The slayers’ footsteps echoed throughout the large octagonal chamber reverberating across its marble-tile floors as they rose from the lower level via the trapdoor. The chamber was dimly lit by the red dusk-light leaking through the four large windows, one with the glass blown out. There were scorch marks on the floor and a small area of shattered tile. Broken arrows, some gilded with silver, peppered the chamber walls, a few pillars and some were stuck in the floor. The far side of the chamber was polluted with a large puddle of greyish slime where the steps to the lower battlements had been, the orange sky visible in a square through the portal in the ceiling to where the steps had led. Among this ruin was the headless corpse of Moezra the were-raven in a congealed puddle of blood.
Vorwulf immediately went to the leather trunk and lifted its lid. In it he found 1 jade rod, 3 labeled potion bottles (Neutralize Poison, Protection from Demons, and Purification), and a manual of demon-lore. The other three turned their attentions towards the two iron chests near the northwest wall. The chests appeared to be solid iron with no apparent locks, sitting on lion’s paw feet and bearing the relief of a lion’s head on one end.
Grom the shaman: “Kyr you should try and open them.”
Vorwulf: “Watch it with those chests they might come alive and attack us or something!”
Kyr and Grom approached a chest each and the shaman sensed magic on the one nearest him and after he said so, Kyr refused to touch either of the chests. Vorwulf, on a hunch, searched the mage’s corpse and found a key hidden under its feathers. Realizing the key didn’t go to the lockless chests the shaman cast protection from poison on himself and attempted to pry the lid off one with the crowbar but found there was no purchase for the tool. He tried to pass the crowbar to Kyr but she refused. Getting another idea Vorwulf tossed his trophy, the mage’s raven-like head, to Kyr. She touched it to one of the chests without effect. All the while Bers was inspecting the chests but could glean nothing else from her effort. Vorwulf looked behind each of the two tapestries bearing the images of a purple dragon on the west wall and a white dragon on the east in search of any possible secret compartments but again found nothing. He went to the window and pulled up the rope which he had used to rappel down earlier in the day.
He checked it then used it and his grappling hook to gain purchase on the portal in the ceiling.
Kyr: “Yes the ladies! Let’s save the ladies!”
At the same time as the others began to climb the rope the shaman used his clairvoyance on the chests and discovered the command words in order to open them as well as make them walk. He then followed after the others finding the rope slicked by the strange slime as if it had wicked or slithered part way up the rope as it hung there though it did not hinder his climb. They found themselves atop the lower battlements confronted with a pair of iron cages imprisoning two naked girls. Vorwulf broke the lock off one and Kyr pried open the door of the second. The girls stumbled out of the cages and gave blubbering accounts of where they were from, farms from the north side of Merdna lake when questioned. The shaman put his cloak on one of the girls. Their attentions turned towards the spiked bronze door in the south wall above which they could see the crenulations of the upper battlements a stone stair on either side. On the door was a glowing rune and Kyr, who still had the head in her possession, jammed the feathered skull on the door-spikes and opened the door.
Vorwulf: “Hey! Don’t mess up my head! That’s my trophy!”
Kyr pulled the head off the spikes and tossed it to the ranger.
They entered the room, it had 10 ft ceiling and was mostly empty. A single large lead-pane window let in the only light and was recessed in the south wall. A large iron chandelier hung from the rafters above and 5 high quality carpets lay over the wood plank floor. A tapestry of a green dragon in a forest was hanging on the southeastern wall. A stuffed leather armchair sat facing the window with a small oak table next to it. On top the oak table was a silver candlestick, a half-filled bottle of whiskey and a silver goblet. In the east end of the room was simple bed and a polished oak table with chair. On that table was a bottle of ink, a quill, an open journal and under it was a leather chest. There were book shelves along some of the walls and an arrow slit in the east and west corners. At the center of the room sat a large sack obviously stitched from the skin of human and faunic faces tied shut with a short rope made of braided hair. Vor opened the bag and found 8 gold talons within stamped with the arms of Blackbrow.
Vorwulf: “This must be the gold the vampires paid him. We must be in his library.”
Grom: “I call the carpets those are mine!”
Bers: “I don’t have any use for a library.”
After rolling up the carpets and tucking those away in his bag of holding the shaman began to read the journal. He found that Moezra had figured out how to open the mirror door to the vault in Sawback’s lair finding a counter-spell, a very difficult one, which could open it. Unfortunately he couldn’t cast the spell being a shaman and all. They found writing supplies in the leather chest and found that the book shelves contained 1 Standard Booklot (spellcraft), and 2 Comprehensive Booklots (magical script, use & recognize poison). The shaman then realized the chickens he had tied to his belt were completely stripped of all flesh probably from when they faced the demon and then pulled another 3 from his bag of holding which he found had suffocated. He was going to make dinner but the others said they wouldn’t touch those rotten things no matter how he cooked them.
They decided to stay the night in the library and decided watches as they unrolled their beds. The shaman used his remaining spells for the day to heal Vorwulf and Bers. It wasn’t until second watch that things turned risky.
Bers was on second watch and hearing something coming from outside through an arrow slit she walked to the window and looked down. She saw about a dozen human warriors bearing torches with around 5 trolls among them all being led by a giant troll. She was busy waking the rest of the group when they all heard a massive pounding akin to a battering ram from downstairs on the front door. They had time to half-equip themselves and led by Vorwulf hustled down the rope.
He shouted to Grom, “grab the mage’s robe and put it on make sure the cowl’s over yer head!”
They continued on until they made it to the room with the standing armor where Vorwulf made a sharp turn to the right through the archway into the moonlit room with the shaman immediately following. As soon as Vorwulf passed under the arch the armor sprung to life and just barely missed Grom with its heavy spiked mace.
They engaged the animated armor in combat. In the first round Grom was able to disarm it of the mace and it stumbled while using its shield in an attempt to slam Bers throwing it. They realized their swords were dealing virtually no damage to it and Bers in response picked up the heavy mace from the floor. In the second round Bers began power-bashing the armor and Vorwulf turned to the shaman.
Vorwulf: “S#*t! Go,go,go! Me and Bers’ll handle this! You [to Kyr] go with the shaman!”
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “I knew something like this was going to happen!”
Gil (Grom’s Player): “At exactly the wrong time! Exactly.”
The shaman ran at top speed into the octagonal moon chamber into the laboratory stomping over the remains of the door, up into the larder and through the sitting to the stairs in record time. Kyr struggled to keep up. Bers and Vor continued to engage the animated armor. By the beginning of the third round the shaman and Kyr were at the ground level in the storeroom where they had faced the demon the previous day. Kyr remained halfway down the steps in an effort to stay hidden but still be able to see what was transpiring. The shaman ran towards the front door as it began to splinter with every furious knock.
Giant Troll: “Wizeeerd! Open up! We know the dragon-slayerzzz are here! Open!”
As Grom got within 10 ft. of the door it burst into splinters and the giant troll stuck his face in the doorway. It was gazing into the darkness of the tower with one wide eye the doorframe completely filled by sore spattered warty brown troll-flesh.
Grom (imitating the were-raven): “My door!”
Giant Troll: “oh uh. Sorry bout yer door but turn ‘em over! But we paid you for this so give ‘em to us we know you got ‘em.”
Grom: “I have already slain them they are dead! Take my word for it troll!”
The troll seemed to buy it as did those behind him that could hear and with complaints and snorts the human mercs and trolls departed. Meanwhile upstairs the fight went into its third round with a lightning tongue shooting from the animated armor’s closed helm after the visor opened. Fortunately both slayers were able to avoid it and after Vorwulf landed a power attack Bers followed with her own smashing the armor to bits. They hurried downstairs to join the shaman and Kyr.
After the situation calmed the adventurers used the two intact crates to block up the door and pulled the lever in the door niche to arm the outer trap-door mechanism. They made their way back up to the library at the top of the tower. There they found the two girls joined by a filthy third holding each other and crying fearing the worst.
Grom: “Wait. One, two, three!?”
Gil (Grom’s Player): “That’s it! I pull out my mace and get ready to murder her!” He rolled a Sense Motive check against her story of hiding in the latrine and in various places around the tower for the past month after she escaped from the cages but she was unable to flee the tower. After that the group decided to get back to their rest. Their dreams were haunted by visions and a familiar foe.
Vor suffered a fitful sleep the image of the fighter lich they last encountered at the mouth of Sawback’s lair whom turned to glance over its shoulder revealing the site of Dead-Eye’s grave. The turf grown over the grave split as did the black earth and a cloaked figure bearing his former master’s longsword and bow, those buried with him, rose. He woke suddenly drenched in sweat a drop of blood ran from his nose and felt a little ill. He wiped the blood away and went back to sleep.
In the morning when all rose and after breakfast Vorwulf related his dream. Bers had the same dream and both of them were a little ill. The shaman cast a restoration to restore their constitution and related his dream-vision. He had dreamt that he was soaring bodily over an endless forest like those found in the far north near his home and soon a great looming shadow, a dragon-shadow began to appear racing him over the treetops suddenly a pair of flapping red wings created a roaring torrent of air then he fell from the sky into a vast river-bed and when he looked up from the ground he saw a giant glowing toadstool as tall as a tree. He awoke soon after drenched in sweat. The image of his clansmen incinerated in dragon-fire from a great red still danced in his head. Kyr admitted she had a dream but refused to reveal it.
Isis (Kyr’s Player): “She’s a woman of mysteries!”
Kyr volunteered to take the girls downstairs in order to ‘wash and dress them’. As soon as she and the girls were down there she successfully seduced all three of them.
Cris: “Man, taking advantage of those girls when they’re vulnerable! All traumatized and s#*t!”
Vor kept a watch from the upper battlements and Bers and Grom remained in the library when Bers noticed that the human-skin sack had an eye open and was watching them. She lit a torch and jabbed at the sack which began to squirm in response. She grabbed a bottle of lamp oil and doused it setting it alight with her torch. As it burned the mouths which were stitched closed ripped open and began screaming. Bers withstood the soul-shattering force of the scream but blood burst from the shaman’s ears, his body went erect then he fell forward on his face like a plank of wood. Vor leapt through the door just as the screaming stopped. The room was permeated with the thick, foul smelling oily smoke of the bag’s cremation. They both checked the shaman for signs of life.
Gil: “No! Grom’s dead! Oh, well, s#*t. Guess it’s time for a new character.”
Jen (Bers’ Player): “Wait! What about a luck roll, you rolled a natural 1 maybe it’ll help you!”
The shaman awoke after a few minutes but permanently partially deaf which he tried to cure with a restoration spell but the spell failed. After the shaman was at his full faculties they went to find Kyr and the girls but stumbled upon a scene they simply backed out of and waited up top for Kyr to show up. The girls were clean, very clean and were wearing the dead mage’s fine silk clothes. The group decided to spend 1 more day at Ekit’s Watch since they all needed the rest especially after the last night!
To Be Continued…