A Witch and Her Tower
Lesotruth 16th, 989 IaC
The party met with Patras Gritham and explained their strange circumstances to him, confusing the knight but eventually winning his trust. Communicating his own reservations about the Grey Wings following the dragon attack on Bucktuck City, Patras agreed to help the group as they approached the entrance to the Tower of Startha, making attempts to distract the Dark Embers and Greyguard that blocked the way in. The ambush turned out to be unnecessary as the party unloaded on the guards, slaughtering them before they had a chance to react; much to the horror of Patras's company, Ilryn even managed to cut a man completely in half. The Dark Ember that had his sword stolen by Lambchop made another attempt to reclaim his birthright, but to no avail, and was cut down mercilessly. In the aftermath, Ilryn used her power to raise a specter from the corpse of a Dark Ember, but begrudgingly dismissed it after some protests from the honorable Patras.
After reading a warning about the dungeon written by its creator, Nepoznato, the group encountered a puzzle at the entrance of the tower, solving the following riddle:
Six eyes have I, three ways they point
Four eyes have light, two hues conjoint
Two lonely eyes now fix their gaze
A path that leads into the maze
The party discovered that a set of statues in the center of the room corresponded to a set of magical glyphs on the ground that wreathed the party in a colored light when stepped on. The group found the correct combination of colors and decided to enter the portal to the north that the last statue stared at.
The group prepared to head down into the dungeon as Patras suggested he remain topside with his men, who likely could not survive down below. Patras said he would do his best to keep the other guards from becoming suspicious, and would lead any allies of the party in the right direction.
Lesotruth 17th - Endelshine 2nd, 989 IaC
The group entered the tower and slowly made their way through its maze-like halls, deep into its absolute depths. The party encountered a number of obstacles they eventually overcame, including:
- The first floor, which contained a pattern written on the floor that needed to be fully explored in order to open the way to the next level. The path the pattern took forced the party to fight through rooms of starved beasts. This took the party 1 day.
- The second floor, which had the group find their way through meandering halls split by doors with peculiar symbols on them that hinted at the threats inside. The group figured out the meanings of the symbols and decided to head for the doors marked with triangles; these doors required them to fight strange aberrations and illusions, but gave the group a higher chance of encountering a diamond door, three of which were necessary for making their way further down. This took the party 3 days.
- The party found Ohrakk Cinderhand in the final room, and took the haggard performer with them.
- The third floor, which had the party make their way through a series of rooms that were filled with weapons, armors and chests, most of which was trapped or alive. The group had to handle a number of puzzle-like scenarios, including making their way down a long hallway flanked by hostile armors (solved by just busting through and taking the hits), a room with a gated door and a sword in the floor (Lambchop tore the sword out and the party destroyed it, opening the way), and a room with a flaming floor and the door in the ceiling (solved by Steve lifting the party with Bigby's Hand). This took the party 1 day.
- The fourth floor, which featured a series of modular rooms that correlated to small polygonal pieces that the dungeon supplied the group. The party was made to arrange the pieces on a board in order to connect them with a final room on the far side, though the alignment and door positions needed to be exact. Due to some group ingenuity, this only took the party 2 days.
- The party discovered the Seeker Mercesa Hanwin lost in the rooms here, and took her with them.
- The fifth floor, which was a beautiful marble palace that allowed the party to get some rest. However, this came at the cost of a bit of their sanity, as the floor flooded their minds with strange images in their sleep. Lambchop and Merja were particularly affected, though the entire party found their dreams of the Thousand King to be more visceral in this space. The party rested for 1 day.
- Ohrakk, tired from his weeks in the dungeon, chose to remain on this floor.
- The sixth floor, an endless downward spiral path with a deep, dark pit in the center and an endless supply of undead pulling themselves from alcoves in the walls. Strange shadow beasts painted across the floor attacked anything that came in close proximity. The party decided not to be cool and surf down the spiral on their shields, instead choosing the slow and steady path of fighting their way down, spooked after Lambchop nearly tumbled down the pit after being attack by a shadow painting. This took the party 2 days.
- The seventh floor, a massive, infinite library with a sinister sentience. The party was tasked by the head librarian arcanaloth Nepoznato to retrieve an archival book stolen by one of the library's inhabitants. Ror'hakesch warned the party not to take any books from the shelves, unless they wished to stay in the library forever as its nothic caretakers. The group had trouble locating the book, but managed to resist the temptations of the library as they journeyed deep into its extradimensional space. After stealing it back from a disgruntled nothic, the group returned it to the librarian and moved on. This took the party 4 days.
- Mercesa discovered her partner Levinus Thansur in the library, having succumbed to its influence. She wordlessly embraced and stayed with him in his madness. The party, low on resources, decided there was not much they could do, and moved on.
- The eighth floor, a labyrinth composed of flesh that constantly pulsed with blood. The environment further took a toll on the sanity of the group, but they managed to hold out until they reached the end of its main hall, coming to a giant, pulsing door with a massive, round eye at its center. The door demanded eight things from the party, stating that they would never be able to retrieve them as long as they draw breath. This floor took them 1 day. The objects sacrificed were:
- A coin - Caedali offered a piece of platinum. All of her platinum disappeared.
- A tooth - Kel gave the door a boar tusk.
- A nail - Kel offered a nail from her carpenter's tools. All of her nails disappeared.
- An eye - Ilryn forced Nepoznato to give the door his eye. It took both.
- A smile - Caedali drew a smile on a piece of paper. The door took it.
- An arm - Merja gave up her barlgura arm.
- The truth - Caedali gave up a piece of paper that stated "I am cursed".
- A friend - Kel sacrificed her friend, the magic item Whirl (get shit on, abandoned and discarded)
- The door finally opened, and the party continued on.
- The ninth floor, which preyed on the party's minds and attempted to attack them with their fears. The entire party emerged almost completely unscathed from this encounter, not phased in the least. This took the party no time at all.
Endelshine 2nd, 989 IaC
The group entered the tenth floor of the dungeon, coming up to a round platform suspended above a deep pit. The group met Beetleman here, who had been brought to the dungeon by the Left Hand. Beetleman had begun to study the notes of Kaeabel Startha, and the party soon found her journal, which alleged that the tower had been built to keep her frail son Nepoznato safe. Kaeabel had used her knowledge of magic to effectively make her son immortal, but as a side effect he would mend anything close to him, making him the mending artifact the Ossuate was seeking.
As the group spoke to Beetleman, the other members of Cloverhall appeared, having been teleported in by Darrod Lightvane, who seemed to have his magic torn from him by the dungeon as penance for "cheating". Tamidilly Rideonvattle, Erdo Elfast, Janis Tannerson, and Ayla Raddock all appeared alongside Erdo's new bride, the powerful Nepoznato. After a short conversation which resulted in Keluth deciding that Kel would be her next bride, some of the members of the party had their items "reforged" with Singing Steel, albeit crudely. Hearing noises down the opposite hall, Beetleman told the group that the Nepoznato would soon be coming through the halls to wipe out the dungeon's intruders, and they managed to convince him to help them hold the creatures back. The folks from Cloverhall stayed back to assist him as the party descended downwards to confront the Left Hand.
The group made it down into the bottom of the tenth level, where a massive cage contained Yeoan Startha, the mending artifact. Chains were being pulled off the metal of the cage into large furnaces, apparently mended by Yeaon's abilities. The group found their enemies surrounding the cage, attempting to get in.
After a brief conversation, the group engaged the Left Hand, the Right Hand, and Anise Taranil in battle, though they resolved to try and keep Anise alive, as they believed her to have been manipulated. Lambchop went directly for Anise as the others attempted to distract the Right Hand and attack the Ossuate. The Right Hand was enraged at Lambchop for attacking his lady, but was soon thrown into a fire by Steve. Merja sent her skunk after the Ossuate as she blasted the Ossuate with a powerful bolt of lightning and began to craft a clay vessel. Caedali and Ilryn engaged the flighty Ossuate as the Right Hand attacked Connor, who was bolstered by the Nepoznato. Kel offered support from afar as the fight continued, with the party not slowing down at all; a powerful smite from Caedali put the Ossuate on the defensive as a crit from the Right Hand was mitigated by Kel. Despite the Left Hands efforts to disarm and maim the party, nothing seemed to be terribly effective. Kel used some heavy damage she took to inflict great harm on the Right Hand using her dark talents of Patalir while Lambchop used his powerful defenses to shrug off a critical blow from the Left Hand. The party cornered the dark witch as a final blow was struck with a crit from Merja's skunk, activating the Ossuate's Contingency.
The party mopped up the rest of the fight pretty quickly. Caedali brought down the Right Hand but decided not to finish the job as Lambchop used his Nepoznato to nab Anise, dangling her over a pit as she passed out from whiplash. Steve, who could see into the Ethereal Plane, noticed the Ossuate, now without her flesh, was sneaking over to one of the furnaces. She then opened a crude tear in space, and subsequently disappeared into it. Kel quickly revived Connor and had him take care of the unconscious Anise and Right Hand as the party followed the Ossuate through the tear.
The group found themselves in a desolate prison with breathing stone walls heated with glowing fire and filled with thick iron chains. Following the trail of poison leaking out of the Ossuate, the party navigated the halls of the Prison of the Chained Flame. A man called out to the party to release him from a cell, prompting Kel to ask him what he knew about teeth. The man claimed that he could tell her many things if she released him, but Kel decided she would come back for him later. When asked what he had been jailed for, he replied that he once assisted the Thousand King.
The group attracted the attention of a Blue Jailer, a warden of the prison and elevated servant of Nepoznato, the god of judgement and incarceration. As the party navigated the tunnels with the Jailer hot on their tails, their minds were assaulted by the Thousand King, who continually beckoned them to free him; Lambchop and Merja, already low on sanity, eventually succumbed to his influence, resolving to free him while they were in the prion. Ilryn used her magic to influence Lambchop's mind, convincing him to wait a day before freeing the Thousand King, but Merja remained steadfast.
The party finally made it to a long hall, at the back of which was a large, black orb, the one they had seen in their dreams. The Ossuate was standing next to it, siphoning its energy into blasts of dark energy that pulsed down the hall towards them. Followed by the Blue Jailer, the group began to approach, rushing to and from places of cover to avoid the powerful, surging blasts of energy. Merja, seeking to free the Thousand King first, teleported next to the orb with a Dimension Door and began attacking the Ossuate as the party began to catch up. Steve dispelled a barrier around the room as the group descended upon the Ossuate, breaking her apart with blows aided by the Singing Steel. Fearing the Blue Jailer, the group huddled together and used a scroll of Teleport to move to a safe place, choosing Cloverhall as their destination.
The party arrived a bit of the way outside of Reedenford as the spell had gone somewhat awry, but had managed to escape the confines of the prison. Now located a bit off the road leading into town, the group continued to disable the Ossuate as Caedali began the ritual to extract her soul. Merja produced the kiln with the finished, tiny version of the Ossuate inside as the party offered their health and resources to bolster Caedali as the Ossuate fought back. The group exhausted almost everything they had to back up Caedali, and finally, she was able to pull out the twisted wretched soul of the Ossuate, placing it in its new, fragile vessel. The group then got to destroying the ceramic facsimile of their enemy, making sure to smash every last fragment of it into powder. The party finally destroyed the last vestige of her soul, sending a powerful wave of energy radiating outwards, parting the clouds in the sky. The Ossuate was thoroughly destroyed.
The party, exhausted from their days in the Tower of Startha, dragged themselves back to Reedenford, which was quiet. Evidence seemed to point out that the Grey Wings had abandoned it, but to be safe, they took the secret passage back in and settled in for a much-deserved rest. With many loose ends still open, they at least had managed to end one threat for good.
Endelshine 3rd, 989 IaC