After the trials of the maze, our elation at finally finding the tower was short lived as we came across a gruesome sight. Our contact from within the Tower, the Zentharim agent, had fallen to his death and his body lay shattered in a bloody pool, bits of guts and brains had splattered out on impact and one lonely eyeball glared up at us balefully, violently removed from it’s socket.
It is no secret that a bard such as myself will follow a group for adventures and glory to sing about ever after. The gory and scary stuff however, never gets any easier to stomach, and after emptying my guts involuntarily and discreetly around a corner, I was relieved to see the group settling to rest after the trials of Xonthal’s twisty maze. Our heads had finally stopped buzzing from the magical illusions and tests that had plagued us and we were able to sleep soundly.
On awakening, we circled the tower to try and find a way in. No doors to be seen, but we found what seemed to be a teleport device. I have a very limited experience of teleportation, but as all nine of us gathered together on the teleportation circle I felt a little braver, even when the spinning, whirling sensation came and we saw stars.
Blinking on arrival in the new destination we seemed to be in a dark chamber. The decor was eerie and gloomy, decorated with hissing dragons and snakes. People who make these kind of interior design choices are never fun to meet in person. Especially when you’re intruding on their property.
Venturing forth into the room, we came across another bloody sight. A woman, stabbed in the back with a dragon tooth dagger, lying face down in a pool of blood. The orc and the halfling were quick to search her body for clues and spoils but I feared a reappearance of my hastily gulped breakfast so turned away. She seemed to have been a high ranking member of the Dragon Cultists. What was going on in this tower?
Turook, our celebrated half orc fighter quickly took stock of the room. There were two balconies overlooking the circle, and we were prime targets were archers to appear up there! He swung himself up onto one and spotted some buttons, and yelled to us to take a look. Balthazar, our wizard was busying himself inspecting the many bookshelves that lined the walls and slipping anything that looked suitably arcane into his many bags and deep pockets. Mim was pulling and prodding at the bookcases, seeking out traps or hidden rooms, whilst Kerranin our cleric had also spotted buttons and described the sigils carved onto each of them.
Teleport buttons to other rooms we surmised? But what did the symbols mean? Why wouldn’t you label the buttons with words over pictures I bemoaned as we ummed and aaahed over which button to pick. I fancied the star shape. “Typical bard” someone muttered, “Head in the stars while the rest of us try and keep her alive”
Eventually the paladin Malkanis and the cleric decided on a button, sometimes it’s sensible to listen to the vessels of the gods, even bloodthirsty vessels such as these two. We all gathered together again to be transported.
This time we arrived in a room of worship. We could tell because a grotesque altar made of dragon’s claws dominated the centre of the room, and six worshippers were gathered around it moaning and chanting. They had the slack jawed look of the mindless, weak, over indulged dragon cultists that we had seen before. Nine of us and an owl versus only six of them I though? Easy pickings!
Before we could sneak to surprise them, Kerranin roared with the fury only those fanatical dwarven dragon haters can muster “DRAGON LOVING SCUM!!!” and charged at them. We all leapt into the fray, confident that we could quickly dispatch our enemy.
It always looks easy at first…until the spellcasters arrive. First they blasted us with freezing cold ice and then the whole room lit up when they launched a mighty fireball that left me reeling.
The room began spinning as the blast blew me off my feet and smashed me against a wall. Glancing over at our wizard as I flew past him I saw him lying on the ground in dire condition, Athena circled his body, crying out and screaming for him before I saw another mighty flame incinerate her, and she disappeared in a flash of feathers and ash.
“NOoooOOOooOoo!!” I heard Balthazar cry weakly, as he saw his faithful familiar destroyed. Euraliar our sorcerer screamed in rage at his fellow magic user being hit and released a scorching ray at the evil foe who crumpled to his death. The whole party realised our avian friend had gone in the same moment it seemed and it galvanised us into even fiercer fighting.
I saw Dain club one cultist to death, Malkanis quickly slew another one, and Balthazar, rallied by Euraliar’s scorching ray revenge managed to summon a deadly firebolt to our cause. Kerranin, ever the extremist when dealing with dragon lovers, summoned a pillar of flame which smote and dispatched the last of our foes.
Finally the room quieted and we came together to mourn our lost friend Athena and heal. Most of us stood talking softly and consoling each other.
All of us, that is except Dain, the barbarian dwarf, who raged at the altar and smashed at it again and again! “A owl! A owl!” He howled. “Stop! Don’t!” We warned him. He didn’t listen. “To the transporter circle!” I cried, unwilling to share in any punishment that Oghma the God of Knowledge would decide to mete out to him. We all ran to safety to watch what would happen.
The learned Oghma did indeed seek to show him the error of his ways and punished him by encapsulating him in stone so he couldn’t breathe! “I’m sorry I’m really sorry!” he cried until he was released.
He rejoined us on the transport circle. After Kerranin had seen to our injuries and we had recovered somewhat I entreated the group “Let’s be careful next time! We can sneak in on people remember!” I sang a mournful song for remembrance of Athena and we pressed another button…
The now familiar whoosh!! And we were in a corridor. There were many doors to pick from, and we listened at one, hearing voices behind. I heard the paladin whisper to the cleric, “They’re probably cultists in there too”. “No!” I said but it was too late! Kerranin surged in full of renewed fervour, “DEATH! To all dragons!!” he roared and kicked the door in and raced in.
“Oh boy” I gulped, “What’s wrong with these dwarves?! One’s just tried to beat up an altar and the other is crazy with bloodlust!”
This time, we had the jump on the foes we discovered, but I was worrying about Euraliar. His wild magic is unstable at the best of times, but I could see he was still emotional and angry from the vicious attack on Balthazar and our loss of Athena. More worrying, as I ran past him I could smell ozone and the forest and rain and lava, a sure sign that an excess wild magic was gathering around him.
Euraliar was a hermit when we stumbled across him, and he always held himself slightly apart, but he and the equally introverted Balthazar had slowly and quietly bonded over a love and fascination of all aspects of magic. The hurt and loss that his friend had suffered was hurting him deeply now too.
I fired my crossbow, our cleric wielded his warhammer laughing manically as he smashed at our enemies and all was chaos. I saw Mim fix his hunter’s mark, I could see Rads thumping and stomping but I’d lost all sight of Dain. That demented, drunken dwarf, where was he?! I would later hear that he had headed off on his own..why!?
As soon as the room was cleared of enemies, we just had enough time for a collective breath of relief before we all sighed it out again at the inevitable. Once again, Kerannin had barged through into the next room with a battlecry, his face wearing a beatific expression of blood lust. More cultists, more fighting, more blood. As we finally dispatched what I prayed would be the last of this scum, I looked warningly at the cleric, ready to plead with him, PLEASE no more charging, but before I could, we were all stuck in place, completely immobilised by a silvery grey goo that seemed to come from nowhere…
What Did Dain Do?
The barbarian dwarf had bored of our fray and had run off to barge open more doors. These dwarves will be the death of us! He’d found an empty barracks and ransacked it of its meagre contents then barrelled into a broom cupboard where he’d discovered a silver grey potion in a bottle. The fool had tried to drink it, but it had turned into the sticky, goo that now stuck us all in position…
A Blink of the Eye and a Banishment Amid Chaos…
Stuck in the goo, all we could do was struggle, and I was concerned to see Euraliar thrashing and struggling as if something had taken ahold of him. I tried to call out to him, but at the same time something magical and noxious hit me and I screamed in pain instead. I saw Balthazar disappear into another dimension with a blink, and the cleric realising that Euraliar was losing control of his spells banished him to another realm…
All was quiet.
The goo disappeared, and we heard Dain’s voice greeting us all, “Guys, wait til I tell you what I found!”
A second later, Euraliar and Balthazar popped back into existence. Balthazar looked fine, if battle weary. Euraliar had a relieved look in his eye but his entire skin was bright blue..
Ignoring Dain, we crowded around our cerulean friend, “What happened to you?” I asked admiring his new brilliant tone. “You are as bright blue as a berry!”
He shook his head looking at all of us in turn and laughing. “What didn’t happen?!” he asked.*
– excerpt from the journals of Fickle Silvershield, 26th day of Summertide
What Happened To Euraliar
Taken over by his chaotic, wild magic, Euraliar cast a necrotic curse at all of us before our fast thinking cleric banished him to another plane. While there he remembers being more confused than he had ever been, feeling himself casting fireball spells, aging rapidly, being surrounded by flumps and a monster, teleporting again and then finding himself back in the room with us, as bright blue as a peacock. Quite the eventful sixty seconds!
NB. He didn’t tell any of us this at the time. I myself would hear this story many years later when we met in a quiet tavern in The High Forest, which I think was very wise as if we had known all of this, we might have wished he’d go back to being a hermit again!