverness. We have since stayed away, until Rhuandyr returns."

    "Aye," says another man. "He'll burn the beast good he will!"

    "And yet," says the priest, "a sphinx may know many more things about Inverness than mere mortals. Should you accept her challenges. But be warned, they are as clever as they are dangerous."

    "Thank you, and who is Rhuandyr, and why will he burn the beast," asks Hepla.

    "Rhuandry is a great warrior mage," says one of the men.

    "He comes from the Celedon, on the edge of Urnst," says Carstane. "When he returns, he will seek out the beast and burn it out of whatever hole it claims."

    Berenn then starts to speak with the riders. He declares that he has come across a couple griffons, having saved them from captivity, and they now choose to live with him in the Watchlands. Thus, he is very much interested in anything that he can learn from the famed Skyriders of Storm Keep.

    Carstane nods and leads everyone into the keep. He looks at Hepla, who clearly had a serious interest in the griffons herself, and calls for the handler.

    While you wait, he explains, "Storm Keep boasts twelve mature adult griffons trained for flying, and four young that are currently being reared and trained. The remit of the griffon riders is to spy and map, to seek out uncontacted groups of demihumans and adventurers, and to identify powerful monsters (such as the Gnashingskulls giants or the sphinx) that may present a threat to the area. Neither the Skykriders nor Mountaineer Militia goes out looking for trouble, however."

    "Yeah," says one of the militia, tapping his head. "We uses our heads!"

    Carstane shakes his head, rolling his eyes as he glances at the obviously learned members of your group. "Well, he is right though. And we rule the skies which really helps most the time."

    Berenn will also learn if they have an armorer who can turn the dragon scales into griffon battle armor. He will also get as much information from the skyriders regarding how they utilize their griffons and if they have any saddles, bags and gear specifically designed for griffons.

    Emyn has no objection to speaking with the sphinx. He's actually quite intrigued by it, as he has never seen one.

    "Dear," says Hepla, "they ask riddles and kill you for the wrong answer."

    "He's already dead then," chides Berenn.

    Rakk will talk to the man about the dangers of the mountains, the gear one uses. He will laugh and say,"There is nothing like being in the mountains to make you feel alive!"

    Actually, Rakk and Thorgrim were both interested in the Mountaineers' gear. The men take you and show you their climbing gear, which you notice is all first-rate stuff. Everything is clean, well cared-for, and in perfect order. You can tell they take great pride, and they all whole-heartedly agree with Rakk. Of course, they mostly operate in hills, but these are rugged hills, with little to offer most men but death.

    "Well, least we'll only die once," says one of the men. "Most other men die many times each day."

    Berenn will also learn if they have an armorer who can turn the dragon scales into griffon battle armor. He will also get as much information from the skyriders regarding how they utilize their griffons and if they have any saddles, bags and gear specifically designed for griffons.

    Yes, you are brought to the armorer, Bevon Adlam. He is a master with leather and scale armor, both of which he has adapted to the griffons as best he can. They really do not like wearing anything, so he has taken a minimalist approach. However, he has come up with some excellent saddlebags and other gear. He is more than happy to show you what he makes.

    "When are you expecting Rhuandyr's return?" asks Thorgrim. "And will the Lord of Stormkeep launch his attack from Karistyne's Castle? Or return here to muster his forces?"

    "We could help," says Hepla, "long as it doesn't take too long."

    "No," says Thorgrim, "we've our own mission." He looks at Isilme, "we've probably tarried too long as it is."

    Captain Carstane nods. "They just left about three days ago, so it'll probably be at least that many before they return. Nobody has any idea about what they may plan."

    Captain Carstane goes on to tell you about the Skullgnashers. "For more than a decade, the troops at Storm Keep have been engaged in continual battles with the Skullgnasher Tribe of hill giants. Their king, a certain Fedduk, is a bit of a genius, at least for a hill giant. He managed to unite the hill giant tribe of the Small Teeth into a loose federation of raiders under his personal standard. Once he enjoyed the advantage of knowing every inch of the Abbor-Alz as well as he knew his own scars. But after years of war, Major Olehm, the Storm Keep commander, has learned this terrain almost as well, and his troops have found and destroyed most of the giantsí hiding places in the nearest hills. Olehm and his forces are beginning to drive the giants back to the Small Teeth, a spur closer towards Castle Karistyne. Thus, they are looking to work together to perhaps finish off the giants once and for all."

    "Our only interest in that is: Will it interfere with our mission to the Tower?" asks Rakk. Unless you would like to aid them after we return."

    "Certainly we would accept the help of a band such as yourselves," says Carstane, "but you'd have to discuss that with Major Olehm."

    "Where's he?" asks Berenn.

    "Major Olehm flew off with half the Skyriders to Karistyne to see if we could coordinate a final strike at the giants and finish them off once and for all."

    "When we finish, perhaps we shall return then," says Thorgrim. "For now, rest and then we head out in the morning.

    The party beds down for the night, with Berenn talking to the griffon armorer, Bevon. He asks about making armor and equipment. Beven says you can't just put stuff on a griffon. It has to be fitted specifically. He actually offers to come himself, to take measurements and custom fit them. A couple other Skyriders also offer to teach Berenn their aerial tactics and such. They also could help you with specific training techniques.

    Berenn agrees, offering to pay for them to travel to the Watchlands. He then shows Bevon a sample of the lighter dragon scale/leather.

    When he sees the dragon scales, he is astounded. "I could work with this," he says emphatically!

    The agree to assist Berenn after winter, and Berenn leaves him the sample to work with in the mean time. "Seems this detour was well-made," says Berenn, as the party finally gets some rest.

    Hepla, after dinner, goes to the common room with her crystal ball and the two parts of Markessa's broken wand. She attempts to view Markessa. As always, she fails.

    "Let's just hope we get to the tower before she acquires the Soul Gem," says Thorgrim. Everyone thinks on that as they go to sleep, getting perhaps their last good night's rest before leaving this last bastion of civilization.....
    GreySage

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    Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:09 pm  

    Ha! The bard's songs are the best part! Razz

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    Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:58 pm  

    Yeah, I've always loved our bard!
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    Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:51 pm  
    Part 3 - The Arrival

    Sunday, 22 Ready'reat (581)
    A strong wind blows up from the south, bringing with it clouds and a light rain. Cold evening temperatures have left a layer of ice on nearly everything, with icicles hanging off every part of every building. After a quick breakfast, supplied by the Mountaineers themselves, the party start on its way. About an hour away the old road passes a large lake on the left, glittering icy blue in the cold morning. This is Storm Lake (see map), and you pause there for a rest, by a campsite along the lake, sheltered from the wind by a dense copse of trees. It is a very tranquil scene, with fish jumping abundantly in the lake and the songs of birds surrounding you.

    If it's not Hepla's watch she relaxes under a tree. This is like late fall where she grew up. She lightly sings a song taught ner by the forest elves of their forest. She then will look to gather root vegetables, nut and berries for dinner. Any strange herbs she will also gather. If there is still time Hepla will slip behind a bush and strip down to underware and run out to the lake a get in a nice swim. When it's time to get out she sees some of th guys watching her and giggles, casts Invisibity, goes back to the bush, uses Cantrips to dry off, dresses, cancels Invisibity and walks back. "Nice try guys but no free looks. Emyn I am sure would have protected my modesty ..giggle...right Emyn, dear."

    While the party rests, Elrae takes his cittern and plays another tune....

    Well, now, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at the fishin' hole.
    We may not get a bite all day, but don't you rush away.
    What a great place to rest your bones and mighty fine for skippin' stones.
    You'll feel fresh as a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade.
    Whether it's hot, whether it's cool, oh what a spot for whistlin' like a fool.


    [DM OOC: There actually followed a long digression about whether or not Hepla even HAS underwear, but I'll skip that! :) ]

    Emyn walks over to Hepla and says, "How was your swim?"

    "Invigorating," she says. "So, did you guys catch anything?"

    "caught what?" asks Emyn, as he was away tending the horses while all this was going on.

    Noot turns beat red, and the others turn away, trying to hide their smiles. The party gets their gear together, everyone having failed to catch any fish (if anyone even has any fishing gear, which I doubt). All except Vaddarra who pulls a stringer out of the water, hanging from which are about 18 fish. You all stare at her as she hangs it on the side of her horse, and she looks back. "What?"

    "I guess someone was paying attention to her fishing.", Hepla says.

    The party rides on through the day, the light rain continuing but gradually slackening. By mid afternoon you've reached the top of the hills, where you take another break. You can see to the SE that the hills descend sharply, the road winding back and forth a bit, before continuing along the floor of a wide valley. A small streams meanders through the valley, and it looks like it will be a good place to break for the evening. You reach it before dark, and notice the remains of an old wooden bridge, now rotted away except for the pilings. The road crosses the stream here, then begins to climb again into more hills. The ruins of old buildings dot the area, revealing that there once was a small village here, though all that remains are stone foundations and rock piles.

    "We have to eat and we might as well enjoy our supper," says Vaddara. "Hepla, you can cook fish right?"

    "Yes I can cook.". When they find a place to camp she will start a campfire. Get some of the root vegetables and starts them in the Ashes, gets out her copper pot, goes to Vaddara and says, "will you allow us to use your fish as our main course?" If she does Hepla cleans the fish and starts to fry the fish on the back side of her pot. "Soon dinner will be made. We are lacking only something better then water to drink."

    The party spends the evening inside the Daern's Instant Fortress, and though they are totally paranoid that something bad will happen, they have an uneventful sleep.

    Sunday, 23 Ready'reat (581)
    You wake up the next day, and it's a brisk clear morning. A light wind blows from the south, but the skies are once again clear. There's an old track which winds through the hills from here towards Inverness. The men of Storm Keep told you about it. When the party emerges from the most rocky terrain, after about 20 miles or so, they are standing on a hill looking south. The ground may be softer, but it is no less challenging. They can see for quite a distance, and what they see is nothing but hills. A small trail meanders from here in a generally southern direction. You travel another 10 miles...

    Standing in the middle of the barely visible path is a most unusual creature. The sleek lionís body is tense, as if it were about to spring, while its wings are outstretched. While the face is that of an attractive human female, it is drawn tightly. Clearly this beast has known her share of hardships. She does not appear to be overly friendly. A soft sound comes from her throat, something halfway between a growl and purr.



    Berenn will approach the creature. "Are you the sphinx we have heard rumors about during our travels? We would have you share your knowledge about the Tower of Inverness and if any other humanoids have passed your way in recent days."

    After thinking a moment, Thorgrim sheathes his pick. "Andeeyloplardii," He raises his hand, palm outwards. "You must pardon my friend. He sometimes lacks...diplomacy."

    She turns a head and looks down at Thorgrim, a smile crossing her face. "Ah, it's nice to see manners have not left you lesser races altogether." She looks over at Berenn for a moment, before continuing. "I have agreed to stay south of the valley," she says, "so why do you cross into my territory? Did the griffon-riders hire you to do what they could not?"

    Hepla in Feline says, "It is an honor to meet you. We are on a vital mission and hope we have not disturbed you." She bows deeply. Everyone is amazed at Hepla's ability to speak to the creature.

    "A vital mission, eh?" She smiles down at Hepla, "Well, wouldn't want to interfere with that now would we?"

    "It involves the life of my beloved," replies Hepla, "so I guess it is vital to him and I. I would not want to bother you with it. The griffon riders did not hire us and we did not know that south of the valley was your area." Again, she speaks all this the in the language of felines.

    "Do I look like a cat?" she roars, setting everyone back a step. She seems rather irritated, and she rises up onto her feet, her wings stretching out to about 20' wide.

    "I am sorry," replies Hepla, bowing low. "I had heard you were of that line but I have not met you before so I did not know. I beg your apology."

    "Let us stick with Common," Thorgrim says. "We are not working for the griffon-riders, nor do we represent them."

    "If the members of Storm Keep had hired us to kill you, we would not be having a discussion," adds Berenn icily. "As it is we are in need of any useful knowledge you may possess and would be will to bargain for it."

    Rakk, with the ballista still in the ready position, says,"We came here to inquire if you have knowledge we seek and if you would be willing to trade. If you are not, we will be on our way. We seek no quarrel with you, but will defend ourselves. How say you, wise one?"

    Hepla pulls a small chipped pink pearl and says, "I did not bring much in the way of gems with me, but we would like some information. If you are interested." She opens her other hand and a large rock crystal is there.

    Andeeyloplardii is very pleased by the turn of conversation and relaxes back on her haunches. She still seems wary, and you can tell her eyes miss nothing. When Vaddara casts a spell, she smiles at her knowingly. She then looks at Hepla's offering, but shrugs. She has little interest in such baubles. However, she will accept magical items in trade for information.

    She puts the gems away and takes out her wand of fear. "I cannot trade away things that relate to my god but this I can offer."

    Andeeyloplardii's eyes grow wide. She leans forward, "And what is this you offer?"

    "A wand. A wand of fear."

    "I already cause fear in those who meet me," she replies with a grin. "However, I accept your offer." She reaches out and takes the wand, then nods her head. "You may ask your question."

    "Thank you, for agreeing to answer my question." Hepla tells it(speaking freely)about the octopus god/thing and how it had a powerful gem that was stolen from it and that they think it is in the so called Ghost Tower of Inverness, and if they do not bring it back to the octopus thingie within a year her fiancťe will be doomed to serve on its fleet forever(she cries at this point) so her question is, "Is that gem in the tower?"

    She can barely follow Hepla's crying rambling, but she pieces together what she said. She doesn't know anything about any "octopus god/thing"; however, she does know that Galap-Dreidel did have a Soul Gem which matches the description. It certainly is in the tower.

    "Thank you, I will let others ask you questions and learn from your wisdom." Hepla bows and steps back.

    Andeeyloplardii is new to the region, having only recently moved into these hills from the southern reaches of the Bright Desert. However, she has lived many centuries and does have knowledge of the Ghost Tower. She tells you that it is, indeed, real, that the tower appears on various days, though the mechanism of such appearances are unclear. She suspects that the tower is fading from these realms, as various Fey domains have and are doing. However, she is not certain. Nobody who has successfully entered the tower has ever returned, so what is happening inside is, of course, all a matter of conjecture.

    " When we return, you will have met some people who have entered the tower and returned," says Berenn. "Thank you for sharing your knowledge."

    Emyn says, "Great and terrible sphinx, thank you for aiding us. Do you know how we might gain access to the tower and what we might encounter around it and inside of it? Also, what can we expect to encounter on our journey there? Finally, I have seen Thorgrim use his holy magics to prevent people from leaving this plane for another (dimensional anchor, though Emyn doesn't know the name of the spell). Might these magics suffice to keep the tower in our plane?"

    "Castle Inverness is always there, though the tower comes and goes with the fog," she says. "You have but to enter it once it appears, for it seems real enough. There is no magic that can anchor the tower, as such has been attempted in the past without success. Whatever magic causes it to phase in and out is beyond understanding. As for what's inside it, well, that is the question isn't it?"

    She also says that you should not find anything between here and there. "Nothing living at any rate. There are many ghosts at Inverness. When a place has seen such tragedy, such evil, it takes on a life of its own, even in death."

    "But there is the gem and maybe a way to save my beloved." says Hepla.

    "And Galap-Dreidel," she adds, almost like an afterthought as she examines the wand.

    "Nothing to working the wand," says Hepla, "just point and shoot. So you think Galap-Dreidel is still inside? He must be a Litch by now, Unless the magic is keeping him alive. I know two people whom magic is keeping alive long after they would have aged and maybe have died. They just refuse to grow old. He could be like them."

    You have heard various theories, which were that it appears with fog, at the equinoxes, and/or at the solstices. However, she definitely confirms that it appears and disappears with the fog.

    "It is the gem," says the gynosphynx.

    "Galap-Dreidel has become the gem?" asks Hepla, confused, "or has the gem become him? Or does it matter?"

    The sphynx shrugs. "One would have to find it, or them, to find that answer."

    "Seems fairly obvious," says Thorgrim to the party. "We have but to make camp near its place of appearance and wait. Perhaps we will find Markessa there waiting, as well."

    The sphynx thanks the party for an interesting afternoon, then flies off. The party then continues along the path. It winds up into the hills, following an old road that has seen better days. The terrain dries out quite a bit, and you soon find yourselves crossing through a long NW-SE valley, with high steep hills to your west, arriving at the castle just as it gets dark.


    [DM OOC: BTW, that's NOT a pic matching the map in any way. Just a shot of a castle at dusk to hopefully set the mood.]

    The approach to the castle looks almost as if one of the southern deserts had been defiled and then transplanted here. The barren, sandy ground holds no life, though a few thin, dead trunks that once belonged to trees struggle to show a presence. The moat, long since dried, is coated in places with a slimy green growth of uncertain origin. The drawbridge sits permanently fixed in its lowered position, and it appears not quite safe for wagons, or creatures larger than human size. The castle itself has started to crumble. The south tower lies partially collapsed, leaving a remnant that looks like a giant fang. Some of the windows are broken, letting the chill damp coastal weather into the castle. A high screech, joined quickly by another, breaks the unnatural silence. The sound comes from within the castle's walls.

    Isilme casts invisibility followed by Fly. Then she will fly up over the wall and take a peek. Hepla casts Invisibility and Fly. She is supporting Isilme and looking for where a tower would fit into the castle design. She will fly up to 100' above the castle to look if needed. She tells Emyn her plans.


    Here's the area map, so you can follow things!

    "Is this in fact the Ghost Tower? Did the sphinx not say it always appears in fog?" Thorgrim asks.

    I think the castle is always there, but the Ghost Tower appears from the center of the castle, and only in the fog," says Noot. "I was paying attention."

    Just after Isilme turns invisible, two great dark shapes take flight from behind the walls. Their movements are so fast in the darkening sky, that you don't get a good look at what they were. However, they were big, with large wings and long tails. Dragons, wyverns, or something worse.....

    The things take long, banking turns, sweeping out to the right and left as they turn back around towards where the party stands at the front of the castle.

    Rakk yells, "Wyvernns!" as he fires his ballista at one. You can't tell if it hits. He then leaps off his horse and starts across the bridge. "Get inside, quickly!"

    Elrae fires, also not hitting anything. Rakk stands before the front doors. The massive oak slabs are not secured, for the locks have long since rusted and the keys are lost to time. One door is slightly ajar. He pushes on it, but it doesn't budge. The wyverns continue their arcs, and then dive towards the party.....

    Berenn shouts, "Protect the mounts! They are probably after the mounts." He will get his bow out and nock an arrow, staying close to his mount.

    "Better them than us," says Thorgrim.

    Rakk blasts through the doorway with one swift blow, sending slivers of wood flying into the dark interior. Thorgim moves forward, entering the castle. Emyn attempts to ride right in, but the drawbridge isn't strong enough for a horse and rider. It collapses, his horse plunging through broken beams and getting half-stuck in the drawbridge. He holds on, and climbs off the horse.

    Berenn takes out his bow, getting it ready as Elrae reloads. Others are casting spells, when a fireball erupts before one of the diving wyverns. Hepla appears, about 40' above the party, pointing her staff out towards the beast. [She used her staff to throw a fireball in its way, causing 16 dam]

    It growls as it continues it's dive, grabbing at Hepla's horse [8] and picking it up. The other flies down and grabs Noot, snatching him in its talons [11] and taking off with him.

    Vaddara has now cast Mirror Image. Isilme sings a Charm Monster, and the Wyvern which grabbed Noot is charmed by her song. It floats gently, carrying Noot but not really doing anything with him.

    Isilme casts Tongues, so she can speak with the Wyvern, hopefully. Meanwhile, it lands atop the entry. The other wyvern flies off with Hepla's horse, as its tail strikes in the rump. The horse bays terribly as the wyvern flies off with it. Elrae fires another bolt after it, but misses again. Isilme speaks with the wyvern and gets it to let Noot back down, which it does. The other one flies off with Hepla's horse. Below, Berenn, Rakk, Vaddara, and Emyn help to get the horse out of the broken drawbridge. Berenn has to cast Animal Healing to take care of its wounds. Elrae joins Thorgrim inside.

    INSIDE

    You have gained entry into the ground floor of the castle. This is no ordinary keep, now or at any time. Yes, weapons and shields adorn the walls, but though they once boasted courage, heroism, and life, in their current tarnished state they now seem to represent cowardice, dishonor, and death.

    From where you stand, entrance at your back, you can see that once this was a great manor house. You are in a great hall, which has a ceiling almost 20' high. Directly above you there is an open gallery, which stretches about 60 feet into the hall, and is another 20' high to the ceiling above it. Windows above let in moonlight, which casts an eerie light throughout the place. There are huge fireplaces within the massive great hall, one to each side of you. The hall itself is so wide that you can barely see two walls to left and right, each about 50' away, nor can you see the far wall at all, lost in the darkness before you....
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:02 am  
    Part 4 - The Haunted Halls

    [DM OOC: Continued from earlier...]
    INSIDE

    You have gained entry into the ground floor of the castle. This is no ordinary keep, now or at any time. Yes, weapons and shields adorn the walls, but though they once boasted courage, heroism, and life, in their current tarnished state they now seem to represent cowardice, dishonor, and death.

    From where you stand, entrance at your back, you can see that once this was a great manor house. You are in a great hall, which has a ceiling almost 20' high. Directly above you there is an open gallery, which stretches about 60 feet into the hall, and is another 20' high to the ceiling above it. Windows above let in moonlight, which casts an eerie light throughout the place. There are huge fireplaces within the massive great hall, one to each side of you. The hall itself is so wide that you can barely see two walls to left and right, each about 50' away, nor can you see the far wall at all, lost in the darkness before you....


    1st Floor

    When Thorgrim enters, he flips around his eyepatch, bathing the area in continual light. Thorgrim's light reveals that the hall is very large indeed. It's about 100' wide, and you can see almost 100 ahead, and it keeps going! The ceiling is about 20' high, though right above the southern portion of the great hall is an open area, with a railing surrounding it. So, there's another floor above, which overlooks the entry.

    "This looks like the place that was described to us," he says. "A perfect spot for a Ghost Tower to appear. I wonder what would happen should someone be standing there when it does?" Thorgrim checks out the west hearth. "These are bigger than the one at my place!"

    Still outside, Isilme tells the charmed Wyvern to stay on guard, while she flies back down to the rest of the party. She gathers Noot and Hepla. "Now THAT's a Wyvern Watch!" she says.

    Those outside (Isilme, Hepla, and Noot) hear a faint singing inside. It comes from the other end of the great hall, back in the shadows. Elrae seems totally entranced, and starts to walk across the hall towards the sound. Thorgrim grabs, him, shouting. "A little help here!"

    As the men start to enter, Berenn and Emyn both fall under some kind of spell, and they too just start walking towards the sound. Rakk rushes down the hall, grabbing both of them and holding them back. The girls are just getting back down, along with Noot, when this happens. Vaddara is outside the building, and can only faintly hear anything.

    Upon hearing the sound, Isilme immediately says, "It's a harpy song!"

    The sound gradually increasing in volume, and Vaddara says, "Oohh," and turns to start walking inside, an entranced Noot right behind her...... Hepla and Isilme seem ok. Elrae, Berenn, Emyn, Vaddara, and Noot are all under some weird charm effects. Thorgrim's holding Elrae, while Rakk is holding Berenn and Emyn. Vaddara and Noot have just started walking in. BTW, the entryway has all your horses standing in it, though they aren't affected, nor is Ralph, which is by Rakk's side, growling across the great hall. Hepla and Isilme are at the front doors, unaffected as well, though they can hear the singing.

    Thorgrim drops his pick, and begins to cast a silence spell. Elrae fights him, but Thorgrim still is able to cast his spell. The area of effect covers everyone, and soon Vaddara and Noot walk right into it. As soon as they enter the silence area, the charm ends. All the charmed people wonder what just happened. The next thing you know, a harpy is right in your faces. Nobody heard it inside the silence, and it is nearly upon you before you can even act. It slams Emyn with two fists [10] and [12], sending him reeling backwards, out of Rakk's grasp, and to the floor at Vaddara's feet!



    Thorgrim lets Elrae go, as Rakk and Berenn draw blades and attack. They each score a hit against the harpy with their off-weapons, which slice through it but with no noticeable effect. Thorgrim moves back and picks up Souldrinker, while Elrae moves out of the silence, singing a bard countersong.

    The harpy then pounds Rakk, hitting him with two fists [16] and [3]. Thorgrim attacks with Souldrinker. He shouts something ferocious but no one can hear it through the silence spell.

    "That is not a normal harpy!" says Berenn, moving out of the silence himself and drawing his blades. "You need magic to hit it, and it looks, weird." Berenn then sheathes his masterwork longsword.

    Isilme swoops down attacking the harpy from behind. She hits it [11], becoming visible again. Hepla also hits it with a barrage of magic missiles, which just thunk into it harmlessly. Rakk and Berenn both sheath their MW swords, attacking with their regular blades. They both hit as well, doing [21] and [10] respectively. The thing bashes Berenn and Rakk both, doing [13] to Berenn and knocking him backwards and [12] to Rakk. Thorgrim moves up and attacks from the flank, hitting for [12]. Emyn moves over to Hepla's side, while Vaddara and Noot stay in the silence. The next round everyone slashes the thing, hacking it apart with a series of attacks that slay it easily.

    "I thought the harpy looked wrong," Hepla says. "Someone want to detect for magic and evil, please. Either that or we have crashed a ball that ended a long time ago but the guests never left."

    Thorgrim drops his silence, and the party gathers up around the harpy. Upon closer inspection, you see that it was a golem. Arms, legs, and various other parts were sewn together and animated by arcane magic. Nobody has ever heard of such a thing though, for it yet retained the harpy's ability to charm others. As you then look around, ghostly music fills the room. All around you, pale figures shrouded in dense mist dance through the room. The dancing couples wear the courtly garb of another century, another era. As the dancers float across the floor, it seems that something is not quite right. All of their heads appear to be tilted at an angle impossible for normal human necks. . . unless they were broken.

    Emyn uses his ability to detect evil, but he only detects a general sense of evil all around. It is as if the very essence of the place has been tainted.

    Rakk takes out his Bullseye Lantern, with which he can shine a strong beam of light far into the distance. He illuminates the rear of the hall, over 200' away. The hall narrows after the stairs, but continues to the rear wall. There are two more massive hearths on the far end of the hall. The ghostly apparitions continue around in their macabre dance, and each time the lantern beam hits one, you could swear it twists its head quickly towards you with a sneering look. When you look closer, they just continue to dance, ignoring you completely.

    Elrae watches the ghostly dance and sings a song from his youth.

    When the crypt goes creak,
    And the tombstones quake.
    Spooks come out for a swinging wake.
    Happy haunts materialize,
    And begin to vocalize.
    Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.

    Now don't close your eyes,
    And don't try to hide.
    Or a silly spook may sit by your side.
    Shrouded in a daft disguise,
    They pretend to terrorize.
    Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.

    As the moon climbs high o'er the dead oak tree,
    Spooks arrive for the midnight spree.
    Creepy creeps with eerie eyes,
    Start to shriek and harmonize.
    Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.

    When you hear the knell of a requiem bell,
    Weird glows gleam where spirits dwell.
    Restless bones etherialize,
    Rise as spooks of every size.

    If you would like to join our jamboree,
    There's a simple rule that's compulsory.
    Mortals pay a token fee.
    Rest in peace, the haunting's free.
    So hurry back, we would like your company.

    "This place is wrought with evil," says Berenn. "Foul deeds were performed here and the dead are restless. I suggest not provoking them and finishing our scouting of the castle. Noot, check the doors to the right for any noise coming from within and traps."

    Noot moves over to the right, but hears nothing. The doors are locked.

    Emyn says, "This very place is filled with evil. We had best move quickly before it can rally its forces against us. Perhaps these shades might not appreciate being turned by your holy presence, Thorgrim?"

    "Let's not bother them until they bother us," Thorgrim replies.

    Noot pics the locks, though the doors still don't open. Meanwhile, Elrae moves tentatively into the hall, towards the great staircase. This elegant, spiral staircase is broad enough for six people to walk side by side without crowding. During the height of the castle's last entertainment phase, traffic here was heavy. Elrae remembers some of the stories he heard. "It is said that Chardath once rode a horse to the dining level above just to prove he could," he says, looking up.

    Berenn ignores the dead, walking over to Noot. "Anyone want to try "knock"?"

    "Sure", says Rakk, as he rams his shoulder into the door, bursting it upon. "Knock".

    This room is empty, except for weapons racks along the walls. Clearly it was an armory in bygone days. The weapons racks are empty as well. Whatever was here was looted long ago.

    Rakk opens the next door. This area is an old kitchen. There are massive wooden tables around, as well as many shelves and such, as you'd expect. Areas that were once storage bins have all fallen apart and rotted. Broken pottery shards abound. Otherwise, it is empty except for a door at the far right corner.

    You walk across the room, the breaking potshards making eerie sounds as you step on them. You notice as you walk across the room that the NE tower has a dumbwaiter in the center. The door to it open, and you hear weeping within. You reach the far corner, and find a thick wooden door, closed with a latch. It isn't locked, but just has a pin through the latch keeping it closed. It looks like it was likely the kitchen larder.

    [Berenn OOC: I am going to hate myself for this one, but we will go over and check out the weeping within. Berenn is on extreme guard.]

    Berenn notes that the weeping is coming from up above, in the dumbwaiter shaft "above" the dumbwaiter. Thorgrim shoulders his pick and rubs his holy symbol, touching it to his forehead in a short prayer, as he backs up Berenn. Berenn inspects the dumbwaiter, and while he does this, Thorgrim moves over to the larder. He unlatches the door and looks inside....

    Hepla still watchs the dancers, she actually sways to the music. She's out in the hall with Elrae. As they move towards the stairs, the ghostly image of a woman stands on the upper part of the staircase. Her arm reaches out to you, her hand beckoning for you to follow as she gently drifts higher up the stairs, disappearing from your sight. For just a moment, Hepla could swear she looked like....Markessa!

    Vaddara stayed out there too, so there'd be ONE priest in the hall, and Rakk is there too, watching everyone's backs. Since Vaddara and Rakk don't know Markessa, all they saw was a ghost. Vaddara may have noticed she looked like an elf ghost.

    "I think that was Markessa," says Hepla with a start. "Did anyone else get a good look? I must tell the others."

    When Emyn comes over, he doesn't see any ghost at all. "Where did she go?" he asks.

    Elrae points up the stairs. Emyn draws his magical sword and heads upward.

    "As much as I want to catch Markessa," says Hepla, "I don't think we should divide. Well, it can't hurt to just go to the top of the stairs. And I have two brave men with me." She chases after Emyn and starts to climb the stairs.

    [Rakk OOC: Let me get this straight: Rakk and Vaddara are in the doorway to the kitchen. Berenn is at the dumbwaiter. Thorgrim is opening the larder door. Hepla, Emyn and Elrae are going up the stairs. Not sure where Noot and Isilme are. Scattering the party in an unknown castle.]

    Rakk calls to Emyn,"Let us finish here before we go upstairs. It is better together, no?"

    Hepla runs down to Rakk, "I think I saw a ghostly Markessa. Tell the other. I'll wait at the top of the stairs." She runs back to the stairs, remembers she can fly, and flies up to the top of the stairs."

    "Wait!" cries Rakk. "What if there is another harpy up there? Wait for us to gather together!" He then calls out to those in the kitchen, "Hepla says she saw a ghostly Markessa go up the stairs!"

    Berenn yells back, "Be there in a moment!"

    Rakk just shakes his head and waits to see who is the first attacked.

    Emyn grabs ahold of Hepla and Elrae. "Let's wait for the others," he says.

    Everyone is now at the foot of the stairs in the great hall except for Berenn, Thorgrim, and Noot who are in the kitchen Berenn has noted that the dumbwaiter is at the bottom. If he wants to investigate the ghost in the dumbwaiter shaft, he have to either break the dumbwaiter to get into the shaft, or investigate from the next floor. Meanwhile, Isilme casts Wraithform. She then ignores everyone else and flies up to the second floor. With Isilme moving upstairs, the rest follow. Only Rakk stays below, standing where he can keep an eye on both groups. He mutters something about splitting up.

    UPSTAIRS


    2nd Floor

    Most of the second level has been given over to a large feasting hall. There are four single doors leading from here, at various places as seen on the map, as well as a set of double-doors to the south. The meals served here were among the finest in the region. The ghostly apparition of one such banquet plays itself out over and over. Semi-transparent feasters sit at round tables everywhere you look, soundlessly pounding the tables with fists, knives, and two-pronged forks. From behind the tables, seemingly at all sides and corners of the room, three ghostly, shuffling elves, covered only by expensive cloaks, are prodded forward by orc guards. A half-giant, butcher knife and carving cutlery in hand, stands passively behind a pair of horizontal arm and leg stocks mounted on a 10-foot long table. The table is cut with deep channels and has a funnel leading to an open barrel at each end.

    The first elf, a young male, is led to the stand without struggle, his eyes glazed. The cloak is stripped from him; he is pushed into the stocks, which are then closed around his ankles and wrists. The butcher sets to work as spectral waiters stand ready with platters to receive the main course. Phantom wine stewards fill pitchers from the barrels as the ghostly guests roar their approval. The next elf is brought forward. The image fades, then begins again.


    Ghostly Banquet

    Isilme looks around the room, scanning for Markessa, or her "seeming" ghost, but cannot take her eyes away from the horrible spectacle she sees played out before her....

    Noot is looking around, but staying by the door, close to Rakk. He doesn't want to go far from help, and being in-between Rakk, Thorgrim, and Berenn seems safe. Meanwhile, the DM spends quite a bit of time making sure the party is doing what they want to be doing. [DM OOC: I don't want to unintentionally split the party up and send you to your dooms. If you want to do that on your own, that's fine!]

    [Emyn OOC: Emyn strongly suggests we haul **** back downstairs and not get separated.]

    Everyone but Isilme comes downstairs. They hear her speaking upstairs as she attempts to communicate with the captor elves in both elvish and ancient elvish. The ghosts do not respond in any way, pretty much taking no notice of her. [DM OOC: Wraithform I think just makes you seem another undead, and IIRC they just ignore you.]

    Isilme attacks the guards holding the elves with Maerthorlear. "I would end the suffering of my kin, how may I free you of this torment brother elves?"

    Isilme finds that she is able to slice through the first orc guard ghost with ease. However, the elf doesn't "run off free" or anything. In fact, the elf turns towards her, it's face changing into a wicked sneer, as do all the other ghosts. Her interference in their "ritual" does not seem welcome, even to the elves she is supposedly helping. Whether or not all these dozens and dozens of ghosts can affect her is another matter.

    As Maerthorlear starts singing in her mind, Isilme strikes down the sneering elf and says "As bladesinger, I release your spirit from this foul cycle" then moves to strike down the other elf.

    After cutting through the elves, the other ghosts attack Isilme with a fervor. She is sent reeling across the room by some kind of psychokinetic force which throws he back towards the stairs. The ghosts then continue to advance on her, encircling her, their faces taking on twisted and tortured appearances.

    Isilme flies upward and attempts to turn the spirits holding Maerthorlear out as her symbol. "Enough!" she cries, "lest you all tempt me to burn out your very existence on this plane. By the power of Ellistrae I compel you to depart my presence!"

    The phantoms all whip away from her, flying quickly in all directions and then disappearing, leaving the vast hall cold and empty. Isilme then flies up to the next level.

    The stairs continue up to a small landing and a stout wooden door (not shown, but I didn't want to make another map for a small landing.) It's over the area to the right of the spiral staircase. The large room is another hall, not quite as grand as the two other ones. Oddly, the stairs also continue further, right up to the ceiling, though they don't actually go anywhere. The great chamber is empty, and spaces along the walls reveal that there used to be many things hanging, likely shields, tapestries, and the like. All are gone now. There seems to be nothing here. There are quite a few doors leading from this chamber, as shown on the map.


    3rd floor

    DOWNSTAIRS

    Meanwhile, Berenn and Thorgrim decide to tackle the dumbwaiter. Berenn works the ropes to send the dumbwaiter up. Once he does that, the crying in the shaft stops.

    [Berenn OOC: I know I'm going to pay for this...]

    Berenn leans into the shaft and looks up. However, he doesn't see anything. He turns around to tell Thorgrim he doesn't see anything, and Thorgrim sees something move behind Berenn!

    "Behind you!" Thorgrim shouts, advancing. He grabs Berenn and yanks him out as a screaming elf child ghost, it's throat slit wide open, reaches out at him. It's hand just misses, and then it flies back up the shaft before Thorgrim can act.

    [Isilme OOC: A bunch of elvish spirits. Great. Isilme is gonna be spending all her time trying to release them from this place.]

    "It was just a spook," Thorgrim says. "Come, let us check out the larder." Thorgrim takes off his backpack and removes his censer, attaching it to his utility belt. "Likely be needing this," he says. "A little clunky, but no more so than usual."

    "Thanks old friend," says Berenn. "This place is full of death and evil! Let us check the larder and rejoin the others."

    Again, checking for traps, Noot finds none. There is a basic flip latch holding it closed, with a large spike dropped through it keeping it locked.

    Berenn takes out his holy symbol, removes the spike, and opens the door. Thorgrim stands behind him, and Noot behind Thorgrim. The rest of the party, except Isilme, is still at the foot of the Grand Staircase.

    Berenn swings the door open, and is started. Standing within is the ghost of an ef woman. Her face is a mask of pain and anguish, but hatred and ire burns darkly in her eyes.


    Banshee

    Berenn and Thorgrim both fail saves vs. Fear, and turn to run away immediately. They run passed Noot, who thinks running isn't such a bad idea either and he rushes after them! They come rushing out of the kitchen like hell was chasing them, which, it kinda is.....

    [DM OOC: In their haste to flee, Berenn dropped his holy symbol, while Thorgrim dropped Souldrinker. The loud clangs of the weapons hitting the floor echoes out of the room, right before the two do their best Shaggy and Scooby impressions. And I guess that makes Noot Scrappy?]

    Currently, nobody is in the kitchen now. Well, nobody alive at any rate.....

    Rakk grabs Thorgrim as runs out, and holds the dwarf in his vice-like grip. Vaddara tries to stop Berenn, but he just runs on by and out the front door!

    Noot stops and looks around. "Um, there's a really ugly dead elf ghost in there," he says, moving off to the side. "She didn't look happy."

    [Berenn OOC: Great! Berenn has turned into Sir Robin.]

    [DM OOC: Look on the bright side. When the banshee shrieks, you won't be around to be slain.....]
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:30 am  
    Part 5 - Who Ya Gonna Call?

    "Ugly, dead, elf woman?" says Hepla. "Sounds like a Banshee." She gets a little wax from one of her candles and makes earplugs for herself, she then starts handing them to the others, or jamming them in there ears if they are panicking.

    "Vaddara take Thorgrim," says Rakk. "Banshee don't look happy." He then talks to her. "Elf lady, we mean you no harm, tho' I think the reverse isn't true." Rakk then pulls the sword and shuts the door. "Probably won't help, but you never know."

    Hepla quickly hands out wax. Noot runs out after Berenn. Isilme continues up the stairs to see if she can pass through upward further, even though it appears not. "Stairs for nothing seem odd," she thinks. She sees no opening in the ceiling; however, there is a door on the landing. She ignores this and hurries back downstairs when she hears Berenn screaming like a woman.

    Elrae starts singing a loud cacophony to counter-song any banshee screams.

    If there's something strange
    in your neighborhood
    Who ya gonna call?
    GHOSTBUSTERS

    If there's something weird
    and it don't look good
    Who ya gonna call?
    GHOSTBUSTERS

    I ain't afraid of no ghosts
    I ain't afraid of no ghosts

    Elrae sings Ghostbusters, which draws Isilme downstairs. She flies down to see the party stuffing their ears with wax, and people saying something about a Banshee. Noot is off chasing Berenn, and they will be gone for a bit. Rakk has to help Vaddara hold Thorgrim, as he still is trying to run away, and she's simply not strong enough.

    Isilme says, "Banshees are a terrible foe. I battled one and nearly died when I heard the call of my goddess to the surface world. Let me see what I can do." She removes her mask, tosses her hair wildly, and enters the room with Maerthorlear in hand singing in her mind. She is still floating along in her ghostly form.

    As Isilme floats into the room, she is initially ignored by the Banshee which has its back to her and doesn't even seem to notice her. Rather, the Banshee has floated over to the dumbwaiter, out of which comes the twisted ghost of a small elf child.

    Isilme waits, watching. The banshee takes the child in her arms, and both suddenly transform. No longer are they the twisted, tortured souls they once were.

    [Berenn OOC: Looks like Berenn and Thorgrim did a good thing! ]

    [DM OOC: This is the corollary to "no good deed goes unpunished." No dumb deed goes unrewarded.]

    Isilme asks the spirit, "Now that we have reunited you with your child, can you tell me what happened here?" She speaks in elvish, then ancient elvish if that did not work.

    Outside, Emyn says, "So many trapped souls here. There must be a way to set them free and allow them to enter the afterlife." He prays to Trithereon for guidance on how to do that.

    The elf mother turns towards Isilme, a kind and peaceful countenance replacing the tortured look of moments ago. "It was Chardath Dardel," she says. "Or Kartak. Or Galap Dreidel. Whatever name he chose over the centuries."

    "Is he still here?" replies Isilme. "How did he do this to you? How can I help free or least bring peace to other elves here like I have you?"

    "Only the words of Chardath can say," she replies. "Find them, and you shall discover the answers you seek." She looks up, and Isilme can see a bright light pierce the darkness of the dreadful castle. It bathes mother and child, and beyond she catches the faintest familiar glimpse of a beautiful, forest, before they fade from view completely.

    Have faith, Isilme hears a voice say as the heavenly vision ends.

    By the time Berenn and Noot return, Isilme's Wraithform has ended. She walks over to the Larder, and there she finds the skeletal remains of an elf woman. Scratch marks on the inside of the larder door show that she was locked in there and left to starve to death. Isilme also notes Berenn's holy symbol on the floor and picks it up. She's holding it when Berenn finally returns.

    Thorgrim does likewise. "Did that ghost just say that Chardath Dardel and Galap Dreidel were one and the same?" he asks. "The mystery unravels..."

    [Vaddara OOC: Oh great. This guy is probably not dead as he can extend his life. Lets go get killed. Yee Haw.]

    [DM OOC: Hey, I could have let you face the Banshee, whose scream would mean instant death if you failed your save. Consider yourselves lucky, plus with Isilme going into the kitchen in wraithform, the banshee ignored her, which allowed her time to see what it was doing. It just wanted to find its child. Poor ghost.]

    The party then moves on, searching the rest of the first level of the castle. All the rooms to the left are guest rooms. They have old furniture and such in them, but you find nothing of value in the first couple. If you want to spend time thoroughly searching each room, let me know. You hear whispered voices and sorrowful wailing off and on in various rooms. The last door opens to a large storeroom, with lots of odds and ends. Stuff that a castle/chateau needs. Think of it as a huge walk-in closet. Oddly enough, everything here is in fine shape, seemingly brand new.

    Elrae steps forward. "Fear not, Snowfang shall reveal any magic." He holds Snowfang out before him, then says, "Yes, the entire room radiates strong illusory magic."

    [DM OOC: A long discussion followed about illusions. Man, what a pain in my ****! In the end, the party found they could not dispel the illusion. However, they searched the room and found a secret door. They couldn't open it, or even see it, but they could feel it there.]

    Hepla finally casts a Knock, and the door opens. It reveals a narrow hallway in the wall and a steep stairway spiraling down into cobweb-filled darkness.

    Hepla props the door open, if someone has a spike that would be better, "Who wants to go first down the creepy cobweb filled stairway?"

    "We should keep this part of our searching for last," says Isilme, "and focus on the upper levels first."

    The party agrees, and Throgrim spikes the door shut so nobody gets surprised later. They then leave the room and return to the great hall.

    "I am pleased we took the time to investigate this floor thoroughly," says Thorgrim. "Those dungeons may hold the key to this mystery. Isilme, based on what you've told us, I believe that Markessa has already been here and met her fate. That does not bode well for our chances of success. But she was one, we are many. Her arrogance was likely her undoing."

    The party then heads up the grand staircase together. Most of this level has been given over to a large feasting hall. There are four single doors leading from here, at various places as seen on the map, as well as a set of double-doors to the south. The meals served here were among the finest in the region. The ghostly apparition of one such banquet plays itself out over and over. Semi-transparent feasters sit at round tables everywhere you look, soundlessly pounding the tables with fists, knives, and two-pronged forks. From behind the tables, seemingly at all sides and corners of the room, three ghostly, shuffling elves, covered only by expensive cloaks, are prodded forward by orc guards. A half-giant, butcher knife and carving cutlery in hand, stands passively behind a pair of horizontal arm and leg stocks mounted on a 10-foot long table. The table is cut with deep channels and has a funnel leading to an open barrel at each end.

    The first elf, a young male, is led to the stand without struggle, his eyes glazed. The cloak is stripped from him; he is pushed into the stocks, which are then closed around his ankles and wrists. The butcher sets to work as spectral waiters stand ready with platters to receive the main course. Phantom wine stewards fill pitchers from the barrels as the ghostly guests roar their approval. The next elf is brought forward. The image fades, then begins again.

    It seems that Isilme's slashing away at the ghostly phantoms has done nothing to change the macabre display. You should be able to see, there are double-doors to the south. That should open to the balcony which overlooked the lower entry hall. There are single doors in the north, east, and west walls, as well as one in the corner of the nw of the room. The stairs also continue up.

    Thorgrim is horrified by the display and just stands there aghast for a moment.

    "I turned them away through the power of my goddess earlier," says Isilme sadly. "I tried to interfere in this scene and release the elves souls, but it seemed even they were upset I stopped it."

    Isilme goes through the double doors to the south. These two doors open out to a long balcony, which overlooks the southern portion of the Great Room and provides a view of the front doors. An ornate railing surrounds the balcony. Otherwise, it seems empty.

    Emyn has a very hard time making it through the banquet room without intervening but he manages to refrain from precipitous action. "Galap Driedel will pay for this abomination. BY Trithereon, I swear it."

    [DM OOC: Horror Checks
    Taking a page from Ravenloft (which I've done in the past!), I am having everyone make Horror Checks. Isilme passed hers when she initially went upstairs. However, not everyone else has passed them. Berenn failed and is filled with Revulsion over the ghastly banquet scene. Elrae fails and suffers from Obsession. He just can't get the scene out of his mind. Hepla is fearstruck. She drops her staff and cowers from the scene. Noot is fearstruck as well, and stands gaping at the scene. Rakk is beset by unnatural rage, and he spends three rounds sweeping through the room, swinging at the phantoms, smashing furniture, and the like. After a few minutes of doing his best Gotrek impression, he recovers, but is clearly shaken.

    There are potentially lasting effects from this moment. Nothing major, but it's more something that you can role-play. If the effects rear their heads again, I'll let you know! Ravenloft rules fit perfectly in a gothic scene as this. And no, you aren't in Ravenloft, yet..... muahahahahahahaha......]

    "Ugg those disgusting creatures feasting on elves, so gross," says Elrae. "Some things can't be unseen. We must find the soul gem and release these trapped spirits, only then will I find peace."

    The party then opens the NW door, which reveals a large storeroom, full of old tables, chairs, linens, etc. All the stuff which would be needed in a banquet room. There doesn't seem anything else of value there. The room to the north opens to a large walk. It circles nearly around the full of the castle. It looks to have bee exposed at one time, as revealed by the older battlement stones along the outer wall. However, they have been filled in and a newer roof built above. Once, it may have provided a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside; however, now it is a dreary hall. The many windows allow moonlight to enter, but the effect is generally disconcerting, enhancing the dread feel of the castle. There are stout wooden doors at each of the towers which are all closed. Shadowy figures roam the walk in your peripheral vision, but when you look at them, they aren't there. Are they figments of your imagination, or were they real? You cannot tell.

    The east door opens into a serving/preparation room. The dumbwaiter to the kitchen is in the NE corner, and the place is full of tables, plates, etc. There doesn't seem to be anything else here. [Incidentally, had you not dealt with the elf child in the dumbwaiter, you'd have likely witnessed a ghostly scene here, re-enacting the killing of the child by throwing it down the dumbwaiter shaft.]

    "Let us continue up the sta---" Thorgrim stops, looking at his companions. "Hepla, are you well?" He looks around at the others. "What's going on with you guys?"

    You head up the stairs to the third floor. When you arrive, you see the ghostly image of Markessa again, across the room by the north of the two doors in the west wall. With a final beseeching glance, the figure glides through the door and disappears, leaving no trace.

    "It seems Markessa has died and wishes to lure us to our doom as well," says Thorgrim. "Perhaps we should first scout out what lies beyond that door before we enter. It may be a trap, it may be Galap Dreidel himself."

    Noot looks unsure. He saw the ghost move through the doorway, and seems still shaken from what he saw below. He doesn't move.

    Vaddara casts Protection from Evil 10'r, and Noot seems encouraged by it. Together, the party then approaches the doorway. Noot hesitantly listens, hears nothing, then checks the door. It's not locked. Noot warily looks for traps, finds none, and then steps aside. "I'm not opening it. It's bad luck to follow a ghost."

    Emyn kicks the door in. It flies open with a crash as it slams back against the wall. Walking into the room, you see that it is a simple bedchamber. This is a simple room, coated now in dust, reflects simple tastes. There is a plain bed, a wooden chair, a modest chest, and a vanity. The whole is rather unadorned, despite the ornate woodwork of the chamber. Clearly, it's built for a noble, though whoever lived within was quite modest and spartan. Except for one thing. The outside wall is covered by a massive tapestry, showing an idyllic woodland scene, the center of which are a trio of unicorns. In the background, you recognize an elvish city, though it's not one you have seen. The tapestry is amazing, for it looks almost real, not like a tapestry at all. You feel like the unicorns could step right out at any moment, or that you could step in. It's breathtaking!


    tapestry

    As you stand there, gaping, you also notice a semi-transparent woman sleeping soundly in the bed. She looks like the beckoning apparition you saw earlier. Now that you can see her more closely, you can tell it is not Markessa. However, the resemblance is uncanny.

    "Why have you led us here?" asks Emyn. "What are you trying to tell us?"

    Noot leans over to Emyn. "You know you're talking to a sleeping dead woman, right?"

    Before Emyn can answer, another ghostly figure, this of a man, well dressed but obscure, creeps into room through the north door. He steals softly to the bed and lifts the sleeping woman over his shoulder. He then carries her out through the same door.

    "Th..th...they were going to eat the elf," says Elrae, shaking. "I can't shake that image from my mind. Oh look unicorns and rainbows, oh that looks nice, much nicer than this haunted tower of doom."

    Looking more closely at it, he notices a signature, woven into the corner. Lady Menillia Goldenmoon.

    Isilme uses "preserve" cantrips on the tapestry, and puts it in her LLL.

    You quickly follow the ghost, with others in the party following behind you. You open the door just in time to see the ghost float through the far wall in the NW corner. There's no door that you see.

    "Wait, there is a door here," says Isilme. She moves up and points out the faint outlines, and Noot comes up and finds that there certainly is a secret doorway here. Noot finds the secret door by pushing a panel on the wall next to it. The wall slides open, revealing narrow stairs leading down into darkness. Berenn had previously cast Find Traps, and quickly sees the second step glow red, denoting a mechanical trap of some kind.

    "It's a pressure plate step," says Noot. "I'm not sure how to disarm it; however, if everyone steps over it, we should be fine. I could also just push it and see what happens," he says uneasily.

    Before going down, Thorgrim gets his steel bar out of his Portable Hole. He'll shoulder his pick and hang on to the bar with his free hand until one or the other is needed. "I get the feeling this may come in handy," he says by way of explanation.

    The stairs are very steep and full of cobwebs. You can move down them, but you probably need some light for those who cannot see. Everyone with infravision can see fine.

    "Brrr, creepy crawly, dark, cobwebs and those ghosly dinners," says Hepla. "It reminds me of grandma's rooms."

    Thorgrim flips his eyepatch, and advises party members to get out their multiple light sources. You follow the stairs down, and they continue down the wall, passing by the storeroom on the 2nd floor, where you also find another secret door. Eventually they reach the 1st floor, where you spiked the door shut previously. The same secret passage continues. As you get to the second floor, Berenn spots another trapped step, again the second step down from the secret door. I assume you just avoid the step, after having Noot do a check around it. Berenn sees the same on the first floor. [He never looked in previously, and now his spell of Find Traps ends.] You are now in the corridor in the wall behind the 1st floor illusory storeroom, where you spiked the door shut. You catch a faint glimpse of the man below you, then turning out of sight.

    Before you descend down into the dungeons of the castle, Thorgrim casts Find Traps. Then, quickly following, you see the ghostly man descend several flights of stairs, then skulk into a cellar. Following, you note that he passes through a maze of ancient furniture, oaken cases, and chests, all of which are broken and litter the floor. He floats through the area and then down another, more narrow and darker, stair. Thorgrim notes a mechanical trap on the second step of every staircase.

    This floor seems to be a pretty standard dungeon. Most the doors are intact, but a few are not, and beyond them you see the remains of cells. The party follows and finds that the ghosts went through a large set of wooden double-doors. Noot checks them but finds they are locked and wizard locked.

    Rakk moves up to kick them in, when he hears a piece of wood creaking in one of the rooms off to his left. He turns his lantern in that direction, and sees what looks to be a wraith. "Wraiths!" he shouts, standing ready with his blade. He knows he is guarding the party's rear, and is prepared to not let anything pass.

    This area had a bad map which I lost and there was a lot of confusion. However, the party makes short work of the wraiths, having three priests to keep them back. Eventually, all of them are destroyed. Pretty much no undead could withstand the combined holy/positive attacks of the three priests. However, Vaddara's protection from evil 10'r spell is now ended.

    "Quickly," says Emyn, "let us find these ghosts before we lose track of them entirely."

    "Seems you destroyed all the undead in this room," says Isilme. "I really don't think we should descend further unless we are at full strength. We should clear the upper level and search for further clues then rest. "

    [DM OOC: A large discussion now followed about the party rushing off all the time. While they were chasing after the ghosts, it seems Isilme had flown off on her own. She
    reported that she found a few interesting rooms upstairs that seem to be empty of ghosts and need to be searched. She also noticed that the stairs that lead to nowhere on the ceiling of the 3rd floor actually lead to a flat spot on the roof where a tower "should" be, possibly the "ghost" tower. Also on the grounds outside she saw a twisted rose garden and a grave site, so she checked that out. On that stone is the name Marinessa Nellithian, and she explains that Nellithian is Markessa's family name as revealed to Isilme by the Elvish Queen. The reports of her evil doing started about the time of death mentioned on the stone, over 300 years ago. She then saw a ghost leave the garden and sink down into the grave. So, a big discussion goes on for some time, with half the party wanting to chase the ghosts while half want to go back and check out the grave. Eventually, they decide to leave the final stairs going down and return above ground to check out the rest of the place. As a DM, this frustrated me. They just chased after the key ghost, supposedly, which looked like Markessa, and then, when just about to go down the last flight of stairs, they change their minds and head back above. I could only shake my head at the reversal and play on.]
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:05 pm  
    Part 6 - "Khaaannnnn!" I mean... ""EMYN

    Isilme leads the party upstairs and back down and out to the grave. "Watch your step on those trapped stairs, she says."

    Thorgrim spikes the doors shut, and the party returns upstairs with Isilme. They find the door on the 1st floor opening to the illusion room is wizard locked again. They head up another flight, and find another secret door in the closet of the 2nd floor; they had missed it before. They leave via the banquet room, and notice the ghosts are all gone. They then go down the stairs and head outside, circling around to the side of the castle where the garden is located.

    This walled terrace, once a peaceful refuge, now seems a nightmare. Stunted black roses survive at the tops of withered, long-dead stems. Brambles cover the dead grounds like a grotesque carpet. A stone bench sits cracked and crumbling in the center. Where once the sunlight danced across the crenelations of the ivy-sheathed walls, now mists hide decomposing masonry, and alien images dance in the haze.

    Isilme takes the party to the grave where she points out the tombstone. It says Mariniessa Nellithian. The date is about over 300 years ago.

    Emyn says, "I am loath to suggest this as I dislike violating the sanctity of a grave but if we unearthed this poor lady perhaps one of our clerics might speak with her spirit and learn something."

    Thorgrim nods, inspectinge grave carefully and running his hand over the gravestone. "She didn't speak to you?" he asks Isilme.

    "I was floating overhead," she answers. "The ghost never saw me. She floated across the grounds, paused here, then sank into the ground."

    "What manner of ghost ye think she be?" wonders Thorgrim aloud. "Should we attempt communication? Marinessa Nellithian!" Thorgrim calls.

    There's no response. "I already did that," says Isilme dryly. "She didn't answer me either."

    Hepla sits down and lights a simple candle and says in a very quiet little voice, "Marinessa Nellithian, will you speak with us?"

    "If anyone can talk to a spirit, it's a witch," says Isilme. "Good idea Hepla"

    Rakk and Isilme go seek the spot where the ghost rose out of the ground by the castle, before floating across to the grave, but they see nothing. Meanwhile, Hepla fails to summon the spirit. "I didn't think I was strong enough yet," she says sadly. "Mother could do it."

    She collect the candle, and stands up. "The time for this spirit is likely passed. I remember that often they are tied to places, and sometimes only appear at specific times. Perhaps we should rest and try again tomorrow?" She looks back at the haunted castle. "I don't want to sleep inside there though."

    [DM OOC: It's just after midnight now, as you've been investigating the place for about 4 hours now.]

    "Likely," says Isilme, " the apparition completed its 'reenactment', which ended underground in the level underneath the dungeons. Since you didn't follow, you didn't see what happened. Then the spirit returned to its resting place. When I saw it come up through the ground, it was just returning to its grave."

    "And this Mariniessa Nellithian is the arch nemesis that everyone is seeking? This Markessa?" asks Vaddara.

    "No," replies Isilme, "but she shares a last name with her. What the relationship is, if any, is unknown."

    "I'm agreeing with Isilme," says Rakk. "Let us finish exploring the upper levels. After that, we can either rest somewhere and wait for the next 'performance' or see if the dawn brings mist with it in the morning."

    "What do you think the kidnapper did to the elf lady down in the dungeon?" asks Elrae. "It can't be good."

    Everyone looks solemnly towards the grave, but nobody speaks. After a minute, Isilme breaks the silence. "There was a master bedroom, a library, and a room without a bed upstairs; those should be checked.

    "A library?" asks Hepla, her interest suddenly piqued. "Where there books in the Library? That would be great to check out."

    Emyn asks, "What books could possibly survive after three centuries?"

    "Magic ones," says Hepla, heading back inside.

    The rest of the party follows, and Isilme flies on ahead of her, Maerthorlear leading the way. They make it upstairs without issue and enter the library. There is little order here. Chairs sit scattered, left where they were when the last user pushed himself away. Many old books rest on the shelves, mixed with ancient folios, scrolls, and other items. It will take a long time to go through the mess.

    Emyn starts tipping over shelves. "Anything that survives the fall must be magical. It will save time searching."

    Berenn grabs Emyn before he starts making a mess out of the place. "Just because something isn't magic, doesn't mean it isn't valuable. Detect magic will identify any magic within the room."

    "You never know about these books," says Noot. "Pull the wrong one and...."

    Hepla casts Detect Magic, as Thorgrim speaks to Emyn. "Any book can easily last five or more, if well-kept," he says. "That method may have worked in the Lost City, but not here. Thousands of years in a swamp is not the same as mere hundreds next to a desert."

    Isilme shakes her head at Emyn's antics as she goes out through the doorway. She heads across the hall for the other room, the one with no bed. Back in the library, a figure suddenly materializes in front of Emyn. He is a disheveled man with a wild look in his eyes. His uncombed hair sticks up at odd angles, and he looks as if he has slept in his clothes for weeks. He carries a long wavy knife with a pulsating red jewel in the pommel that he seems only too willing use. With a wordless scream he charges Emyn, knife raised highó but before he reaches him he stops. He shakes his head in bewilderment, turns, and leaves through the north wall muttering something nobody can not quite make out. After he leaves, you recognize him as the man from the painting in the inn, Chadrath.

    "Clanggedin's beard!" Thorgrim shouts. When he gets over his surprise, he checks the north wall for secret passages. He doesn't find any, and as he feels around it occurs to him that ghosts don't need secret passages.

    Hepla is scanning the books carefully as she uses her Detect Magic. She notices that the titles on the spines of the books (those with titles) seem to writhe and twist. She walks closer to get a better look, and the words are all spelling nonsensical words.

    ***

    Meanwhile, back in the other room, Isilme finds a letter inside a chest against the far wall. It's sealed with a wax symbol, and it says on the front "Dearest Marinessa." Isilme tucks the letter in her pouch and continues her search of the room. As Isilme puts the letter away, something flies by her in the dark. She sees only a mass a cold air whirl by, snatching the letter from her.

    "Mine," says a man's voice.

    ***

    Back in the library, Emyn moves up beside Hepla. From one of the shelves, a book falls to the floor with a thud.

    "Don't forget to say, 'Klaatu Barada Nikto' before opening the book," says Elrae.

    Emyn examines the thudding book by checking to see if there are evil emanations from it before he touches it. Unfortunately, EVERYTHING in the place emanates evil, though barely. The book is no different than the walls, floor, etc.

    Emyn opens the book, only to find that pages seem to all be made of flesh. Tracks of veins run through it where words should be.

    [Isilme OOC: Oh crap! You better have said the words!]

    Emyn screams, throws the book out the closest window, and runs at full speed away from the library shouting, "Run for your lives, burn those books before they get you! AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!"

    Emyn runs out into the central room. He runs towards the wall where he stops by an old harpsichord. He leans against it, trying to recover from what just happened. Actually, there's a book there too, a music folio! He screams, knocking it away from him as he scrambles in the other direction. The book hits the floor, breaking open. A slight breeze blows a couple of pages across the floor.

    ***

    Back in the other room, Isilme instantly casts Telekenesis and whips the letter back into her hand. "NO. MINE!" she shouts back. "As a descendant of House Nellithian, I claim all that is mine in this place. Speak with me that I may know who you are."

    After she takes the letter back, a blast of force hits her, knocking her backwards into the wall[3 damage]. Materializing before her is a terrible, twisted figure. He is burned, melted, broken, and his head twists at a strange angle. Isilme feels a strange sense of dread and despair and sinks to the floor. She feels she should reach out for Maerthorlear, but then thinks, "what's the point?" However, her hand grasps the pommel and she begins to feel the blade's power surging back against the power of the ghost. While this battle goes on, the letter flies back out of her hands, and the ghost disappears.

    Within a minute or two, Maerthorlear has driven away the ghost's influence, leaving Isilme once again in control of herself. She casts "locate object" and goes after the letter morlather in hand. The letter is back in the chest where she found it.

    Isilme wipes the sweat from her palms and takes a moment to steady her nerves all the while taking comfort from Maerthorlear's soothing voice in her mind. She takes a firm stance and casts "protection from evil" saying "Begone foul spirits!" Then retrieves the letter from where she found it and opens it to read it....

    [DM OOC: I should point out that the party is split apart now, again.... Most are still in the library. Emyn is in the great room. Isilme is in the guest room w/o a bed.]

    ***

    Emyn kneels down, takes off his backpack, and takes out his flint & steel to light a torch. Meanwhile, Elrae, having followed the action of Emyn's flight, spots the harpsichord and the music sheets. He moves over there and starts to collect them. Emyn lights a torch, only to find Elrae standing by the harpsichord with the music sheets all gathered back up. He's looking at them when Emyn starts to approach.

    "Get away from those man!" shouts Emyn, waving his torch. "Get away! Can't you see they are going to eat you? Oh no...don't let them possess you!"

    After collecting the precious pages of music, Elrae sits down at the harpsichord and plays a song from the Folio:

    Dreidel made a little castle. He made it out of clay.
    When it was dry and ready, then Dreidel made men pay.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, He made it out of clay.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel then Dreidel made men pay.

    He used his lovely soul gem, to trap men's souls within
    To do his evil bidding, He'd let them out again!
    Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, He'd trap men's souls within.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, He'd let them out again!

    Old Dreidel he got tired. He left over the Selintan
    And many went to Dreidel's home, but no one let them in.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, he left over the Selintan.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, but no one let them in.

    Dreidel made a little castle. He made it out of clay.
    When it was dry and ready, then Dreidel made men pay.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, He made it out of clay.
    Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel then Dreidel made men pay.

    [DM OOC: Sigh....]

    Actually, as soon as Elrae sets one of the sheets on the harpsichord's holder, it starts to play by itself. Surprised, he falls backwards off the chair, hitting his head on the hard floor [0 because of Stoneskin].

    "Oh NO! The evil songs contained in that book have possessed you Elrae!" cries Emyn. "I will purify you!" Emyn throws a flask of oil at the harpsichord and a burning torch in the hope of purifying him with fire and destroying the source of the evil. The harpsichord and the music sheets erupt in flames as Emyn throws his oil on them!

    "Which one of the two are possessed?" yells Vaddara, coming out into the music hall. "You're going to burn the walls down around us."

    "Throw the book on, throw the book on!" yells Emyn frantically. Everyone can tell the man has lost all control.

    "What book?" says Elrae, clearly upset. "The book of music is sitting on the harpsichord, both are burning."

    Emyn thought only the sheets were on the instrument. He must have missed it in his panic. He then shouts towards the library, "Bring the books out here, I started a nice fire!"

    [Isilme OOC: Why is Goldie always trying to kill us with fire?]

    "What in the Nine Hells are you doing Emyn!!!???" yells Elrae, waving his arms at Emyn. "Fricking Frack do you know hard it is to find ancient music like that, now it's ruined." He walks away in total disgust.

    Hepla hears all the commotion, comes out into the main room where she see's what's happening, and shakes her head. She slings off her backpack, digs out her wand of Fire Extinquishing, and puts out the flames.

    Elrae is still upset, and he sits down in a chair, taking out his pipe and lighting it. As Elrae lights up his pipeweed, there is a tremendously loud booming note, as if all the keys of the harpsichord were hit simultaneously. Hepla and Emyn are both knocked backwards to the ground, taking [8] and [10] damage, respectively and both are deafened. Elrae takes only [4] and is not deafened.

    ***

    Back in the other room, Isilme starts to read the letter. As soon as she does, the spirit appears again.

    "No!" it shouts, ripping across Isilme's face, but she is protected by her Protection from Evil.

    The ghost rages at Isilme while she opens the letter. She reads the first words,

    Dearest Marinessa,
    I have watched your sorrows these many weeks, and I cannot...


    BAMM!!! Before she reads any further, she is hit in the head by a drawer from one of the dressers [3]. It knocks her over, and she sees blood on her fingertips after she rubs them on the side of her head.

    "You will stop now foul spirit or I will remove the letter from this plane of existence and you will loose it forever," says Isilme calmly. She waits, holding Maerthorlear before her. "The power of Ellistrae compels you to begone evil spirit!"

    [DM OOC: This was a failed turn attempt, btw.]

    A chair flies across the room, just missing Isilme's head and crashing against the wall. Those outside hear the crash. Isilme casts Dimension Door, suddenly disappearing and reappearing about 100' up in the air above the castle. There she reads the letter in peace:

    Dearest Marinessa,
    I have watched your sorrows these many weeks, and I cannot abide it any longer. It pains me to imagine you sitting in your room, staring at your tapestry. You say it is the only beautiful thing left in your life, and that is truly sad. I will take you from this place, Kartak be damned! Wait for me at midnight, and I will free you from this wretched place.

    Your servant,
    Haganor


    ***

    Inside the great room, only Elrae heard the crash, because the others were deafened. He turns to go that way when a painful howl is heard from the room where Isilme had been searching. The door flies open, and a gust of wind flows by him, whipping up bits of burnt paper which float gradually back to the ground.

    Rakk moves outside to check it out, though Berenn ignores it. "Isilme's on her own," he mumbles as he stands close to Vaddara to benefit from her spell. Hepla also goes back inside the library, to take cover within the bounds of Vaddara's protection from evil.

    "As usual," Thorgrim replies. He heads out into the main hall though. When he sees the flaming ruin of the harpsichord, he immediately shouts.
    "EMYNNN!!!!!"
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    Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:38 am  
    Part 7 - Haganor

    The party is, once again, split apart. Rakk has entered the chamber where Isilme found the note, but she is no longer there, having cast Dimension Door to escape the ghost within and read the letter in peace. Hepla, Vaddara, and Berenn are still within the library, as Hepla is quite interested in the books. Meanwhile, Emyn is still suffering from the affects of the book he opened, attempting to burn everything much to the dismay of Elrae and Thorgrim. As usual, Noot just stays back out of the way.

    After reading the letter, Isilme is attacked from above and hit once [10] by a WYVERN. It dove into her while she was hovering above the castle reading the note. This was a claw attack, NOT a poison tail attack, and the wyvern is currently is holding her in its claw. Isilme hears a man's laughter from nearby and below her.

    [DM OOC: Also, for Isilme I am not doing a map, since she's flying 100' in the air and it kinda doesn't matter. Oh, and she's been grabbed by the wyvern. She also is not holding Maerthorlear, as she had to sheath it to read the letter.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: Mm. Shoulda killed those damn wyverns. This is a rough one because none of us have any clue as to where Isilme is at.]

    Isilme begins to cast Wraithform as the wyvern continues flying away, biting and stinging at Isilme. The bite does [7] and the sting does [5]. She can feel the bite of that stinger, as her muscles begin to tense. However, she fights off the poison effects and completes her spell. [DM OOC: You're also lucky you made that poison save. Instant death if you had failed!]

    Isilme also makes her concentration check, and she casts Wraithform, slipping out of the wyvern's grasp. [DM OOC: You DID make the 3 in 20 Concentration check!]

    Ghostly Isilme draws Maerthorlear. Then, her blade in one hand and the letter firmly gripped in the other, the fire in her eyes holds deadly intent as she scans for the laughing ghost? She was actually carried a couple hundred feet away from the house when the sweeping wyvern grabbed her. As she floats in the air looking around, the wyvern slowly circles around, which takes a while as it's not the best flyer. Isilme casts Invisibility and dives down towards the castle looking for the ghost. She doesn't see anything except another wyvern, the one she had charmed, sitting on the roof.

    She's hears a man's voice from somewhere below her, but doesn't see anything. "These are MY wyverns," it says. Then she hears the same laughter again.

    Isilme "lays hands" on herself for full healing [+16], and looks for the ghost. She doesn't see anything. The other wyvern flies back this direction about this time, and settles down by the other.

    "Stay away from my birds," says a voice from the darkness.

    "Keep your birds away from me and my friends, or you will loose them," she says loudly and with certainty into the darkness. Isilme casts "cure light wounds" on herself, healing [8], then "polymorph self" and takes the form of Marinessa with letter in hand. She hears mocking ghostly laughter nearby, but cannot see anything.

    Back inside:

    "Anybody seen Isilme lately? ISILME!" Thorgrim shouts. He coughs and sputters from all the smoke in this room. "Need to let this smoke out," he mutters.

    Noot moves cautiously toward the commotion. He mumbles as he smells the burning book, "ugh bad cookbook."

    Thorgrim sees Emyn cowering in the corner and slaps him up a bit.

    "Emyn! What's gotten into you? Snap out of it!"

    [Berenn OOC: Somebody might want to restrain Emyn before he burns the rest of the castle down.]

    Hepla casts Mirror Image, then she moves back into the other room. Emyn moves towards her, then stops, confused by the multiple images. Thorgrim moves over and helps Elrae to his feet, while Rakk looks around the other room, scanning it with his lantern. He doesn't see anything other than normal furniture, though there's a broken chair against the wall, as well as a couple of drawers which look like they were thrown as well.

    In the library, Noot moves back over to Vaddara, wondering what's going on outside, but reluctant to leave her circle of protection.

    Emyn shouts, even though he cannot hear anything thanks to the haunted harpsichord, "See, I told you that book was dangerous!"

    "What's all the commotion?" calls Noot from the doorway.

    Rakk comes back out, sees Hepla's multiple images, looks at Emyn as he's shouting, then answers Noot. "I have no idea."

    "Let's search all these rooms before Isilme gets back," Thorgrim says, shaking his head.

    Emyn lights another torch and heads to the door of the library. "Do not let the pyromaniac go into the library with a lit torch!" says Elrae, gathering up the burned music pages.

    Hepla blocks him. "Why did you do that?"

    "But dear, you didn't see what I saw..they're...terrifying," he replies. That being said, he can't bring himself to walk closer, a wide-eyed look of terror in his eyes.

    Hepla to Emyn, "Do not worry, anything that is scarry, I will throw out. Just stay handy."
    She looks at more books and trys to find some that would interst her, and that she can read. Emyn will restrain Hepla from entering the room. He's not going to let her be harmed by those books.

    "We arent going to clear this building tonight," says Vaddara. "It's passed midnight now. Let us get out of here and set up the fortress, or do rope trick, or what ever the group decide, and come back during the daylight hours if we want to search in this building.

    "I don't think we are going to get a moment's peace here," answers Berenn. "Setting up the fortress is pointless, most of the things harassing us could walk through the walls. We can rest once we have figured out what is causing all this upheaval."

    As Hepla stands in Emyn's way, Thorgrim enters the southwest room. Strangely, while this bedroom holds a washbasin, a stand, a chest of drawers, and a small settee, there is no bed. With his light, Thorgrim sees a large rectangular area that shows signs of a fire along the SW angled wall. Suddenly, a very strong vision fills his mind, and he sees the room with a bed, totally engulfed in flame!



    It lasts for only a few moments, then it passes and he sees the room as it is again.

    Though shocked, Thorgrim still manages a dry comment. "Has Emyn been in here already?" Thorgrim calls. He then investigates all the furnishings. Outside, Elrae starts to sing a quick ditty:

    Out where the river broke
    The bloodwood and the desert oak
    Holden wrecks and boiling diesels
    Steam in forty five degrees

    The time has come
    To say fair's fair
    To pay the rent
    To pay our share
    The time has come
    A fact's a fact
    It belongs to them
    Let's give it back

    How can we dance when our earth is turning
    How do we sleep while our beds are burning
    How can we dance when our earth is turning
    How do we sleep while our beds are burning

    The ghost of Haganor then appears before Thorgrim, in all his horrible burned fury. The image sears itself into Thorgrim's mind, and the stout dwarf feels the waves of despair washing over him. However, he steels himself amidst the assault, and stands firm before the ghost. Thorgrim grasps his pick tightly. "Spirit! Why do you disturb my rest? Speak!"

    "It is MY rest that is disturbed," it answers, its voice a haunted howl. "Always." The chest flies open, and it cries, "And now my note is gone! How shall I warn my love now? How shall I save her?" It starts wailing, and some of the loose things in the room start to shake, some starting to rise in the air.

    "Ah. In that case I am sorry," says Thorgrim, lowering his pick. "What is this letter you speak of?"

    The ghost screams, and the furniture in the room all picks up and flings around. Thorgrim is hit by a chair [6]. The ghost seems out of control.

    Elrea pokes his head in the door and shouts at Thorgrim, "Tell the poltergeist that we'll write him a new letter for his loved one." He then ducks away from the flying furniture and is happy he has stoneskin.

    Ignoring the wyverns and the outside ghost, Isilme then flows back through cracks into the building and flies down into the room without a bed. She sees Thorgrim standing within, and ends her spell. Thorgrim's startled by the sudden appearance of another ghost, but the voice he hears from it is clearly Isilme's. "Thank you dearest Haganor, I have been warned, rest in peace."

    Everything suddenly drops to the floor, and the ghost disappears. Haganor appears before Isilme, but he clearly is not impressed. "You come into my world, mortal?" he says. "You think parlor tricks can fool Haganor?" He raises a hand towards Isilme, "I would burn your soul, did you not hold that," he says, motioning to the letter.

    Islme allows herself of shift into "Isilme" form and her hand is on Maerthorlear though she does not draw it. "I am not your enemy," she says. "I am here under direction of the elvish Queen. I can return your beloved Marinessa to the Celene as you once planned or I can even give her this letter and set your soul at rest. For unlike others I can cross into the spirit realm. If you do not want my help, I have an offer: Tell me the history of this place and what happened here. I have seen great harm brought to my elvish people replayed before my eyes. In return I will give you this letter and bother you no more, sealing your room that you may rest in peace."

    Isilme waits quietly to see what the spirit will do, prepared to cast a spell that will disrupt this spirit's existence should he be hostile.

    The ghost pauses, then lowers his hand. "Chardath killed her," he says between sobs. "I tried to save her, tried to warn her, but Chardath found me out. He always finds out! You can't hide anything from him. He is powerful, more than any other mage I ever knew, with spells the likes of which I've never seen nor heard." He sits on a bed that isn't actually there. Thorgrim looks confused, but Isilme sees it though, in a semi-ethereal state.

    "I was no match, no match at all," the ghost of Haganor continues. "He came, he burned me." He then starts to writhe in agony and Isilme sees his ghostly face twisting and blistering, as if suffering again. It also starts to grow hot, and then the bed erupts in flames as Haganor cries in agony. The fires burn so intensely, that there is shortly nothing left but a large burned mark on the floor. Then all is quiet.

    Isilme involuntarily shudders when she realizes the extent of torment the damned spirits here are forced to suffer. She says a short prayer for his soul to the goddess, while Thorgrim does the same to his dwarf gods. When done, the two rejoin the party as they are about to enter the master's bedroom.
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    Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:23 pm  
    Part 8 - Chardath's Chamber

    In too loud a voice Hepla says, "What next, rest or explore. I can't even hear myself."

    [DM OOC: You find that your hearing is slowly returning. In a few more minutes you'll be fine.]

    Rakk will move to open the door to the master bedroom.

    "Wow, Rakk you sure are moving quietly," says Hepla. "Hey, I can sort of hear my voice."

    Rakk opens the door. Shining his lantern into the room, he sees a very large, long chamber. The master had horrible tastes in decorating and an appalling lack of respect for art. This room is stuffed with the exquisite entangled with the banal. Bad paintings hang atop beautiful tapestries, nails driven right through the fabric and into the wall behind. Vases and low tables clutter the floor; the bed is a huge four poster affair with tapestries surrounding each side. Each of the 20 large wall sconces (five per wall) is different and mismatched. There is a partition separating the rear of the chamber from the rest. There is also a huge fireplace in the southern wall.

    Thorgrim enters with Rakk to investigate the room. Start with the tapestries and paintings. They are mostly very old, with one clearly painted by the same hand that painted some of the paintings from the inn. Noot enters reluctantly, and starts to search for secret doors along the wall to the left. Hepla goes over to read the signature on the painting. She notices that one of them seems to be the same man they saw in a painting at the Inn, the painting of Chardath. Otherwise, they all seem creepy, with seemingly shifting images and such. However, every time she looks closely, she sees nothing at all.

    "Strange how the figures seem to move when we are not looking at them directly," says Hepla. "I am thinking that a Dispel Curse might help. What do you think?"

    "This entire place is cursed," says Thorgrim.

    Elrae then joins Hepla, looking at the paintings too. "It is a painting of Kartak Dardel," he says, though you see that it looks strangely like the painting of Chardath. "I don't know what the name of the other painter was, but this one is clearly a different painter. Further, all the features seem subtly reversed, like a mirror image. This has all the hallmarks of a self-portrait, but by one who didn't understand what a mirror does to one's image. Seems this Galap-Dreidel, among other things, was a poor artist," he concludes.

    Noot doesn't find any indications of secret doors. Everyone then hears the sound of a woman weeping from further in the room, near the bed. It ends in a sudden loud shriek, then just as suddenly ends.

    Thorgrim moves to the partition and looks behind it. The area is a bathroom, tiled in a beautiful blue marble. There is a large marble table, above and below which are cabinets. Hooks along the south wall hold robes. A commode and a tub are along the east wall, and a chair sits behind the entry. There are some sundry items on the table, combs and such. Oddly, the bathtub is full of dirty water.

    "I've found something odd," Thorgrim calls to the group. He swishes his pick through the water to see if anything arises. "How could this bathwater remain for 300 years? It's either ghostly magic, or Markessa has taken a bath here. Perhaps you could detect her aura?" he asks Hepla as she walks in.

    As Thorgrim turns and glances towards Hepla, he is suddenly grabbed and yanked bodily into the bath! Others hear a loud splash! Hepla sees Thorgrim's legs sticking up vertically out of the bathtub, kicking uncontrollably. She grabs Thorgrims legs and fights to pull him back. "Help," she yells.

    Hepla pulls him back out of the now empty tub, unsure of what just happened. As she does, she sees a bit of movement and is startled until she realizes its a mirror. She makes sure Thorgrim is ok. She cleans his mouth out and tryies to see if he might have injested some of the bath water. "Spit it out Thorgrim, its not good to drink."

    Emyn rushes in and kicks over the tub, but just hurts his foot [2]. He realizes then that it is far too heavy for that! He also realizes that the tub is empty. There is no water, yet Thorgrim's dripping wet.

    Vaddara will try the cantrip: Dry on Thorgrim. This should confirm if the water is magical in nature. She dries him up without problems. Still, he coughs out water as he tries to catch his breath again.

    Thorgrim stops coughing and sputtering long enough to breathe.

    "'Twas some spirit pulled me under the water...an elf-boy, incredibly strong." Thorgrim sticks his finger down his throat to induce vomiting. After retching, he inspects the vomit for signs of the bathwater in his puke.

    He looks back at the bathtub, surprised to find it empty. "Although it appears illusory, I swear by Clanggedin's Beard that I ingested some of that evil ichor...this does not bode well."

    Meanwhile, Hepla steps back, "Thanks guys." While they are working on Thorgrim she takes a look into the mirror, then touches it. It all seems normal. As for the bathtub, you have no explanation......

    Isilme enters. Hearing something about a spirit in the tub, she swings her blade in a few deadly arcs along the bottom (underneath) of the tub. Nobody finds anything strange about the tub or mirror.

    "Friend Thorgrim," says Isilme, "no doubt you experienced the last moments of one of these spirits. They seemed to linger eternal agony, doomed to repeat and relive their last day on this world. There is one spirit or being outside however, who seems free to do whatever it wishes, including control the Wyverns as pet "birds". I gained a lot of information. It seems we had best follow the ghost of Marinessa to learn more when when she reappears. If you are up for it, I would like to go below and ensure there are no surprises when we do follow the ghost further. Another army of undead assuredly awaits.
    If not we should rest where we set the spirit of the banshee and the child free of this struggle. It is no doubt, the only place we could get rest undisturbed."

    "I am not sure one place is safer than another," says Berenn. "I don't think it will matter where we rest. If you would rather sleep in an empty room, we can go back down stairs.

    "This must be painful to you," says Hepla to Isilme, "all these suffering elves. I am sorry. Thank you for helping them and all of you for helping Emyn."

    "Some poor soul was probably drowned in this tub," says Emyn. "It seems this place has had more than its fair share of murder and slaughter. I will be glad when we can finish this quest. Maybe we can help these souls some peace by doing so."

    Listening to Berenn's reply, Emyn adds, "The kitchens sound better. Under no circumstances will I stay in the library!"

    Thorgrim pushes and prods at all the stones of the fireplace, feeling for hidden buttons and catches. He moves the pokers and other fireplace accoutrements.

    "Let us be swift, Hepla," says Thorgrim. "I'd hate to be burned by ghostly fire. Even though its nature is ethereal, its effects are quite real." Next he pushes, pulls and twists the fifteen mismatched sconces. Finding nothing unusual, he turns away and adds, "I can't think of any place in this castle I would deem 'safe.' We should decide where we're setting up camp and rest. I fear it's going to be a long night."

    Berenn notes everyone continuing to search for secret doors. "Is there a point to this? The spirits don't need secret doors to move around. It is going to be a wasted effort. It is better to go downstairs and tackle the basement once we are rested."

    "Spirits do not need secret places to hide," answers Hepla, "but letters, documents, historyies, or special items that hold the power to bind and loose spirits do need somewhere to be stored. And they are often hidden."

    Berenn nods. "Good point. Let us search this chamber, but let it be done quickly." He then will search the bed if it will save some time. He is going to avoid disturbing it too much and will replace anything that is disturbed. While he's looking it, he thinks he sees the sheets moving.

    Hepla finishes searching the tapestries and behind them when the movement in the bed catches her attention. The covers move about as if a couple people were under them, writhing to and fro. Elrae sees the covers moving as soon as he approaches too.

    [Emyn OOC: Emyn is not touching those covers. Given the way this place seems to turn the ordinary into the terrifyingly horrible, he doesn't want to know what is writhing under there!]

    Rakk moves up to the covers, using his spetum to rip them off. Everyone holds their breaths, grips tightening on their weapons. As they whip away they see...nothing. He pokes around with his polearm, but there's nothing there.

    "It appears that there are amorous spirits between the sheets," says Elrae. "Pretty funny if you ask me. Should I play them a song, Bow-chicka-wow-wow."

    Berenn frowns at him, then turns to Rakk. "Rakk, perhaps you should use your polearm to replace the sheets, bad things seem to happen when the spirits routine is broken. I would do it myself, but I prefer to stay clear of the bed."

    Well, short of actually making the bed, Rakk does the best he can at replacing the sheets. The movement's stop anyway. While going through the nightstand next to the bed, Noot finds a small leather-bound book, locked with a clasp. It's very old, and the binding is actually falling apart. However, the lock is still intact.

    "Nice find Noot!" says Isilme.

    "Pick the lock," says Elrae. "Open the book, and don't forget to say klaatu barada nikto."

    Seeing the book, Emyn leaves the room at a dead run.

    Noot smiles and looks at the book, while Elrae uses Snowfang to detect magic. Sensing nothing, he nods, and Noot picks the lock easily.

    The book is written in a old form of Common Tongue, but anyone can read it pretty easily. It seems to be the journal of Chardath Dardel. It's pretty old, and leafing through it willy-nilly will likely make it fall apart completely.

    "Well, what does the journal say?" asks Elrae.

    Emyn screams from outside the room, "Get out of there, you're all going to die!"

    Hepla uses a few cantrips on the book to repair the binding. It really isn't that difficult. Then she opens the book again. "There are a lot of entries," she says. "This may take a while."

    [DM OOC: I didn't create the ENTIRE journal. So, here's some excerpts....]

    Journal of Chardath Dardel

    Godsday, 18th of Flocktime (175 CY)

    With the return to Castle Inverness, I, Chardath Dardel, shall make the first steps towards recovering my family's fortunes. Though Kartak had nearly brought our family to ruin; yet, this castle is our home. It is high time the last remaining Dardels returned.

    ***

    Sunday, 2nd of Planting (176 CY)

    Foggy day today. Saw the Ghost Tower for the first time. It rose right out of the center of the manor! I asked mother, but she said to never go there, ever. Someday....

    ***

    Waterday, 12th of Reaping (182 CY)

    The Gynarch of Hardby, feeling great pity for the family's downfall, gave her blessing and entitled Mother as Baroness of Inverness. Does that make me the Baron? What of my sister? Mother hides her away, though I do not understand why. She has never even acknowledged her existence.

    ***

    Waterday, 4th of Richfest (184 CY).

    Nobody has come to the festival. Whatever we do is of no use. Without the ancient Dardel money, the castle's entertainments will never return. Mother doesn't see it, but I do. Tried to talk about our future, mine and Marble's, but she won't listen. Slapped me when I talked of Marble. Bitch!

    ***

    Earthday, 6th of Wealsun (190 CY)

    Hot today. Terrible heat. Mother keeps building the third floor. Why? I don't understand. Two workers dead already. The walk covered over. And why build the stairs to nowhere? I think she is finally going insane. Marble is still locked away. If not for me, she would stare at her tapestry all day. Why does mother do this?

    ***

    Moonday, 3rd of Goodmonth (200 CY)

    Mother died today. Marble didn't even cry. Yes, she's a deaf-mute without even a name. Mother never would explain that. I think I'll move her to mother's room upstairs. At least then she will have a window.

    ***

    Godsday, 11th of Harvester (200 CY)

    The Gynarch denied me. She said if only there was a daughter. What insolence! I am Chardath, Lord of Castle Inverness. Marble cannot be Baroness. She can't even talk! We've spend decades hiding her, what can I do? How would I explain? Stupid Harlot of Hardby. I shall show that bitch, I'll show them all.

    ***

    Starday, 1st of Sunsebb (200 CY)

    Fog again. The tower appeared, and now I understand mother's actions. The stairs lead right into the tower. Tonight I will enter. I shall find my family's lost wealth. Tonight everything changes.

    [DM OOC: Now, if you want to look more specifically through it for other info, that's fine. However, you will need to ask what kind of stuff you're searching for. I'll determine if you find anything relevant. Getting this takes at least an hour or so. That's going to make it close to 3am now.]

    "We know a lot more now then before but it is very late," says Hepla. "Let us think about what we learned and study this more later. Unless Isilme wants to use her special lens to read more."

    [DM OOC: [The point I was making was I didn't write any more!]

    [Hepla OOC: Yes, but there could be more in the future. ]

    [DM OOC: Well, I don't really want to write 25 years worth of a journal. If I did, I'd write my own!]

    "Seems like there was injustice all around," says Berenn. "Perhaps Chardath wasn't always bad."

    Thorgrim strokes his beard, deep in thought. "This journal is a godsend and contains all the clues we need, methinks," he begins. We have learned...

    "1. Chardath Dardel and Galap Dreidel are not one and the same. Though their names are suspiciously similar, it may be a coincidence."

    "2. The Stairs to Nowhere lead directly to the Ghost Tower, when it appears."

    "3. This sister 'Marble' he speaks of may very well be Marinessa. The sad circumstances of her life may well have caused insanity. If she is the mother or ancestor of Markessa, her insanity may well be explained."

    "Some questions that remain are: when does the Ghost Tower appear, and what is in the dungeon? Now it's time for rest. I don't want to face a lich or demi-lich or any other undead horrors while at the limit of my powers."

    It takes a good hour to go through the book and pick up these notes. There are more entries after the last, but I didn't have time to make them up and write them yesterday. Sorry. Suffice to say, they only cover a short span of time, maybe a year or so from the date that Chardath says he was going to enter the Ghost Tower, and they steadily get more and more difficult to understand. It's like reading of a person who is gradually and steadily loosing his mind. After another year or so, the entries cease altogether.

    You pick up a few things though. Chardath starts to talk of his wife, Marinessa. She is apparently locked away as well. Soon he starts to mix up Marble and Marinessa, then you no longer have any entries about Marble at all, only Marinessa.

    The last one babbles unintelligibly about Galap-Dreidel, clones (whatever those are: NONE of you understand what that word means, despite what you know as players!), sacrifices, the Soul Gem, and Marinessa being the key to everything. It makes no sense.

    "Sounds like he may have married his sister as well," says Thorgrim. "No wonder Haganor desired to save her from her hellish existence."

    Hepla shudders. "I know we should have set up camp and then read the book, but I think we were all so interested in the book that this was time well spent. Now where do we camp? The kitchen seems a good place. Wherever we camp, if you wish, I can go into Spiritform and see if I see anything there."

    Elrae recommends NOT staying in the house at all. "Let's just leave and come back in the morning? I for one won't get a minute of sleep here!"

    "I agree with Elrae," Thorgrim says. "We shall set up the Fortress outside the grounds. And something must be done about those wyverns."

    "Apparently the 'leaves' have it," says Vaddara. "We need to get out of here to even figure out if some of us have been affected long term."

    The party agrees, and everyone heads downstairs. When you make it to the entryway, you find all your horses are gone! You also hear laughter, which Isilme recognizes as the same laughter she heard above the castle.

    "Wyvern food," says Hepla.

    Berenn sees tracks from the horses leading outside. As the party goes outside, you find no sign of the horses. However, the tracks lead back down the road. Looking around, you don't spot the wyverns anywhere, least Isilme doesn't, and she has the best night-vision.

    "Should we follow these tracks?" asks Thorgrim. "Perhaps we'll be led into the same trap that the horses were."


    "We shouldn't stray too far," answers Elrae, looking around nervously. "We have to wait for a foggy night to enter the ghost tower. First we need to find out what happened to Marinessa."

    "Fog is most likely to occur at night or near dawn," says Berenn, "when the temperature of the day is normally at itís lowest. There is going to have to be a significant amount of moisture in the air as well. The Fall Season is when it is most likely to appear. Unless we are talking about an unnatural fog."

    Once outside, Thorgrim summons his fortress. Seeing Berenn and Isilme checking the horse tracks, Thorgrim grumbles, "Yet another of his horses is slain."

    He scratches his head and says, "They're almost more trouble than they're worth. Mayhap we should return to adventuring on foot, as in the old days. Still, it's a long way back. Let us form a scouting party and see if we can't salvage our mounts. I will volunteer to go, though I fear they may already be food for predators. Those who wish to stay behind in the safety of the Fortress may do so."

    [DM OOC: In light of recent events as well as recent comments made here and in PMs, I am pausing for you guys to "catch your breaths." Consider the entire party in the fortress, for the moment. I've taken liberty to cast healing as needed. Beyond that, I don't want to "assume" anything at this point, except that everyone is inside the fortress UNLESS you say otherwise. You guys may want to role-play the conversation. Take all the time you need.....]

    "The sound could be a Magic Mouth," says Rakk, "triggered by us coming back into the area. Do we want the horses? While I don't mind walking, it seems you prefer riding. Emyn please guard til the rest of us come back."

    "No," says Isilme. "It is a spirit; I dealt with it earlier."

    Hepla walks over to Emyn and says, " If you are taking this first watch, I am going to sleep. Please wake me if there is any trouble or when it's my turn for watch. And to be help keep the nasty books away from you." she casts Dispel Curse. She kisses him and finds a spot and curls up catlike and goes to sleep.

    Everyone starts to go to sleep except Isilme She whispers to Thorgrim," I am going to search for the laughing ghost."

    "What would you have me do?" Thorgrim stands ready to back up Isilme on her search.

    "Keep your distance, Thorgrim," she says, "but don't 'look' like you're trying to keeping your distance."

    "How am I supposed to do that?" he asks.

    "I don't know," replies Isilme, "Follow casually."

    Thorgrim decides to stay put, and Isilme flies off invisible. She doesn't find anything except a small ruined hound master's house. She tells them that held off searching until they could get the group together.

    [Berenn OOC: Did the spells or Rod of Xodal help Emyn?]

    [DM OOC: No. Those suffering from lasting effects of a failed Fear Check may be "cured" by a Remove Fear spell. However, Horror Checks are different. This lasts until the characters "come to grips" with it, so to speak. Yeah, stole a page from Ravenloft here!]

    In the end, everyone ends up going to sleep, with doubled watches. Nothing happens during the night. You see no sign of the wyverns. It seems they flew away.
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    Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:35 am  
    Part 9 - A Horse is a Horse, of course

    Godsday, 25th of Ready'reat (581)
    OK, you guys are going to sleep now. Berenn spends the night restlessly, not really able to sleep. He sits atop the fortress, looking out at the cursed castle, not sleeping at all. He sees the sun come up, and as it does he could swear the castle and the terrain take on a new, less foreboding appearance. By the gathering light, the area takes on a beautiful aspect, despite the years of neglect. The fall colors appear again, as the few gnarled trees seem to transform into their more...normal varieties. Even the fierce faces of the gargoyles high on the walls take on a clear and noble visage. As the rays of sunlight strike Berenn, he is heartened by what he sees, ready to face the day.

    Though he didn't sleep, Berenn regains all his spells. Everyone else has a very restless sleep. You only regain half your normal spells. I will spread them out across the levels. Fortunately, you guys can spend some time in the morning going over your notes, and the journal. This is a good time for the party to do some brainstorming, so to speak.

    BTW, no fog this morning.

    "Without the fog, we could search the tower for clues without being hounded by the troubled spirits," says Elrae. "I really want to see what happened to the poor girl who was abducted, maybe there is another way to learn the story."

    "We also may want to go through the books in the library in the non horrifying light of day," says Isilme.

    "Let's see what happened to the horses," says Rakk. "If Hepla could scry them, that may help the speed we get that done. Depending on direction, we could follow Isilme's clues around the ground."

    "I don't like it when we split up and go separate directions," says Vaddara, "so I will go with the group hunting the lost horses. With the time that has elapsed I doubt our chances but we need then and they need us. Let's press on."

    "Okay," says Thorgrim, "so we're decided. Horses, first."

    Just then, you hear the click-clack of horses hooves on cobblestones. Looking out, the horses make their way back on their own. The only one missing is the one killed by the wyverns yesterday.

    "We should probably secure them in case the wyverns return," says Berenn.

    For a while, the players spend their time trying to figure out how to make fog. After wracking their brains (or what passes for them sometimes!) I finally told them not to worry. Since it's part of the adventure, just wait; the fog will come!

    Thorgrim grunts. "Bah! It is highly unlikely our limited power could 'bring forth the tower,' and pray that we should not be so unwise as to enter it in our weakened state." He gets his gear ready, the looks at Isilme. "Let us check the residence of this houndmaster, and perhaps the dungeons, if time permits."

    "Fine by me," says Rakk. "Let's use the time to hunt for clues as to what is going on here."

    Before leaving Hepla calls everyone together. She has a candle lit and small black silk bags, enough for one each. She says, 'Last night we met some truly horrifying things. I have made up witch's bags of herbs and silver to protect you from your fears. I am only a beginner witch so I do not know if these will help much but the more you believe in them the less should be your fears. Where I know a specific fear, like books, I have designed it special for you. Wear them around your neck and be not afraid." With that she adds the incense to the candle and lets the smoke infuse the bags. She then takes a bag to each person, ties it around their neck, kisses them on the cheek and repeats, "Be not afraid."

    [Hepla OOC: The bags may or may not have any real power against things, DM's call, but since fear is often just mental she is right, the more they believe the less they will fear. Actually they might help against werewolves but we have not met any of those...yet.]

    [Vaddara OOC: Ooo, trick or treat bags. Lets go play.]

    The party waits until Noon to go explore. That gives them 5 hours until sundown, but they'll be completely rested. And the wyverns seem to be gone. Once the time has passed, the party heads out.

    Emyn says, "The horses left this place, likely because of its unnatural nature. Animals are ill at ease in such vile places."

    Thorgrim puts the horses in the Fortress as we gather our things. "They'll be safe here, barring a siege. Their waste will be disintegrated when the Fortress is compacted again. Now that we've rested well, make sure not to use all your spell power. For you will surely need it, when the Ghost Tower appears."

    "Thorgrim, I wonder what would happen if you put your tower where the ghost tower normally appears," Isilme muses.

    "Nothing good, I'm certain," Thorgrim chuckles. He then traces a pattern in the dirt with his pick. "Suppose we succeed on our quest. I wonder how we will escape the Ghost Tower's confines. Perhaps we ourselves will become ghosts, trapped forever in this wretched place," he muses. Then he grunts.

    Emyn makes certain the horses have adequate forage and water for two weeks inside the fortress. Well, assuming the horses can ration their food and water.... Once it's set up, he says, "I think we should wait for the ghosts to head down the stair into the basement.]

    [Emyn OOC: The great thing..you don't have to muck out the fortress afterwards, since everything inside is destroyed when the fortress collapses.]

    [DM OOC: Well, you certainly don't have that much food for them. Forage around here is limited. Anyway, it shouldn't really be a problem. You're just going inside the castle....]

    "Let's look around outside a bit," says Noot. "The fresh air will do us good before we go back in that musty old castle."

    "I am worried that if we go into the Ghost Tower that we might be trapped there for some time," says Emyn, a concerned look on his face. "Which could result in the starvation of the mounts."

    Thorgrim scowls. "Emyn, they're just dumb beasts. If you think they would be safer outside than in the Fortress, with all these predators around, then go ahead. If we fail to escape the Ghost Tower, their fate would be the same. A quick death or a slow death, it makes no difference."

    "Let us just head down to the last level while there is still daylight," says Isilme, before the two get into an argument. "Or would you rather face the tormented souls that come to life here at night?"

    "I agree with Isilme," says Elrae quickly. "Let's find out what happened to the kidnapped girl ghost. That seems to be the best clue to what's going on."

    Emyn looks at Thorgrim as though he's been offended. "Since when did you become so callous, Thorgrim, not caring of the suffering of others? You should be ashamed of yourself. I will see to their well being as best I can and then we can move to find Marinessa's ghost." He then turns his back on the dwarf in a clear snub.

    Berenn will cast Create Water and Create Food and Water (Creating Food) for the mounts. "I believe this should keep them feed for the day. Will have to refresh it tomorrow."

    "Thank you Berenn," says Emyn. "I knew that I could count on you to prevent cruelty to our animal companions."

    "Your point is well-taken, Emyn," he begins, thoughtfully. "And I do care about suffering. But the fact remains that horses do not have souls, and therefore must always be less important than creatures that do. I can think of no better way to 'see to their well-being' than keeping them protected inside the Fortress. Have faith--they shall see their masters once again."

    Noot looks at Thorgrim. "Then how do you explain Isilme seeing Isaac in Arvandor?" he says, his face a mixture of sadness and anger as he thinks of his lost ferret companion.

    "Hmm...that is a difficult one," Thorgrim replies. He lets the question hang in the air, rather than distress Noot by discussing it further.

    Emyn looks at Hepla, who shrugs, mumbling, "Whatever," and turns away.

    "I hope I have not done anything to upset you," says Emyn. "If I have, I apologize. I'd like to make things right. I hate to see you sad."

    "Then pay attention to something besides your damned horses," she replies shortly. "It's good you take care of them but pay attention to others too."

    Emyn opens his mouth, but says nothing as Hepla walks away.

    "Come on," says Isilme. "We waste time." She casts Fly, then starts moving towards the castle. Everyone else follows, and the party heads back downstairs.....
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:51 am  
    Part 10 - It's D&D, not CSI!

    So, with that all finished, the party decides to head back downstairs. As soon as Noot opens the locked door in the crypts the four statues in hallway come to life. There is a shifting and grating, as they step out of their niches, swords and shields raised for battle.



    Noot has nothing in hand, having been doing thieving stuff and just opened the door. Thorgrim stands behind him, pick in hand, while Rakk is to his other rear flank, wielding his bastard sword and holding his lantern in the other hand. Rakk sees that there is nothing on the stairs going down. They go down about 20', then turn while they continue down..... There's nothing to fight on the stairs, so he hands Noot the lantern.

    "Stay here," he says, drawing his other blade.

    Further back is Berenn, wielding Bonefire though it's not aflame at the moment. Elrae has Snowfang out, it's blue glow illuminating the area right around him. Vaddara her spear, while Hepla stands beside her, holding her staff. Emyn has his mace out, expecting more skeletons, or worse, and is guarding Vaddara and Hepla. Finally, Isilme has Maerthorlear in hand, but is outside the chamber, using the darkness and her stealth to watch the rear.

    Isilme moves into the chamber, standing next to Noot as she prepares to cast Solvent of Corrosion [couldn't cast this round since she had to move.]

    The columns all move and attack. Hepla is hit for [6] by the one to her right. The one to the far right moves up and attacks Emyn, hitting him [6]. The one to the left moves up and attacks Elrae, slashing him in the hand as he is going for his wand of Earth and Stone, and lopping it off at the wrist [16]! [DM OOC: Time out! Elrae did NOT lose his hand. He had Stoneskin still working. I just checked the notes. So, the blow that would surely have cut off his hand just bounces off.] He draws his wand, steps back 5' (to his current space) and uses the wand. It blows off the thing's hand [16]. Tit for tat!

    The last statue attacks Thorgrim, missing.

    Vaddara casts Sharkbolt, summoning one bolt to attack each creature. Two to the right hit for [8] each on separate statues. The two left ones miss.

    Noot sets down Rakk's lantern and takes out his Rod of Smiting. He then moves up to fight the statue warrior that just cut off Elrae's hand. He put himself between the two, protecting his fallen comrade.

    Emyn pulls Hepla back out of the way, shoving her towards Vaddara. Hepla rolls by Vaddara, landing on the floor in the room behind her. He stands there taking his defensive stance. "Stay back you two!" he yells.

    Rakk attacks with his magical one. He hits with it [15], his sword clanging badly but effectively. Thorgrim hits the one attacking him [15]. He could feel the strain on his weapon, as he swings again, hitting for another [14]. Simultaneously, Berenn ignites Bonefinger and hits the same one, doing another [10], his sword clanging loudly as it strikes. Berenn then hits with his second attack for another [6]. The fires don't seem to have any additional effect.

    That leaves Hepla, who fails her Concentration roll to cast Levitate.

    [Elrae OOC: Jeeze what a roller coaster. Had Elrae lost his hand he'd have to retire, the left hand is critical for playing musical instruments. Good thing Stoneskin was in effect.]

    [Berenn OOC: So close to not having to endure anymore of those damn songs! LOL! This is what I was debating from the start, I thought they were Caryatid Columns and knew about the chance of a weapon breaking. Berenn probably wouldn't have known so he engaged them. After hearing those God awful clangs, he has decided he would like his sword in one piece.]

    Vaddara holds back Ralph, while backing further away. She casts Stone Shape and uses the power of the spell to simply rip the stone construct apart until nothing remains but a pile of rubble! Noot hits his as well, blasting great chunks from the column. [16]

    The columns all attack, hitting three of the sharks with their blows. They are missed in turn.

    Elrae uses his wand, and destroys the one Noot attacked. Thorgrim moves up and destroys the one Rakk hit. Rakk then steps forward and attacks the last one, hitting it three times in quick succession. On his last blow with his MW Broadsword, the blade shatters as the construct breaks apart into harmless rubble.

    Hepla goes to Rakk and says, "Mr. Rakk, I am sorry your sword broke. I have no swords but you may have my Masterwork Dagger." She holds it out to him.

    "Thank you, Lady, but no," he replies. "You may need it. I shall just have to get used to carrying a spare. In the meantime, I have a dagger."

    Thorgrim inspects Souldrinker for cracks and other damage. "Those things were hard to hit," he says. "Our concerted power dealt with them nicely, though. If we encounter the likes again, 'tis doubtful I would use my most prized weapon to fight them. It seems Galap-Dreidel has the power to create all manner of golems. Who knows what horrors lurk in the dungeon below?"

    "Anyone have a wooden stake?" asks Elrae.

    "I do," says Thorgrim. He opens his backpack and retrieves a wooden stake, hammer and spike. He hands the stake to Elrae, then spikes open the door. Once finished, he grunts in satisfaction. "Good to keep our means of egress open to us."

    Thorgrim steps up to Noot. "Noot, can you inspect those stairs and check for traps? It would be just like an evil mage to switch up the pattern and trap a different stair."

    Noot does, finding a mechanical pressure plate trap on the second step, as usual. Avoiding it, the party heads down....



    [DM OOC: Basically, it's a crypts level. There are two side chambers with sarcophagi on each side, and one larger chamber straight ahead, with the primary one. I'll do more with descriptions later, but this is what you'll see.]

    The crypt level is pretty much what it would seem to be, a crypt. As I said, there are 5 tombs, 2 to each side and one ahead. Isilme casts Detect Magic and she spots a dagger on the floor lying on the steps.

    Elrae goes to pick it up, but before he does Snowfang senses evil from it. He draws back and leaves it be. Meanwhile, the others take a look at the other sarcophagi. The names on each of the four tombs is the same, Marinessa Nellithian. However, each has a different date, and they do not really make sense. The four dates are 700, 1119, 1538, and 1957.

    After doing some quick math in her head, Hepla speaks up. "These are all 419 years apart."

    "Very odd," Thorgrim says, scratching his beard. "Does anyone remember the date on the tombstone in the gardens? Perhaps Marinessa's ghost is just some sort of ruse designed to trick us."

    "I believe that was 226," says Noot.

    "Normally I would say leave the tombs in this house of nobility be," says Isilme, "but this mystery needs to be figured out." She then casts "detect undead" and checks each of the tombs. It does not pick up anything. "Noot, please check these tombs for traps," she says. After he clears the first one, (let's start with the oldest), Islme asks Rakk to help her lift the stones off to open it.

    Meanwhile, Vaddara picks up the dagger. She doesn't sense anything strange by doing so. She notices a big hole in the end, where it may have had a gem at one time, but it's missing.

    "This was the dagger that once held the Soul Gem, I should think," says Rakk. "No telling what purpose it serves now."

    "I will put it in may backpack if no one wants to carry it," she says. "Right now it seems harmless, but who knows what activates it."

    Vaddara then puts it in her backpack.

    Looking at the tombs, Emyn says, "I wonder if these other dates are women Galap used as vessels for her ghostly soul? I fear looking in them will release something. Maybe we should wait for the ghost to complete her ritual here before we take any rash steps. It might make the difference between life and death."

    Isilme ignores Emyn fretting like an old woman. "Find your courage paladin; there are no books here."

    Emyn says, "I am no coward but it seems that we are messing with things that we do not understand...I do wish at times we would show more collective wisdom in our actions."

    Emyn stands ready for whatever doom is about to beset the party. He prays to Trithereon that they wil remain safe.

    The larger sarcophagus is actually open, but there's no body within. Noot looks around for traps and such on all of them but finds nothing either.

    "An open sarcophagus with no body," says Elrae. "Be on the lookout for a vampire... or a lich," Elrae states as he grips his trusted blade tightly. "Are all weapons considered evil, in the sense that they are created for the sole purpose of killing another being? Or is it the person who wields the instrument of death and his or her deeds determine what is evil or good. There is much to think about, right Snowfang."

    Isilme and Rakk prepare to open one of the other sarcophagi. "The Dead should be left where they lie," says Berenn. "Disturbing the physical will surely bring the wrath of the restless spirits on us."

    "Four different coffins, the same person in each?" says Rakk dubiosly. "Would we bring down one spirit or four? Or are there others laid within who are thus made nameless for their rest? How do we check if not by opening them? Or are three empty?"

    Berenn shrugs, not sure of the answer. "Let's go," says Isilme, and her and Rakk pick up the lid and slide it aside. Inside are the skeletal remains of an elf woman. Isilme says a prayer over the remains to rest in peace, and they replace the lid. They repeat the process on the other sarcophagi, and they all have skeletal remains of an elven woman.

    [Sirenia OOC: look like the same skeleton multuple times ? ]

    [DM OOC: Not sure how you could tell that. It's D&D, not CSI!]

    [Rakk OOC: Are they at least the same size?]

    After careful examinations of the bodies, they all seem very similar in size. Thorgrim actually takes out some of his carpentry tools (assume he's got something akin to an ancient tape measure?) and finds that all the bodies are the same size and build.

    "I think perhaps the soul gem was being used to move from body to body over time," says Isilme. "Or perhaps this "clone" that was spoken of was resting in the empty tomb? Clearly we don't have all the pieces of the puzzle, but something sinister went on in this house. We have a few more hours until sunset; why don't the Mages check the library, while the rest of the group searches the master bedroom more thoroughly. Perhaps we could also check the outside grounds like the garden and kennels, if that is your preference."

    "Well," answers Rakk, "seeing as we have cleared our path as much as we are able, then looking at the third floor for additional clues seems in order. Hopefully, we can follow the ghost's trail without problems tonight."

    Emyn is relieved that nothing ill happened. He says, "I wonder if Markessa is his next victim with how much she appears to look like Marinessa. Or worse, might she become a vessel for Galap herself? A whole line of elven women doomed to a terrible fate. Though Markessa is undoubtedly evil, even that fate would be too cruel for her."

    "Perchance, he makes copies of her," says Rakk, "all doomed to die at the same age."

    The party will eventually have spent a good hour down here. They discovered nothing else and have found no secret doors or compartments. They then decide head upstairs, specifically to the library, and continue their search up there. It's going to take a couple of hours to search it thoroughly. In so doing you find a lot of pretty decent books and a lot of scrolls (not magical ones, but just, it's an ancient library which means it's mainly scrolls). The scrolls are pretty hard to deal with as they fall apart so easily. However, you find a bunch of good books from 3-500 years old. They cover a lot of the history of the last 1000 years as well as some travel journals, and you can collect much of them if you wish. You also find 6 magical scrolls, hidden away in all the other scrolls (I'm sure you cast a Detect Magic in here. I know you did before, but Hepla ran out to help Emyn and you never went back in.)

    [DM OOC: most the books will be useful for campaign history and adventure hooks, and are not going to be germane to the adventure. However, they will be useful in other areas and at other times. I figure out what they are later.]

    You have one hour until sundown.....
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    Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:28 am  
    Part 11 - Hotel California

    Now that they have searched the library, the party decides to head downstairs. After another fruitless trip to check out the gardens and kennels, they return to the manor. Their intent is to follow the ghost of Marinessa when she reappears, but for now they are not sure of what to do. They have a few hours before that occurs again, if they are correct in assuming the scene will repeat. Hepla casts Polymorph, changing into a pixie, followed by Invisibility.

    While the party waits at the foot of the stairs, a huge man with short cropped hair, pale blue eyes, and a butler's suit is suddenly standing there. Nobody saw him come in, but now he's there.

    "Ho, Strange One," calls Thorgrim, "Have you come to lead us to your master?"

    The man stares at Thorgrim, taking in the party as well. "We get few travelers," he says in a deep voice. "I am Karl," he continues, giving a slight bow. Though seemingly quite proper, nevertheless, there is an air of danger around him.

    In a little pixie voice Hepla says, "A pleasure to meet you Mr. Karl, I hope you understand that I cannot appear before you but I am invisible and wish to remain so. This is some house you have here. Are you its master or whom would you be serving. My name is Hepla."

    "I am Thorgrim, and these are my companions," Thorgrim replies, giving a small bow in return. "We have never traveled these paths before. This mansion is wondrous."

    "How long have you been here Karl?" asks Berenn.

    He nods to the group. "I have always been here, it seems," he replies. "Come, I'll show you to the guest rooms. Then I shall inform Lord Tregas that we have visitors."

    "Anyone remember who Lord Tregas is?" whispers Berenn to the others.

    "Yes," replies Emyn quickly. "Lord Tregas Dardel, wasn't he the one who built this castle in the first place? He died just after the family moved into the castle."

    Everyone looks at Emyn like he has lobsters coming out of his ears, surprised that he remembered that.

    "I am here to see the mistress of the house," says Isilme. [Isilme OOC: does he detect as evil?]

    The man looks at Emyn, confused. "Dead? Oh no, my Lord is very much alive. He has balls here often, tonight in fact. Please, I'll show you to your rooms. You can come to the ball later." He looks you over again, "and please, put away your weapons. You've no use for them here."

    [DM OOC: Yes, Isilme detects evil.]

    "Didn't the Lord tell you?" asks Emyn. "He's hired us to act as security for the ball. There have been rumblings of someone who might wish to interrupt the festivities and we have been engaged to protect the guests."

    "Well," he says, starting to sound a bit impatien. "He didn't tell me." He points to the west corridor, "Come, let me show you to your rooms."

    "Emyn, that was clever of you," Thorgrim whispers. Then, in a louder voice, "Shall we follow?" Thorgrim moves to follow.

    Noot sidles over to the wall and blends into the shadows. He will stay with the group but stay out of sight as much as possible.

    "None of this seems right," says Berenn. "Most hauntings like this don't allow for things to be added or subtracted from the script. We need to be very cautious ... all my instincts tell me this is wrong."

    Nevertheless, the party follows. Hepla hangs back and watchs the party and Karl. Karl leads them around to the west corridor, then shows them to guest rooms. [OOC: Yes, you've been there before, just after dark yesterday.]

    "Karl, can you tell us how long ago this mansion was built?" asks Rakk. "The stonework is unfamiliar," Rakk says, looming over the man.

    He answers the question about the mansion's construction. "Oh, it was only finished last year," he replies.

    He puts you up in three rooms, though Ralph has to go back outside. "Can't have pets in the manor," he says.

    "Not a problem," says Rakk. He goes outside with Ralph.

    Karl eyes Rakk suspiciously as he leaves. Then, once everyone enters their rooms, he leaves.

    "I have business with the lady of the house," says Isilme again. "A message from Celene, I can wait here until she is available to meet, We elves are patient. I won't be needing a room as I won't be staying the evening."

    Isilme remains outside her room, waiting for an answer, but Karl ignores her and leaves. Isilme then follows him back around the corner, and there's nobody there. She then heads outside to join Rakk, humming a tune....

    "Last thing I remember, I was running for the door,
    I had to find the passage back to the place I was before,
    "Relax," said Karl, "We are programmed to receive,
    You can check out anytime you like... but you can never leave."


    Since the party had already checked out the guest rooms, and nothing happened when they "played along," with this ghost, they shortly leave the chambers. The party gathers back up by the front door. The sun is setting, and looking around it almost seems the house itself is changing, becoming more sinister. Or maybe it's just a trick of their imagination. Outside, the same transformation seems to occur, with the trees and shrubs taking on a dead, haunted look....

    "Let us head to the stair where Marinessa's ghost disappeared the night before," suggests Emyn.

    "I'm thinking we should try where we first saw her appear," says Rakk, "so we can pick up the early parts of the events. So the top of the stairs on the first floor may be the place to wait. Though we could have some wait at the secret staircase as well."

    The ball doesn't begin again, though you could swear you hear ghostly music playing.

    "I think we should avoid witnessing the macabre event again," says Berenn. "It seemed to have a negative effect on some of us. Perhaps there is another location we can't wait for the ghost to appear."

    [Berenn OOC: I have read up on the horror effect, but what wasn't explained in great detail is how to remove it. Personally, I don't think it would be good to have Emyn throwing a fit every time he sees a book. I assume this is more psychological which would mean the more intelligence or wisdom a character has, the easier it should be to come to grips with what they witnessed (Emyn might be screwed here). I also can't wait for whatever triggers Rakk's rage ... a bull in china shop shouldn't even begin to cover this experience.]

    [DM OOC: Well, it IS Goldie role-playing it!]

    [Rakk OOC: Usually it's trolls, but he's done the berzerk thing at least twice that I recall. It ain't pretty.]

    The party waits, and in another hour the sun totally sets.

    "The time is nigh..." Thorgrim whispers. He keeps a lookout in all directions.

    "Maybe we should go back to the fortress and explore during daylight hours," says Vaddara.

    "We're here to follow the ghost," says Emyn quickly.

    "Sorry," she replies. "I completely forgot. This place makes me jumpy and apparently absent minded."

    The party waits around for a bit, before realizing that Rakk hasn't come inside. Either that or he slipped back out when they weren't looking. Isilme is gone too. The party quickly heads back outside where Rakk was last going with Ralph. Once outside, they look around but see nobody.

    Emyn says, "Rakk's huge feet should be easy to track, right Berenn?"

    Berenn nods, noting some large footprints. Rakk went around the east side of the building. Isilme's tracks disappear, so you assume she cast Fly (SOP for her) and flew off. The party follows the trail around the corner and sees Isilme and Rakk off by the stables/kennels talking to a young man.

    [DM OOC: Darn, lost a bunch more PMs.]

    Basically, you learn that this ghost isn't evil, just mischevous, as he was when alive. He was killed a LONG time ago. You learn that Karl is clearly a ghost as well, since he was alive 600 years ago too! This ghost can control animals. Unfortunately, he cannot control the ghost dogs which terrorize him nightly, ripping him apart again and again. He also warns you of Karl, who is a most evil and heartless man, or ghost. He looks sad, then fades away.

    "I thought that Karl seemed sinister...well, more than most ghosts. Let us be wary," Thorgrim says.

    "Now where is that elf lady ghost," says Elrae. "I really want to know what happened to her. Though I can use my imagination that it wasn't pretty."

    When the party goes back inside, the ghostly dance is going on again.....
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    Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:24 am  
    Part 12 - Revelations

    The party watches the strange events unfold again, but this time they are not so shocked. They also stay out of it, knowing that they cannot change it, and that it can, in fact, be dangerous to interfere.

    ""These ghosts seemed forced to follow the same dance every night," says Isilme. "We should wait; Marinessa will come."

    "Good idea," says Thorgrim, looking around. However, he heads to the foot of the stairs in the ballroom. Thorgrim doesn't really care to re-experience that horrifying banquet.

    After a while, the banquet ends. The ghost of Marinessa never reappears as she did the night before.

    "Maybe we messed things up by taking that dagger," says Emyn. "Maybe that was an important part of whatever ghostly ritual she was performing last night."

    "You may be right," says the invisible Hepla.

    The party gathers downstairs and eventually heads back to the basement crypts. There they replace the dagger, before slipping back into the side burial chambers. Eventually, after a few hours, they see Marinessa's ghost appearing, carried by the cloaked figure they had noted before. She is awake as they enter, and the man grabs the woman roughly, pushing her ahead of him and into the dark. Macabre spectral torches alight, bathing the area is an eerie glow.

    He ties the woman to a chair, pouring something into her mouth. The figure then walks to the great stone coffin and removes its lid. Though the body inside shows little signs of decay, it is in six separate pieces: head, torso, and four limbs. The man arranges the pieces and begins a strange ritual that involves smearing unguents and ointments on the partially mummified corpse.

    The body begins to come together. Sinews knit and bond. Broken, dried sections of skin swell and course together. Even toe and fingernails begin to grow, as bones increase in strength. The kidnapper unties the now listless woman before dragging her to the side of the coffin where he draws a knife with a bright red gemstone in the hilt. It is an exact match to the one they found before. He bends her over the side of the sarcophagus, and slits her throat with the razor-edged blade. Her free hand rips the hood off the man, and you see a face you recognize from the pictures, the face of Chadath.

    Her blood gushes over the side and onto the quivering corpse, and the woman quickly stops struggling, her body going limp. The dreadful act consummated, Chardath throws the knife to the floor where you found it. You don't know if it was there a moment ago, but it's there now. The woman then falls to the ground as the corpse in the coffin convulses, spasming itself into an upright position. It too wears the face of the man you know as ďChardath.Ē

    Isilme casts Wraithfrom. When Hepla sees this, she is about to do so as well, but Rakk stops her. "Let us see how Isilme does before more join her. Too many too soon may just crowd the field."

    "What fresh horror is this?" Thorgrim whispers, backing away from the scene. "It confirms my suspicions that Chardath is some sort of lich, though I know not the significance of the duplicate. Reminds me of Markessa though. Or perhaps the other is another of his Golems?" Thorgrim shudders, then steps forward for a closer look.

    "A disgusting act of evil," agrees Elrae. "That poor girl, sacrificed to bring back a lich. No wonder her spirit haunts these walls. What a sorrowful story. Do you think that the red gem in the hilt of the dagger is the soul gem we've been looking for? Perhaps we should reunite the two and see if it can suck the soul out of Chardath. Then perhaps the girl's ghost will find peace."

    As the party is discussing things, the scene then continues. As the dagger clattered to the floor, its blood-red hilt-stone escaped its setting, flew across the room, and rolled to a stop against the far wall. The dead Chardath's body convulsed, spasming into an upright position, and then back down. His eyes snapped open, large and red. The living Chardath, leapt backwards, tripped, and landed on the floor. The dead Chardath pushed Marinessa's corpse off to the side like an old, unwanted blanket and stood up, crimson blood slaking off him like the waters of a cold shower. He sneered at his double, whose eyes were now larger than gold pieces. ď "Thank you," he said, floating out of the sarcophagus and across the floor. He snatched the slim silver tome from Chardath. "You are dismissed," he said, offhand, continuing across the floor. "And take that refuse with you," he added, pointing at Marinessa's bloody remains. He then floated across the chamber, picked up the gem, and disappeared. A scream then erupted from Chardath who knelt above Marinessa's body, crying, as the scene faded away.

    Emyn clutches the witch bag Hepla had given him reflexively and says, "So it appears that Galap possessed Chardath like a ghost so he could come back to life. This gem must have somehow allowed that transfer of souls. We must take care not to touch it or allow ourselves to be harmed by a weapon in which it is mounted. I fear we must now enter the true ghost tower at the top of those stairs and pursue Galap and the gem."

    Emyn clutches the witch bag reflexively and says, "So it appears that Galap possessed Chardath like a ghost so he could come back to life...this gem must have somehow allowed that transfer of souls. We must take care not to touch it or allow ourselves to be harmed by a weapon in which it is mounted. I fear we must now enter the true ghost tower at the top of those stairs and pursue Galap and the gem."

    [EMYN OOC: I know probably not because the DM prefers this not to happen because it would mamke it easier to pursue the guy but I have to ask...given what we just witnessed, is it appropriate to invoke the Pursuit of Vengeance for this heinous crime? It may have happened many years ago but that makes the act no less evil and Marinessa (and even Chardath) should be avenged.]

    [DM OOC: Yes, you may do so.]

    Emyn feels the charged power of Trithereon flow through him. However, he senses no direction towards his quarry. As he stands there frustrated, Marinessa's ghost appears before him. With a clear view, finally, everyone can see that she is clearly not Markessa. However, she is an elf, and the resemblance is uncanny.

    She looks at Emyn, speaking softly, "You will not find Galap-Dreidel on this plane, Avenger. He resides now only in his tower."

    "How might we enter the tower," asks Emyn quickly, before the ghost disappears. "And how might we release you from your torment? Who is he, and is there a way to destroy him forever?"

    "Galap-Dreidel was a powerful Ur-Flan sorcerer," she says, "and the gem increased his power beyond anything mortal. His only true...weakness was his...love...for me...." She seems to stumble on her words, and it's clear she has a hard time talking about that.

    She then recovers and adds, "The tower appears in the fog. Then you may enter up the grand stairs. You must take the gem from Galap, and end his torment."

    Elrae goes to wall where the image of the red hilt stone last appeared and draws Snowfang hoping to detect magic. "Perhaps the hilt stone and dagger is the key to entering the Ghost Tower of Galap-Dreidel. We must find it. Even though it might be the doom of us all." Unfortunately, there's nothing there, as the raised Chardath picked up the gem before he disappeared. Meanwhile, Rakk picks up the dagger and places it in his bag.

    "Take care with that," Marinessa's ghost says to Rakk when he picks up the dagger. "It is deadly, and you will surely have need of it."

    Isilme in wraithform offers the letter to Marinessa. "Your friend Haganor is here in eternal torment, because there is no way for you to get this letter and his warning. I have come into your world to offer this letter and both of you some peace, it is clear he cared for you deeply. As a bladesinger, it is my duty to help all elves where I can, and to right injustices to our people....I promise I will do all I can to avenge the horror that elves suffered here."

    She cries about Haganor. In essence, that's probably not enough to save him, as what happened here, and to him, was so brutal. Plus, as long as Marinessa is still stuck here, he will be as well. She then shares her own story.

    "I was born long ago, in the elven kingdom of Celene, during the reign of Lady Mehrinduril Galathaldal . I was the lover of the Ur-Flan wizard, Galap-Dreidel, who stayed with the elves during his rise to power. I told him of the lost city, which led to his defeat of Pyaray and his acquisition of the Soul Gem nearly three thousand years ago, an act which eventually led to the city's fall. His power grew quickly after seizing the Soul Gem, and he was eventually forced to leave the elves, who had grown wary of him. When he left Celene to return across the sea, I went with him."

    "We met up with Pyaray," says Hepla, shivering. "Somewhat nasty fellow who has given us a year to get the spell stone back to him or he takes may fiancee's soul for all eternity. Difficult situation as far as what to do, if we can even get it back."

    "You seem to have greater freedom of movement and will then most," says Isilme. "It may not save Haganor, but it may comfort him if you visit his room and show him you got the letter, now that you know of his fate."

    The ghost seems to nod, though it's hard to say. She seems lost.

    "There is also an evil elvish Mage committing terrible crimes against the elves, and she resembles you," says Isilme. "Many of these crimes starting around the age of your death. Do you know who or what this might be?"

    "I was the first," she says, as if that explanation is enough.

    "I'm sorry, m'lady," says Rakk. "I am a little slow. The first what?"

    "The first...me," she says. "I do not understand myself, but I have seen many copies of myself, sacrificed to the Soul Gem."

    In elvish Hepla says, "Dear lady, what would you have us do?"

    "Free me," she says. "Free all of us." Marinessa's ghost then slowly fades away to nothing.

    "We will endeavor to bring this horrid cycle to an end," pledges Berenn solemnly.

    "Come, let us leave this ghost to her sorrows," Thorgrim says, sheathing his pick. "All we need is a good fog."

    The party then leaves the manor, heads back out to Thorgrim's fortress, and awaits a fog.....
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    Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:16 pm  
    Part 13 - The Ghost Tower

    Waterday, 26th Ready'reat (581 CY)
    The party spends the rest of the evening in Thorgrim's fortress, sounds of dogs barking in the night haunting their rest. As morning comes, a mist begins to appear. Gradually, it thickens to a very dense fog. In the distance, looking out from the top of Thorgrim's fortress, Hepla sees the image of a tower appear in the center of the keep, reaching up into the sky.



    [DM OOC: I am healing everyone as well as restoring all spells. Isilme also found that she could use Maerthorlear's Emotion power to undo the effects of the horrors from the previous days. She tried it first on Emyn, and it worked. I figured Emyn would be the logical first choice. So, if she wants to do it again, she can, but I'll let her decide. That was a bit of a retroactive use of the power for the day before, which doesn't actually hurt anything because it's now the next day. However, I wouldn't want to use it on a current day unless I had to.]

    Hepla says, "I found the tower, lets move to it." She is up and heading to the stairs.

    Emyn already has his preferred approach stated. Avoid combat and deception. Try to resolve this as peacefully as possible as fighting this individual may be more than we can manage, especially on his home turf. Emyn is ready to climbs the stairs to nowhere.

    "I feel Trithereon's call within me to right these wrongs," he says. "Vengeance must be brought upon those responsible for this so they may face their own personal judgment before the gods. But there are many ways to bring someone to justice. Mercy can be a weapon just as sharp as a sword. Let us enter the Tower and convince Kartak the clone to willingly surrender his physical life so that he and the others here may be granted peace or a chance of redemption. Fighting him head on or trying to trick him would be folly, as we have seen from those who have tried it before."

    "How on earth are we going to accomplish that?" Thorgrim asks.

    "Through patience and reason," replies Emyn, with uncharacteristic thought. "We need to give him something in return, like a negotiation. He has to gain something of value as well. It will not be easy but it is the wisest solution, I believe."

    "I doubt he will be willing to give up his half-life through some sort of diplomacy," answers Berenn. "The good news is he is not a full lich or something worse. The only way to end this nightmare is to end Kartak's clone."

    "We lose nothing by trying," replies Emyn. "It may be that there is something he wants and we might be able to help him get it."

    Elrae casts Stoneskin on himself, then signs a song of encouragement:

    Heart donít fail me now, courage donít desert me, donít turn back now that weíre here.
    People always say, life is full of choices, no one ever mentions fear.
    Or how our world can seem so long, how the world can seem so vast.
    Courage see me through, heart Iím trusting you, on this journey to the past.
    Somewhere down this road, I know someoneís waiting, years of dreams just canít be wrong.
    Arms will open wide, Iíll be safe and wanted, finally home where I belong.
    Well starting here my life begins, starting now Iím learning fast.
    Courage see me through, heart Iím trusting you on this journey to the past.
    Heart donít fail me now, courage donít desert me.
    Home, love, family there was once a time I must have had them to.
    Home, love, family I will never be complete until I find you.
    Heeey. One step at a time, one hope then another, who knows where this road may go.
    Back to who I was, on to find my future, things my heart still needs to know.
    Yes let this be a sign, let this road be mine, let it lead me to my past.
    Courage see me through, heart Iím trusting you, to bring me home, at laaaaaast,
    Laaaaaaaaaaaaast, ooh (courage see me through heart Iím trusting you)
    hey yeaa


    He then draws Snowfang, feeling the reassuring weight in his hand lends him extra strength. Islme cast Stoneskin before sleeping, and now casts "fly" and "invisibility." She too has her sword in hand, comforted by Maerthorlear's steady humming in her mind. Isilme also unravels her scroll and speaks words that seem oddly comforting in Drow, casting "Restoration" on Hepla and restoring her lost level. She then hands Emyn her magic longsword, the sheath decorated with scenes from the defeat of the Temple of Elemental Evil. "To protect Hepla," she says, as Emyn takes it. "This is a weapon of my church," she adds, "and can be recalled. I doubted your intentions for some time, but you have surprised me."

    "Thank you, Isilme," says Emyn. "I will treat the sword with the honour befitting Elistraee."

    The party exits the fortress, which Thorgrim leaves up for the horses. At the entrance to the manor, Vaddara casts Protection from Evil 10'r. The party members gather around her as they head up the stairs. Within minutes, they find themselves at the top stairs. Rather than ending at the roof, the stairs now continue up into darkness....

    Vaddara casts Continual Light upon her shield, which illuminates the stairs completely. The light lends sudden comfort to the party.

    "We've faced, demons, dragons, gods even, but never a soul sucking lich," warns Elrae. "Tread lightly my friends and be ready for anything."

    "It seems from what we have learned that the mage has gone insane through his experiences and evolutions of this "clone". If we can somehow get him to imbibe the Elixer of Health, it would restore his sanity, and perhaps help him to fully realize and understand what has happened to him and his beloved. Perhaps he will allow us to return the soul gem of his own accord"

    Berenn laughs. "I doubt that will happen."

    [Isilme OOC: I certainly went crazy trying to understand the convoluted storyline!]

    [DM OOC: Yeah, the hard part is putting together all the info you get at various times. You were also lacking certain things, which I decided to give you via Marinessa's ghost. So, at least you'd understand what had happened.]

    The party heads up the stairs and find themselves in a large, empty chamber. It is perfectly round, with no exits. On the tiled floor across the chamber is a large magical circle in the floor.



    "Might that be a portal like we saw in the Temple of Elemental Evil?" wonders Emyn aloud.

    "To where?" asks Noot.

    "And what if it goes nowhere?" asks Berenn, who then laughs. "I guess it will be our chance to get away from it all!"

    The party all stands in the circle. There is a swirling of cloudy colors, and SWOOSH! Suddenly the party finds itself in another chamber. It is a half-circle, with a circle in the floor as well. There are no windows, but two sliding doors are on the straight wall. Standing before each door is a four-armed skeleton, swords held menacingly. The heads swivel towards you as the swords are raised.



    Isilme appears in view when the transportation is over.

    [Vaddara OOC: I sure hope my prot vs evil 10ft is still up!]

    [DM OOC: Yes, all your spells have ended. I looked to see if you would know that or not, and I didn't find anything. However, I believe we set a precedent long ago that you guys would know when things like this happen.]

    "This wizard has a tower where time stands still and he's messing with undead....what an amateur," Isilme chuckles, though she is none too happy about the cancelled magic. She then speaks to the skeletons, "Your unholy existence must come to an end."

    Vaddara casts Magic Missile, blasting the nearest skeleton [12]. Berenn holds forth his holy symbol, calling upon St. Cuthbert's aid, but to no avail.

    The two skeletons step forward and attack. Vaddara is his three times [8, 7, and 1: total of 16] Elrae is hit once [5] and Rakk is hit twice [6, and 3: total 9]

    Noot and Elrae step back, staying out of the way, as Thorgrim and Rakk move forward. Rakk hits twice in quick succession, the blows from his swords just bouncing off the hardened skeletons without seeming to affect them. The same holds true with Thorgrim's pick. Isilme finds that Maerthorlear is equally uselesss, glancing harmlessly off the skeleton's skull after she deals it a direct hit!

    Ralph attempts to leap onto the one skeleton fighting Thorgrim and Vaddara, but the skeleton fends off the wolf with a slash of a couple swords. Emyn takes out his mace, and moves steps up in front of Hepla. "Get back," he says to Vadarra.

    Isilme disengages from the skeleton, casting Protection from Undead 10'. "Gather around me!" she cries.

    Elrae and Noot both move up close to Isilme, Elrae singing while Noot takes out his Rod of Smiting. Vaddara also backs up, pulling Ralph with her, while Hepla casts Magic Missile at the same one Vaddara attacked, her missiles streaking unerringly into it for [12: Wow, bad roll!].

    Rakk puts away his sword and pulls out his bag of holding, only to find that inside it is just a normal bag! As he stares within the bag for a moment uncomprehending, the skeleton delivers its full attack against him, apparently unaffected by Isilme's spell. Rakk takes two hits [4 and 4: total 8]. The other skeleton attacks Thorgrim, hitting him twice [2 and 2: total 4], but is itself tripped up and knocked down. This gives Thorgrim a free shot as he drops his pick and takes out his hammer, swinging it down at the skeleton's head. It just bounces off, not affecting it in the least!

    Emyn moves up and attacks the skeleton on the ground at Thorgrim's feet, but misses. Finally, Berenn draws Bonefire, but when he tries to ignite the sword, nothing happens!

    Isilme moves back to the rear of the party, watching as Berenn casts Holy Orb on the one to the "north." The blast of righteous energy doesn't slow it down at all. Emyn attempts to leap atop the skeleton, but he is hit and knocked away by a sword stroke [8]. Thorgrim steps back and casts Spiritual Hammer. The wave of force hammers the skull of the skeleton as it stands, and a sharp CRACK! is heard and it blows a chunk of bone away [5]. This is simultaneous with Vaddara, who casts Nytul's Lightburst. A blinding light flashes in the room, leaving everyone temporarily blinded (except Vaddara who closed her eyes!).

    While unable to see, Noot moves along the back wall, trying to blink his vision back. Eventually he reaches the northern corner, and there he stops, staying quiet. Rakk attacks, but is unable to hit the skeleton which hits him three times [3,5, and 2: total of 10]. Emyn is then hit again [6] while Thorgrim takes two sword strikes [5 and 2: total of 7].

    Hepla began to cast Levitate, but she could not target the skeleton while blinded, and her spell fizzles. [That's a missed Concentration check!] Elrae also loses his spell, unable to target with the Magic Missile so it too fizzles [And another!].

    "Give us a heads up before you go blinding us!" yells Elrae.

    While most of the party does nothing this round, Rakk attacks blindly, thrashing around for the skeleton. He fails to grab it, but takes a a series of slashes for his trouble [5, 1, and 3: total 9]. The other skeleton hits Emyn once [3]. Thorgrim misses with his hammer. After the round ends, everyone can see again.

    Elrae and Vaddara both cast Magic Missiles at the one fighting Rakk, hitting it for [13 and 9: 22 total].

    The skeletons continue their attacks. Rakk is hit twice [4 and 6: 10 total]. Emyn is also hit twice [8 and 1: 9 total].

    Noot steps up behind the skeleton and hits it in the back of the head with his Rod of Smiting. The skull explodes under the impact, and the entire skeleton tumbles to the ground in a pile of bones! [rolled a 20 with Rod of Smiting, destroying it.] Thorgrim continues to attack with his spiritual hammer, hitting again for [5]. Isilme, who was about to cast Grease, holds her spell. Seeing Thorgrim's success, Berenn and Vaddara cast Spiritual Hammer as well, hitting the thing for [5] each as well. They are blasting chunks of bone from it with each blow! Only a few more blows from the combined spells, and the thing is finally destroyed.



    Here's a map, though there is no door there to the left. Sorry, using a map from another source, and that door doesn't exist. I just didn't bother painting over it, though that's why I put the light there. There are only two doors on the east wall, which I think you can see. Noot finds no traps or locks, though the doors do not open. Isilme casts Knock, and the doors slide open revealing a waiting room. Wall sconces along the central wall provide light for a comfortable chamber, warmed by two lit fireplaces. There are a couple of tables, along with a sitting area to the right side. A wide staircase leads up to another floor, two large manticore statues perched to either side of the stairs.


    Last edited by ragnar on Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Mon Dec 15, 2014 2:47 pm  
    Part 13 - Not everything is a trick!

    After the fight with the skeletal guardians, whatever they were, the party was a bit shaken. With all their protections gone as well as most of their magic non-functioning, they didn't know what to do. They cast a series of healing spells to deal with the effects of the short but deadly fight, before moving forward.

    "Let's wait a moment before entering," says Thorgrim. "And beware those 'statues.' Rakk, perhaps you should check your Bag of Holding again. The effects of teleportation may have been temporary."

    He looks inside, but it still doesn't work.

    "It might be the tower itself that is causing the magic to fail," says Berenn. "If we have been moved to another plane by entering this part of the tower, our magic may not work here as it should. I suggest we check the room while watching the statues."

    [Vaddara OOC: I sure hope that's not the case. Thats going to completely eliminate any help hepla and I can give the group.]

    "I suspect a pocket universe with evil tendencies," says Hepla. "Magic spells work, as do some clerical magic but not spells that need to access another plane. I have not tested my staff yet and I hope to not have to."

    "I suspect an affect of the timelessness of this place we were told about," says Isilme. "It would explain why all our spells ended, and unless I am mistaken, why spell of only immediate action without duration are the only ones that work. I could be wrong though. Remember this is his home, treat it with respect, we are not here to ransack it like common thieves. The fact the guards attacked us and we were forced to defend ourselves was regrettable but unavoidable."

    Emyn agrees, "We should take no offensive action that might anger him." He then shouts, "Lord Galap Driedel, we would treat with you!"

    Thorgrim grunts, as Berenn looks at Emyn. "You are worried about offending him? We have killed his guards and invaded his home. How do think he's going to react? It is safe to say when he finds out we are here, he isn't going to be happy! It is also quite possible we will not be able to return to these rooms later; we should conduct a search of this room. It may have information or things of value."

    Emyn then realizes something, he can sense the fury of Trithereon's holy vengeance calling him again, upstairs. His quarry lies there, somewhere.... His instinct is to rush the stairs, but he sees a look of unease on Hepla's face and remembers his vow to her and Isilme too. He swallows hard and simply tells the others what he can sense. He clearly is holding back his righteous anger while the others search the chamber.

    They look around the room, but don't find anything hidden. All seems to be just what it is. The rod on the desk is a bit strange. It is about a 5' long metal rod of black, lusterless color. One end is rounded, about 2" across, while the other tapers nearly to a point, barely more than a man's little finger. with a series of 7 words inscribed along its length: "Ruat," "Coelum," "Fiat," "Justitia," "Ecce," "Lex," and and "Rex."

    Isilme takes the rod in her other hand; she's surprised how heavy it is, about 10 pounds. "This should be useful. Looks like the command words are on it at least."

    Elrae whispers, "The Rod of Seven Parts," making everyone turn towards him. He then tells you the tale of it, at least what he knows about it:

    "Eons ago, a great war was waged between the Wind Dukes of Aaqa (the guardians of Law) and the Queen of Chaos. Those polar forces each craved the annihilation of the other, and were so obsessed with enforcing their ideologies that they spared no thought for Good and Evil. For many years the balance of power shifted back and forth, and neither side could achieve the upper hand.

    Then the Queen of Chaos found and appointed a new commander: Miska the Wolf- Spider, who was so brutal and terrible to behold that the Queen also took him for her consort. With the arrival of the evil Miska, the forces of Chaos were bolstered and the Wind Dukes began to fear eventual defeat.

    Therefore, they left the Captains of Law to hold the line while they combined all of their powers and created a magnificent ebony rod. With the newly created artifact in hand, the Wind Dukes rejoined the war at the battle of Pesh. The Dukes gave the Rod to the Captains of Law and bade them vanquish Chaos.

    A fearsome battle raged for weeks, and the advantage shifted repeatedly between the foes. Finally, the Captains of Law surrounded the Wolf-Spider, and before the legions of Chaos could swarm to their leader's side, the Rod was driven through Miska's body. For a moment, every soldier stood terrified by the horrible scream of the general. Miska's foul blood cov- ered the Rod and penetrated it as he writhed on the ground, and the magical forces of Law that had been infused into the Rod were combined with the essence of Chaos in Miska's blood, which ruptured the Rod and shattered it into seven pieces. Meanwhile, the Wolf-Spider was cast through a planar rip created by the explosion, and he remains lost on an unknown plane. The Queen's soldiers converged upon the site in an attempt to capture the parts of the Rod, but the Wind Dukes intervened and magically scattered the pieces across the world.

    Ever since that time, agents of the Queen have been ordered to seek out the Rod at any cost. It is rumored that if she regains all the parts, she can use the reconstructed Rod to find the Wolf-Spider and return him to her side, whereupon the wars will begin anew."

    "A replica?" asks Berenn. "The parts of the rod were scattered. If not, Galap Driedel went through a lot of trouble to resemble the rod. Why would have leave it unprotected?"

    [Berenn OOC: And why would our DM suddenly drop an artifact into our laps?]

    Isilme hands the "replica" to Berenn. "As an agent of the forces of law, this would be best suited to your hands. Remember, all artifacts come with a price, as my dealings with the Orb of Golden Death taught me." Isilme then turns to the rest. "I am worried that we have no way of getting to that dagger if it's in the portable hole, and the ghost said it was important."

    "Rakk has it," says Thorgrim. He then looks at Rakk. "Rakk, tell me you still have that dagger on your person," Thorgrim says.

    Rakk turns, and Thorgrim sees it on his belt. "Right here," he says, putting a hand on it.

    "Perhaps the rod allows safe passage between the manticore golems of death," Isilme wonders.

    "Shall we climb the stairs, then? What's our strategy? Wait a minute." Thorgrim attempts to open his Portable Hole, but it still doesn't work. He mumbles under his breath as he folds it up and tucks it back in his boot.

    "Might as well see if it does anything or it's just a "replica" right?" says Isilme. She takes the rod and points it up the stairway focusing and yelling each command word in succession and pausing to see effect. When nothing happens, she returns it to Berenn.

    Hepla, looking at the rod, casts Detect Magic. The rod is not magical. No magic shows up except the fireplaces with some kind of illusory magic. They're just fake fireplaces, to make you feel cozy while you wait. The only other magis is the hammer-shaped essences of force from Berenn and Thorgrim's Spiritual Hammers which have not expired yet so they hover in front of them. None of the party's magic items shows any magic.

    "I guess it's good that I put away my best weapon," says Thorgrim. "Unfortunately, it's in the Hole, which may never be useable again..." His voice trails off into another unintelligible dwarven muttering.

    "Well, seems fairly obvious," says Emyn, who cautiously starts up the stairs. The manticores do NOT come to life [SURPRISE!]. You come up the stairs into another large chamber. This one is a dining room. A large wooden table dominates the room, which also contains a grand piano and small sitting area by a large fireplace. A log burns in the fireplace. There are some shelves and such around the outside walls, as well as a large glass snake statue to the south. Also, glass windows provide light from four openings, and a balcony extends out of the tower on the west side. A railing surrounds the area where the stairs descend, wrapping around the three open sides, while a small stone circular stairway in the north part of the chamber winds up to another level.



    Berenn goes over to one of the windows and looks out, keeping an eye on the statue. Outside the windows, Berenn sees mostly fog. Beyond it, he sees the nearby hills; however, the hills don't look normal. It's like they are faded, though it could just be the fog.....

    When Isilme gets up there, she says that the only magic she sees is the fireplace, which works similar to those downstairs, and the light sconces, which burn with a continual flame, like downstairs.

    Thorgrim peers out the window. "I don't think that is a real landscape. At least not the one we saw outside. Should we smash this snake idol? I don't like its looks."

    Elrae inspects the piano. "What strange instrument is this?" He presses a few keys experimentally. [DM OOC: Yes, they don't actually exist in the Flanaess.]

    "I don't sense any evil," Thorgrim says, running his hand over the glass statue. "Would that we could take this with us, and that strange instrument, as well. But I've the feeling getting the Soul Gem and saving Emyn should be our sole target."

    Isilme casts Item on the piano, turning it into a ribbon and tucking it into her belt. "If I can return this to you later," she says to Elrae, "I will."

    Hepla looks up the stairs. It's dark so she can't see anything. However, after she heads up the stairs, the glass snake starts to move....

    [DM OOC: Lulled them with the manticores!]

    [Isilme OOC: Predictable!]

    "Eeyagh!" Thorgrim shouts, striking the thing immediately.

    [DM OOC: Nah, I was just kidding! Nothing happens. Not everything is a trick!]

    Emyn says, "Leave these things here." Emyn then follows Hepla up the stairs, again calling to treat with the Lord of the Tower. They head up the stairs into a dark chamber, dim light coming through the windows. It's a bedroom, furnished with relatively standard items. Bed, desk, a small bath, a couple nightstands a trunk, and a closet. There's a large wooden double-door in the wall to the left side.



    The party searches the chamber, while Emyn moves to the door. He still feels his quarry above them somewhere. He waits for Noot to check the door. It is a very stout double door, made of thick hardwood. There is no doorknob, but there are two large metal handles. He sees no indication of traps of any kind.

    Meanwhile, the ongoing detect magic reveals faint magic around the inkwell on the desk. There is also a chandelier hanging in the center of the room, with crystal candles which all radiate magic. Finally, the doorway in the straight wall radiates with strong magic of a combined Alteration and Evocation. While searching, Elrae finds a set of journals written in an ancient form of Flan.

    Isilme comes over to look at the journals, while Berenn casts a Stoneshape on the wall to avoid the door. It doesn't work. Elrae uses his Wand of Earth and Stone to make a passwall, but that too fails.

    "The tower is probably protected against such things," says Isilme, picking up the journals.

    "Let me try," says Hepla, who casts Reduce on the door. Again, nothing happens. Isilme glances over from the desk. She then casts Knock on the doors. Everyone hears the clicking of locks opening as she does so. "Silly men," she muses as she puts away the journals.

    "Ha ha ha!" laughs Elrae. "A simple knock spell. I need to learn that song one day."

    Emyn grabs the handle to throw open the door, but as soon as does he is blasted backwards by an electric shock doing [22] damage! He lies on the ground, smoke rising from various parts of his body.

    [DM OOC: Gotta check item saves! He loses BOTH his healing potions, the sword which Isilme loaned him, and one normal javelin. Everything else is fine, including the special sheath that Isilme had made.]

    [Isilme OOC: THIS is why I don't give certain people items; there is a reason why they don't have many. (Sigh)]

    While Emyn gets up and takes out his backup mace, Hepla uses Telekinesis to open the doors, revealing the magical laboratory of Galap-Dreidel!



    Opening the door, you see a very neat and tidy magical laboratory and study. There is a magic circle inscribed on the floor just inside the room. A large table, upon which are some books. Bookshelves along the walls are clearly beckoning. A writing desk sits along the far wall. There is also a fireplace, brazier, and a stand with a large crystal ball atop it. Finally, there's another spiral staircase which goes up to another level above. The glow of a red light can be seen up there....
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:07 pm  
    Part 14 - TPK

    Emyn calls out again, "My Lord, we seek to treat with you on a matter of importance and beg your leave to enter your presence." There is no answer. Emyn leaves the area for the mages to inspect as he moves to the spiral staircase.

    Vaddara enters and casts detect traps; the doors show multiple traps, as does the stairway going up. The entire stairway seems a magical trap. There is also a magical trap surrounding the crystal ball.

    "Emyn, stop!" she says, and the paladin freezes. "The stairs are trapped."

    Isilme also enters. "Take care and DO NOT disturb the circle," she says, remembering another in the Temple of the Elder Elemental God. She drags a piece of furniture over to prop against the door and keep it open. "What's magical," she asks Hepla, who also enters, scanning the room.

    The crystal ball is magical, as is an unopened book on the desk. The opened book is another journal. There are about a dozen magical scrolls on the shelves. Many of the books are about magic and such, things that would be great for a wizard to have, obviously. Also here are the spellbooks of Galap-Dreidel. These take the form of many scrolls, plates, etc. Thousands of years ago, books were not as common as they are now. Much of his stuff is written on scrolls and carved into metal plates. These scrolls are not "magical scrolls" which can be used like normal scrolls. It's just how things used to be.

    Hepla's Detect Magic finally stops working after entering here, as do the spiritual hammer spells.

    "Use your telekinesis to lift the book into your pack," says Isilme to Hepla. "That way we don't have to touch it...yet." She then calls to Vaddara. "If you grab the blanket of the bed, and stack all the books and scrolls into it, we can bundle it all up as a giant pack by trying the ends of the blanket together, and then Rakk can help carry such a large pack, or I can use an item spell on it."

    Thorgrim sheathes his pick. To Isilme, he says, "You may as well take that crystal ball, too. It will take some time to disarm all these traps. I feel our goal is near, given the safeguards at this level. We'd best beware." He then moves over to Emyn, speaking to the man who seems focused on the stairs. "Emyn, would your pursuit of vengeance even work if this one were guiltless? I don't see how it could."

    This crystal ball is about 1' in diameter, so not easy to carry around. Thorgrim then looks around the lab, thinking of taking anything Lyseious the alchemist could use. Most of the shelves are full of magical-type stuff which Thorgrim doesn't quite recognize. Mages could gather stuff up, if they had some way to carry it all. Hepla takes the crystal ball, putting it carefully in her pack, all wrapped up in her cloak.

    Isilme meanwhile will look over the journal and see what information she can gather, especially the last entries. The main thing you get from the journal is that the tower has been slipping back and forth from this plane to another. It started with the death of the original Galap-Dreidel, and has been growing more and more common as time has gone by. Now the tower spends MOST of its time in some otherworldly place of mists. However, there is something strange about these mists. They seem to be "trying" to draw the tower into them, but something keeps it bound here. Galap-Dreidel has reasoned this to be the Soul Gem, which will not allow itself to be drawn from the plane of Pyaray. Thus, by a strange trick of fate, the Soul Gem has acted as an anchor, holding the Ghost Tower here, at least partly.

    "Interesting," says Thorgrim. "I wonder where the tower is trying to go..."

    Gathering everything they can take, the party then plans to move up the stairs. Hepla uses her telekinesis to move the paperweight and place it on the stairs. Nothing happens. She repeats this with the same result until she places it on the next to the last step. A bunch of bright colors suddenly flash around the stairway. They are so bright, that they are difficult to look at, regardless of color, and there are all the colors of the rainbow. They flash around, but seem to strike something invisible, like a wall around the stairs, so they only affect the area of the stairs. Then just as soon as it starts, it ends, and all anyone sees is the rock sitting where Hepla placed it. Vaddara then verifies that the trap is still there.

    Hepla then moves another object around the stairs, and nothing happens until she sets it down upon the stairs themselves. Then the lightshow repeats. When it ends, the second object, a chair this time, has been blasted into kindling.

    Finally, she picks up the original paperweight and moves it back down then back up, all the way to the next level where she sets it on the landing above. Nothing happens.

    "I noticed the light hitting some sort of invisible wall," says Thorgrim. "What do you suppose that is?"

    "It's a magical trap set by a high-power wizard," answers Rakk. "Whatever it is, it can't be good."

    "I hope I understand this," mutters Isilme, who then casts Fly and heads up to the next level, careful to avoid touching the stairs. Sure enough, only the stairs are trapped. She flies up without any problem.

    Hepla then casts Fly on Rakk, who grabs ahold of Emyn and "flies" up the stairway too. He has to go slowly, to avoid touching it, but he manages and gets to the top. Meanwhile, Vaddara casts Levitate on Thorgrim, who grabs Noot as she Levitates them to the ceiling. They will then be able to push along the ceiling, so she can lift them the rest of the way.



    The tiled floor of this level covers the entire floor, which is domed, about 25' at the peak. A basin of sorts is the only feature in the room, within which is some kind of flowing fluid that actually looks more like a gas. It's hard to describe. In the center of that is a strange metal pedestal which rises about 4' out of the misty liquid stuff. Atop that rests a large pulsating red jewel, the Soul Gem.

    Standing about halfway between the gem and the stairs (that's the square grate thing in the bottom of the map) is Chardath/Galap-Dreidel. He is looking up at Isilme, flying above him. He then glances over as Rakk and Emyn fly up. Rakk is holding Emyn currently, that's why their counters are kinda together. Thorgrim and Noot are right below the floor, next to the opening. It will take them a round to get up here. Everyone else is down below still, and may act this round. Of course, they can't really see what's going on up here.

    Rakk drops Emyn and quickdraws his blades,"Emyn, you MUST get that gem. Chardath, you don't have to do this."

    Emyn says, "My Lord Chardath Dardell, please forgive our intrusion into your home but it was for good reason. We have spoken with Lady Marinessa. She and the others trapped as ghosts in Castle Inverness deserve their eternal rest. My Lord, we have a way that this can be accomplished, if you will consider my plea."

    Chardath moves forward and hits Emyn with a swipe of his hand [16], knocking him sprawling to the floor! Isilme is about to try casting a spell, and is angling for a good shot, when Rakk flies over to scoop up the gem with the dagger. When he gets close, a beam of pure red light shoots from the gem, striking Rakk.

    Emyn and Isilme watch in horror as do Noot and Thorgrim as they move up through the floor. Rakk seems to be stretched, his head and upper body pulling towards the gem [DM OOC: think like a black hole]. He drops the dagger as his entire body is pulled into the gem! The dagger clatters to the tile floor, just before the basin.

    Noot leaps free to the side, then pulls Thorgrim over as Vaddara and Hepla cast more spells to levitate other party members up, Berenn and Elrae. Noot runs over and grabs the dagger, while Thorgrim casts Holy Orb. It has no effect, and causes [5] damage to Emyn. Emyn gets up tries to push Chardath down, but he is amazed at the man's strength. In fact, when he is close, he sees that Chardath has been cut apart and sewed back together. He is not a man at all; he is a golem!

    Emyn shouts out that Chadrath is a golem, and that gives Noot an idea. He tosses his Rod of Smiting to Thorgrim. "Use this!" he says. Then he slips around to prepare to backstab Chadrath with the knife which Rakk dropped.

    Chardath then grabs back at Emyn, doing another [10] with one fist. It tries to grab him with both hands, but misses. The others all get up, but they can't cast spells this round. Isilme suddenly hears Maerthorlear's voice in her mind. Simultaneously, Bonefire erupts in flames. The party's magic is working again!

    Thorgrim noticed Bonefire for a moment, along with the light from Vaddara's shield, so he reasons that magic works again. "Our magic is now working!" he yells.

    Isilme is momentarily started when she hears Maerthorlear's voice gain. She then casts ESP. She senses nothing but pure malevolence.

    Meanwhile, Berenn has made the top and he rushes for the gem. Emyn yells a warning, but it's too late. As Berenn gets to edge of the basin, a red beam of light shoots forth from the gem, hitting him. As Rakk before him, he is pulled into the gem [again, stretching like falling into a black hole kinda, you get the picture!].

    Vaddara and Hepla cast Magic Missiles at Chardath, and they strike unerringly, blasting him for [15] and [14]. However, the damage seems to quickly begin to heal. Emyn again tries to grapple the thing, succeeding. However, he is unable to push it anywhere. It's strength is terrible. It grabs Emyn around the throat and beings to choke him [20].

    Everyone is upstairs now, and all your magic works now.

    Thorgrim hits Chadrath in the side, the rod doing [13] damage, which does not seem to heal. Noot then stabs Chadrath in the back [20], and the golem rears back, screaming. It spins around and hits Noot with two hands [14] [10], and grabs ahold of him by the neck. Emyn pulls it closer to the stairway, while Vaddara uses Maiming Missiles. About 4 hit, but the thing seems to ignore the damage, which starts to heal nearly instantly. Isilme uses Maerthorlear's Emotion ability, but it has no effect.

    Finally, Hepla turns her Telekinesis on the gem, trying to levitate it from its pedestal. It seems that it lifts a fraction of an inch...just a red beam streaks out and hits her. She is stretched out and pulled in the gem as well!

    [Berenn OOC: OOC: Go team go says a voice from the great void! Time to roll up a new character ... I guess I was wrong ... everyone didn't die. Just Berenn, Rakk and Hepla. That's a pretty good deal, lose 3 souls to save 1 soul. Maybe Emyn will jump off the tower and kill himself once he realizes this fool errand lost him his love.]

    Thorgrim hits Chardath again [16] while the golem strangles Noot [14]. Noot drives the dagger deep into the thing's heart, and it lets go of Emyn, reaching up and grabbing at the dagger. Before it can grab it, Emyn then throws it down into the stairway, which instantly, lights up in the familiar colored lightshow, flashes of color blinding Vaddara and Elrae who were about to cast further spells.

    Meanwhile, another beam strikes out, hitting Isilme. She hears Maerthorlear shriek as Isilme is drawn into the Soul Gem as well.

    "Throw the dagger and hit the gem with it!" Vaddara calls out to Noot. "And do what you can to make sure the pommel strikes the gem first. I'm guessing that is the only way to remove the gem from its resting spot."

    [Isilme OOC: All these souls lost save .... Emyn. The gods do have a sense of humor.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: This golem is seriously interfering with our ability to solve the riddle of the Soul Gem. And I have no clue what to do should we destroy the golem, or even if we should. However, since Thorgrim and Noot seem to be the only characters doing damage, Thorgrim will strike with the Rod of Smiting again. Telekinesis didn't work on the gem, we've lost both our mages, the dagger didn't protect anybody, touching it causes soul-sucking, casting a spell on it causes soul-sucking, doing nothing to it causes soul-sucking. How on earth will we proceed? Thorgrim's about ready to bone out and re-consider.]

    Actually, the golem was just thrown down the stairs by Emyn! As soon as it hit the stairs, the lightshow started up again, blinding Vaddara and Elrae for the rest of the round. As your vision returns, you see that the golem is still there on the stairs. The rays are hitting it, but they aren't destroying it, and as long as it's in the stairway, a wall of force is surrounding the stairs, keeping the prismatic spray contained. The good news is that keeps the spray from hitting you, and it keeps the golem from returning. The bad news is that there now is no way out!

    Thorgrim breathes a sigh of relief and lowers the Rod. "I don't know what we should do. The dagger seemed key, but also seemed ineffective at protecting the bearer. Perhaps two people should go for the gem at once? While one is getting soul-sucked, the other can put it in the hilt of the dagger."

    [Thorgrim OOC: Was that our plan? I'm not sure we had an actual objective. We didn't have any other plan to deal with the Soul Gem, did we? Didn't Chardath try to do that and get himself killed? I'm pretty sure he did. Well, it's as good a plan as any. It's based on the idea that the Gem only sucks one soul at a time. Not sure if it will work. Not sure if it's even a good objective, to put the gem back in the dagger, but I don't see an alternative. Doing nothing is not an option; the Gem is sucking a soul per round, regardless if anyone is doing anything to molest it. Not sure what will happen if it does work...from what I gather, someone needs to then be sacrificed with it so that Galap Dreidel can rise again. But seriously, I don't think we had an objective other than to get the gem back in the dagger. Entering the circle, casting a spell, and doing nothing all caused soul-suckage. So what else is there?]

    [Berenn OOC: OOC: Do not throw the dagger at the Soul Gem, if you crack a facet, you will let out everyone that is trapped in here. That has the potential of being a lot of unhappy customers. I fail to resolve the situation, Rags has changed how the Soul Gem is responding and what triggers it firing its beam. And even if you find a way to acquire the Soul Gem, Emyn has sealed us in for all eternity. You might as well all just jump in the Gem and join us for all eternity. At least Berenn would have the satisfaction of kicking Emyn's **** until the end of time! Told ya this would be the end of us! Rags just turned it into a different type of death trap.]

    [Vaddara OOC: Well, if im going in the gem its not going to be voluntary.]

    [Noot OOC: Well, I am not going to get near that gem. It's deadly. If someone else has a better plan, come get the dagger. I am open to suggestion and I sure don't know anything about this magic stuff other than the dagger and gem fit together somehow.]

    Noot waits . . . .

    Vaddara walks over to Noot and ask him for the dagger, then meets up with Emyn. "Come on, let finish this."

    [Vaddara OCC: I'm all but certain Emyn can't be soul-sucked because his soul already was take by the lake beast. So my elf butt is hiding behind Emyn during the approach. We can only do what we can do and if Rags wants to start us over at lvl 1, we'll adapt and overcome.]

    Vaddara gets behind Emyn, while Noot moves over and hands him the dagger. Thorgrim moves off to the right, while Elrae starts to move to the left, singing his song.

    Suicide is painless
    It brings on many change


    He doesn't get much further, when another crimson beam shoots from the gem and strikes him. The talented bard continues his song as he is slowly stretched/dragged into the dream. [ DM OOC: It sounds like playing a 45 on the 33 setting. If you don't get that, you are a youngster!]

    "Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! Damn you Emyn for this messsssssssssss!!!" Cries Elrae as he is sucked away into the crimson gem.

    [Berenn OOC: I wish I would have said something like that when I was sucked in! LOL!]

    [DM OOC: At least you now get to listen to Elrae singing for eternity!]

    [Berenn OOC: OOC: Now it is truly hell!]

    [Thorgrim OOC: Well, since this is the best plan we've got, Thorgrim will back up Emyn, with a mind to complete his task should he fail, in the same round.]

    "We've no time to tarry or over-think this; let's do it!"

    Vaddara, Emyn, Noot, and Thorgrim move forward. The red beam fires out as usual, striking Emyn and dragging him, dagger and all, screaming into the soul gem. Vaddara and Noot are left behind him, now in the open. Thorgrim has moved up to the gem from the other side.

    [Thorgrim OOC: We're dead. That was the entire plan! Now preparing a long list of my problems with this adventure. BTW, where's the dagger?]

    [DM OOC: Emyn was going for the gem and planned to put it on the dagger, thus he had the dagger. Thorgrim was coming from the other side, the right side, and would grab it too if Emyn failed. Vaddara and Noot were advancing too, but staying hidden behind Emyn. That was the extent of the plan, far as I knew.

    Actually, you are in mid-round right now. Everyone advanced together, and Emyn got hit by the beam and sucked in. That leaves the other three still there, and with the other half of this round's actions to take. You can't cast any spells, because you have moved. No movement and spellcasting, remember? So, you can still try and grab the gem, hit it with something, I don't know. It's up to you. And Vaddara has the dagger, as Emyn was going to put the gem in it. So, you all have your actions to take, whatever they may be. Anyway, that's why I paused at the point Emyn was hit and sucked it. So these couple of clarifications could be done, and we could then finish the round.]

    [Isilme OOC: Having all moved up, you can continue and grab/place the gem in the dagger this round since Vadarra has it. The beam sucked Emyn in for its action this round, so you might be able to pull it off. I would avoid the goo around the pedestal.]

    [Thorgrim OOC: No spellcasting? What the $%&# are we supposed to do with the gem if we get to it?]

    Thorgrim strikes the Gem with the Rod of Smiting, calling on Clanggedin to give him the strength to shatter it. The Rod of Smiting shatters on impact, sending Thorgrim flying backwards about 10', where he lands on the tiled floor, stunned and he took [5] damage.

    I am going to give Vaddara the benefit of the doubt. She leaps atop the pedestal, avoiding the goo, and grabs the gem. She then places it in the end of the dagger. Noot is still just outside the vaporous liquid basin.

    "Good job...now what?" Thorgrim would say, if he wasn't stunned.

    [Isilme OOC: Quick! Sacrifice Noot with the dagger! Eternal life awaits!]

    [Thorgrim OOC: That seems like our best bet...seriously. Thorgrim will wait to see if the gem is still sucking souls. Not that he has a choice, being stunned and all.]

    Thorgrim shakes the cobwebs from his head and sits up. He sees Vaddara standing atop the pedestal, the gem placed within the dagger. "Well, at least it stopped sucking souls."

    [DM OOC: Really?]

    Just as Thorgrim says this, a beam shoots forth from the Soul Gem, hitting Noot and sucking the poor thief into it!

    Thorgrim opens his Portable Hole. "Vaddarra! Throw that accursed thing inside!" Unfortunately, when he spreads out his portable hole on the floor, nothing happens. The extra-dimensional space is not accessible within this chamber.

    Vaddara then just slams the dagger down, gem leading, into the top of the pedestal. A blast wave blows he back over the basin where she lands hard on the floor, similar to what happened to Thorgrim. She lands, stunned, barely holding onto the dagger, as Thorgrim quickly folds up his non-functioning portable hole and tucks it back into his boot. He moves over to help Vaddara as a red beam slices out at him, sucking him into the gem as well.

    As Vaddara comes to her senses, one last beam of crimson light shoots forth, hitting the dazed elf and dragging her into the gem as well!

    [DM OOC: Woot! TPK! First time ever!]

    [Berenn OOC: OOC: Fitting since I didn't want to be here in the first place! Doesn't really matter since we are never getting out of this Gem! Berenn has started his eternal labor of kicking Emyn in the nuts for getting us into this mess!]
    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:08 pm  

    I think I felt your player's pain. As I read all this happening, I found myself struggling to come up with a counter-plan. Every time someone got sucked in, the panic got worse.

    I loved all the OOC comments from those within the gem.

    I hope y'all start a new adventure. It has been fun to read.
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:32 am  

    Sad for the players, but it seems they had fun, never-the-less. Now, they know to fear you as a DM! Evil Grin

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    Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:37 am  

    I personally loved all the OOC stuff. They were REALLY STRESSED!
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:13 pm  

    Very nice work on your part. You do a wonderful job setting up storylines. Also, to give a tip of the hat to your players, I think they do a great job of character development.

    It has been a fun read. I will patiently await your next adventure.
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    Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:42 pm  

    Trust me, we were definitely freaked out. Rags worked up one heck of an adventure.
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    Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:13 am  

    OK, they aren't dead. They all thought they were, especially because they all knew how the Soul Gem worked in the ORIGINAL adventure. I let them stew on their fate for a day or so, even start to consider new characters, before I told them they were still alive...maybe.

    Follow their continuing adventures in...

    The Soul Gem

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=64220#64220
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2013
    Posts: 325
    From: Minnesota

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    Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:18 pm  

    I can hear your contract from TPK games being ripped to shreds from here.

    He he he ha ha ha

    Way to make 'em sweat anyway!!
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2529
    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:36 pm  

    mheaton118 wrote:
    I can hear your contract from TPK games being ripped to shreds from here.

    He he he ha ha ha

    Way to make 'em sweat anyway!!


    Ha! Cool

    SirXaris
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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 09, 2001
    Posts: 652


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    Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:41 pm  

    Yeah. You know, fear of death is far worse than death itself. And anger over death? Music to a DM's ears!!!
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