Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dorben, Entry 23 ---16th Flamerule thru 18th Flamerule--- We finish with the Tower and spend some time in the town of West Wall

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
Addendum, 16th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---We have brought to an end our bid to liberate Master Kelso’s Tower and all but finished our business with young Barlo. Although we are not completely satisfied with the conclusion of the Tower expedition, it can still be accounted as a success, all in all. Master Kelso and his library are intact and the invaders have left. But, as always, I’ve gotten my conclusions ahead of my explanations. Back to the beginning and only then proceed to the end, as my writing teacher used to say.

Well then. The examination of the steel doors proved futile. The doors were actually slightly larger than the opening, sealing flush with the other side. No handles at all on our side and guards on the other that seemed much less than cooperative. Even if we had been able to ascertain the password, there seemed little chance that we might convince the guards that we were their comrades.

It rapidly became clear that we would have to find another path if we were to gain access to the upper floors. Sa’d pointed out the glass dart trap at the double stair entrance and reminded us that he was not confident that we could all pass by it unscathed. We bypassed the trap through the simple expedient of stuffing the largest lizardman body into the doorway and carefully stepping over. The simplest plans are often the most effective and we carried on.

We crawled through the shortened hallway to the bathing chamber without seeing evidence of the blast we had heard earlier. We found said evidence as soon as we opened the door that opened from the towel storage room onto the servants’ stair landing. Well, it had opened onto the landing when last we passed this way. That was no longer so. The door opened only grudgingly and we found ourselves looking at a veritable wall of rubble. Whatever had been stored within those spheres had apparently been something VERY volatile.

It was unclear whether the spheres had exploded on the upper landing or if they had been rolled down the stair and unleashed their conflagration on this level. It is clear that there must have been an accident of some kind. Even kobolds and lizardkin are not insane enough to cause an explosion of such a magnitude that they themselves were unable to escape it. And enough remains were visible to tell us that, yes; a good deal of reptilians had perished in the explosion and collapse. I would hazard a guess that their intent had been to carefully pour the contents of those spheres down the stairs to unleash whatever power it contained upon us, their enemy. It seems likely the trap Sa’d and Aedron had rigged with the siege crossbows must have interfered with their carefully laid plan. Possibly rupturing one or both spheres and suddenly releasing their entire contents in one violent and decidedly destructive eruption.

The eruption had also effectively destroyed almost the entirety of the grand stair landing. The destruction was slightly different in this case however. It looked as if, in this case, the large urns we had left near the landing door had been blown apart and ejected their contents over the landing. This of course then interacted with the black goo, creating the very powerful acid we had seen demonstrated by Sa’d’s investigation earlier. The swath of destruction had swept outwards for the most part, leaving the rest of the grand stair almost untouched. It then occurred to several of us that G’laern had mentioned a secret door that could be reached by way of the bell rope.

We carefully made our way back down to the base of the grand stair. Being the lightest, Sa’d ascended the bell rope first. He was able to find the outline of the secret door and seemed to detect some noise on the other side. Sa’d descended and Nia volunteered to ascend with a grappling hook. She did something which made the door pop open. Interestingly, the door opened out and down. There were several kobolds waiting on the other side of that door and began to shoot at Nia as soon as she was revealed. The first thing they shot her with was some kind of net launcher. The net was covered in some tarry substance and wrapped Nia up quite effectively. Luckily enough, the net encased the rope as well, effectively sticking Nia to that rope. Unluckily, the next shot from the kobold crossbows was aimed at the bell rope. Their aim was dead on, the bell rope was severed cleanly and Nia fell. Luckily again, Aedron was able to catch Nia with little damage to either of them.

The kobolds next tried to use the rope attached to the trap door to pull it back into place. Tit for tat, Sa’d shot at and severed that rope. We could hear the kobolds nattering between themselves and soon saw one of them being supported by its belt by the others as it leaned far out to grasp the door handle. Frustration was mounting within me and it was only then that I thought that what we really needed was somebody to fly up there and give those little wretches what-for. So I then cast a Fly spell upon Aedron and asked him to kindly fly up there and take those annoying little buggers apart. It had occurred to me earlier that having Aedron fly up to the door would be useful but Nia had volunteered so quickly to be the first up the rope that it slipped my mind at the time.

Aedron did indeed fly up to the secret door, but went one better as he carried Sa’d up with him. Aedron easily pulled open the door despite the kobolds’ efforts. He and Sa’d began laying into the kobolds with fervor. I was busily helping Nia cut herself loose from the gooey net as she berated me for not casting Fly on her in the first place. I attempted explaining how her volunteering had made it slip my mind and how a flying Aedron was much more useful. The discussion quickly became a circular argument and I dropped it as useless banter.

By this time, the kobolds had retreated from the belfry room and locked the door behind them. Aedron made short work chopping through the door as grappling hooks were strung for the rest of us to ascend. Sa’d was the first to enter the hall beyond the belfry room door but he found no trace of the kobolds that had escaped. What he did find as soon as he turned the corner was a hallway weaved all through with rope hooked into the walls. He figured that even creatures of kobold size would have been slowed quite a bit by this crazy quilt but there were no kobolds within sight. He quickly went to the hall on the other side and found the same thing. And again, we found ourselves apparently stymied and stalled.

We explored a bit. To one side we found the remains of the stair where the explosion had occurred. There was an actual hole to the outside at this level, with most of the rubble pile just below. Aedron was right on his game, I must say. As soon as he asked me how long the Fly spell would last and got my answer, he flew out the hole. He returned fairly soon, after making a complete circuit. He found that the kobolds from the belfry had apparently evaded us by swinging around the outside of the tower on a rope strung for just such a purpose. They had gone out the arrow slits in the merlon on one corner of the tower and swung to the adjacent corner. Apparently there are benefits to having smaller than average troops that will follow any order despite the danger.

Aedron also reported that he had found what must be the library just one floor above us. He said there was a balcony with a great deal of glass doors opening onto it and he was able to see a man sitting in a room filled with many shelves and many books. He saw nobody else in the room with the man however. He also hadn’t seen any kobolds or lizard folk when he looked in the arrow slits on the far side of the tower. It was beginning to become apparent that the leaders of the invading force had perhaps already left the tower.

Thinking that the spider web of rope trap might be easier to decipher from the far side, Sa’d had Aedron carry him to that side before the Fly spell wore off. There was a slight concerned pause as Sa’d discovered four of the ceramic spheres resting in the far hall. However, three of them proved to be empty and the fourth contained what turned out to be a fairly potent liquor or some type. Sa’d quickly figured out that there was no trap connected the ropes; they were simply a means to slow any progress through those halls. The crew soon began to cut away at the ropes so we might pass through. With this slight lull in our progress, I thought to find out how Skippy had weathered the blast and destruction which occurred just above the kitchen.

Aedron assisted my descent down the climbing ropes and I made my way to the kitchen. What I found there was not heartening. The greater part of the ceiling had collapsed, knocking the upper cupboards off the walls to come to rest upon the lower countertops. But the construction of that kitchen must have been first rate for the ceiling descended no further. I could hear some slight creaking and groaning from above but it did not appear that the ceiling would be descending any further too soon. I found Skippy right where I expected; in his cupboard, clinging to the towel ring. The poor little fellow seemed in a sort of cataleptic shock; his hands were frozen in a death grip upon the towel ring, his muscles rigid, and he made no acknowledgement of the world around him. It was easier to pull the ring loose from the wood of the cupboard door than it would have been to release his grip, so that is what I did. I swaddled him in a rough blanket and set him in the top of my backpack. It was a snug fit but a fit nonetheless. I also spotted what appeared to be a few personal belongings in the cupboard and put those in with Skippy as well. I then returned to the grand stair room and Aedron very kindly assisted me in climbing back up.

The halls had been cleared of rope in the short time I had been gone. To be thorough, we explored the few rooms we found on this floor before ascending to the next. The single room in one hall proved to be something of a common hall, where I had seen the kobolds being served breakfast through the Chain of Eyes spell. The other hall yielded three rooms which were apparently the private quarters of some of the higher ranking monks. The rooms looked to have been ransacked for loot. Too bad for the kobolds that many monks don’t really believe terribly much in the accumulation of worldly goods. The far side of the tower, opposite from where we had entered by way of the belfry, was of course the top of the double stair where the steel doors had been installed. We found one of the doors had been left unbarred. At this point it was readily apparent that the invaders were making their way out of the Tower. But our assignment had been to protect Master Kelso and his library, so that was our next destination. After all, the open door could easily have been nothing but a clever ploy to get us all on the other side of those steel doors once again.

Thinking that there might still be invaders above, possibly planning to use Master Kelso as a bargaining chip, we elected to cast an Invisibility spell upon Aedron so that we might have a secret backup just in case. Our caution proved unneeded as we were soon led into the library by G’laern and presented to his Master Kelso. Master Kelso greeted us kindly and offered tea, explaining that the commanders of the invading force had already departed. He mentioned that the invaders had seemed to be working with time as of the essence. They wished to ascertain the knowledge they sought and depart before we caused them too much trouble. Master Kelso did not choose to check what knowledge it was the reptilians were seeking but he was kind enough to point out the section of the library in which they had seemed most interested.

We would have perhaps liked to peruse that section of books to possibly gain a clue as to what the reptilians had been seeking but more pressing matters presented themselves. In passing, Master Kelso mentioned that the commanders had left only minutes before we had entered his library. Considering the state of some of the lower stairs, we thought we might have a chance to catch up to them and so eliminate them as a further threat. I left poor Skippy in G’laern’s capable hands and we made our way toward the lower floors. On the double stair, we found that two of the lizard folk had done a little housekeeping on their way out. The bodies of the Mr. Unholy and Mr. Shuriken had both been removed. They must have been thought important to the commanders although Mr. Plate and Mr. Psion had not been removed. Considering this, it seems possible that this expedition might have had some kind of religious urging? Or perhaps their military force had simply been established under the leadership of a commander with some sort of religious bent? We can only wonder.

We soon gained the ground floor and found the barricade we had set at the door to the cellar floors had been removed. Continuing down, we found no trace of the animated suit of armor but we did find the large contraption that Bug had described to us. It looked to be a very large box, approximately 8’ high by 6’ wide by 20’ long, adorned with levers, cranks and grates. With a few more pulleys, some filigree and perhaps a steam powered whistle, it might have done a Lantanese gnomish Gondsman proud. From all the sand laying about and what Bug had earlier reported, its purpose was fairly clear. Exactly how it worked was a mystery however. There were also several mine carts nearby, presumably for the hauling of the sand which somehow bore the mithral dust. But there was no sign of where this sand was coming from. The only other egress from the room was a stairwell to one side that descended downward. But that appeared to be nothing more or less than another stairway, not a mine shaft.

We endeavored to explore this deeper stairwell. And well it was. This stair descended downward into the floor through a hole that extended perhaps the height of a tallish man along the length of the stair. This of course meant Aedron had to slouch quite a bit and myself as well although to a lesser degree, as we began to descend the stairway. We were not on those stairs long however. Things began to happen as we descended far enough down the stair to see that there was another steel door at its base. There was a fairly standard spy slot in the door at average man’s eye height and another hole, this one round, perhaps a quarter of the height of the door above the floor. We had just a moment to notice a beady pair of eyes peering at us from the lower hole before all Annauroch hell broke loose upon us.

A wind began to blow from through the aperture in the door. It built in speed and strength and then proved to be simply a precursor to the real power yet to come. Coarse sand soon mixed into the wind and began to scour at us. The sand storm continued to build in intensity, to the point where it was capable of peeling skin from our bodies, and we were forced to retreat from the confines of the stairwell. I have heard tell of natural sand storms in the Annauroch which may gain such intensity but this was certainly a spell. Again, I have heard tell of such things but not seen one myself until now. The wind continued to gain intensity and more sand continued to accumulate as we regained the room of the contraption. The force of the sand was lessened here but only a little. Aedron, again at the top of his form, grasped one of the mining carts and heaved it bodily into the maw of the stairwell. It proved just the right size to jam in the stair opening and was soon joined by the second, which completely plugged the hole.

The storm, or at least its noise, finally ceased some minutes later. Removing the mine carts made us wonder if the spell had actually ended its time or if there simply was no longer any room for any more sand. The stair was simply packed to the seams with sand. Considering what we had seen of the construction of the door below, it seemed Master Kelso’s tower might not need to worry about any invasion from that point of entry. From what we saw of the door, it appeared to open into the stairwell from the other side. With so much sand hard packed against it on this side, it would take quite an endeavor to open it again.

We returned to the library to inform Master Kelso that his invaders had departed and we informed him of the stairs and the contraption now present in his cellars. He did not seem concerned in the least and seemed assured that G’laern and his students would be more than able to handle things from here on in. He seemed slightly amused after we told him of young Barlo coming to us seeking help. He mentioned that Barlo was still young and excitable but at least we would have no worries about being rewarded for our efforts. He informed us that Barlo is from a family that is quite successful in the local merchant trade; perhaps the third most wealthy family in the region. Considering that it was Barlo who had summoned us, he seemed to think it only fitting that he provide the reward as well. Our thoughts exactly, considering that Barlo had basically offered the spoils of the Tower as our initial reward, even when he knew they were not his to offer. I will give the young man the benefit of the doubt and assume it was simply youthful confused exuberance and not deliberate deceit.

We left Skippy with G’laern and he assured me the little kobold would be treated well. A quick trip to town and we then returned to the Tower with a wagon so that we might clear away the loot we had collected from the reptilian invaders. The wagon was needed mainly to carry the four large spheres and the full plate armor of the lizardman warrior. We had offered to clear the bodies of the fallen invaders from the tower but Master Kelso seemed to think that would be good duty for his soon to return students. Well, we had at least offered.

It was not quite early evening when we returned again through the towering gates of the Vaasa Gate wall to the town of West Wall. Far from the first adventurers to come through the gate with a wagon of loot, the guards barely batted an eye. At least until Nia made her presence known to them. I believe she is ensconced in her room right now with her current cream of the crop. It seems that turning hard gotten loot into spendable coinage bores her, as do so many things, and she is looking to assuage that boredom two strapping young guards at a time.

We found Barlo here in town easy enough and sought him out to tell him that his Master’s tower was once more relatively safe for occupancy. Although, we told him that the Tower was in need of a good dwarven repair crew as a significant amount of one corner was missing. He seemed a bit taken aback by all the information we were heaping upon him but recovered soon enough. Barlo said he would be able to contact the other monks from the school soon enough so that they could all return. Toward the end of our conversation I brought the subject of payment up with Barlo. He assured us that he would be able to collect sufficient funds within a few days and we agreed to meet him at Master Kelso’s tower to complete the arrangement.

In truth, with Meg’s bargaining ability and the amount of interesting loot we had collected from the reptilians, we are already almost assured a fair amount of monetary reward from this venture. My pursuit of remuneration from Barlo was more in the spirit of teaching our young benefactor an object lesson. To wit, if one engages the services of a group of adventurers to drive kobold invaders from your tower, and offer any loot found as treasure, one should be sure that the contents of said tower are yours to offer and not actually the property of your teacher. After all, it was Barlo who asked for our help, NOT Master Kelso. In fact, we would not have been aware that Master Kelso was most likely still resident within the Tower if not for Captain Vildorn. I hope this may teach young Barlo a lesson.

We have decided to stay here in West Wall for several days. The things we have brought back from the tower are quite diverse and it will take some time and effort to find buyers. Also, there are several items we have already identified as enchanted which we need to cast Identify spells over so as to learn their abilities. A few have already been earmarked for immediate sale to fund further spells and the like. Thank goodness we have good Meg along on our travels. We would not be nearly as well equipped as we are if not for her. Not to mention I would not have my good steed, Farran if not for Meg’s expert trade skills. Also, during our stay I shall be spending some goodly time at my Lady’s temple here. I shall volunteer, pay my tithing and seek further enlightenment from our Shining Lady.

We have returned to our rooms at the interesting rooming house called The Wall. I have still not seen Nia nor her companions reemerge from her room. Though I do believe I saw a platter of food and drink being taken upstairs a short time ago. Ah well, at least they are keeping up their strengths. Such exuberance. I feel I must reiterate that this place, The Wall, is surprisingly cozy if a little sparse, with only a few luxuries. Bathing facilities are available and I believe it shall be my turn soon enough. The travails of the adventuring path certainly do make one greater appreciate the civilized comforts. And even better, I still have the very last of the bath oil with the light musky pine and wintergreen scent. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
17th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---Oh glorious day! A new path was revealed to me while I prayed last eve! I shall be quickly away to my Lady’s temple so that they might know. My eyes have been opened to many new things; so many things that it seems almost as if I have been granted new eyes. The ways of my Lady’s Divine Oracles have been revealed unto me and I shall twine that path into my own. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

17th Flamerule, Evening addendum

---The glories which have been shown to me this day are indeed wonderful. More spells to serve my Lady have been revealed. Also, I found a tutor who was able to teach me a further way to expand my healing abilities to assist others. I must share this news with my good friends. Well, other than Nia for the moment. The girl is insatiable. Ah, well. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*****

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
18th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---I have been able to help Meg with the Identify spells thanks to the spells which I have learned with my newly widened perceptions of the paths Our Silver Lady lays before her people. It seems that I may be waxing a bit too exuberantly at the moment but I believe this is simply the shine of new discovery overtaking me somewhat. I shall calm down soon enough. The Identify spell is quite lengthy compared to many other spells, I must say, but it is also quite interesting and significantly enlightening.

The most enlightening was the odd leather pouch we recovered from one of the lizardmen on the split stair. It appears to be nothing more than a well made leather coin pouch but it is surrounded by several floating motes of sparkling light. Looking inside revealed nothing but darkness and reaching within soon revealed the bag to be much deeper than its physical possibility. We found more powdered mithral within the bag. But this was not simply an extradimensional storage receptacle. Our first clue was the large wooden object we soon touched when reaching within the bag. There was a good deal of mithral dust upon this wooden object and we could not figure how it might be extricated from the bag.

It was only after the casting of the Identify spell that we gained answers to our questions. The pouch is actually a Portal, presumably linked to what we assume to possibly be a storage room in some unknown destination. With that in mind, we gathered as much of the mithral dust as we could reach and withdrew it to our side of the pouch. We will be keeping that pouch closed and secured from now on, I can tell you. It is even possible that we might dispose of the pouch but that seems unsure. In all, including the three pouches we first found in the Tower, we have in our possession approximately 14 ½ pounds of mithral. I believe that is quite a considerable amount. Now we only need to figure what to do with it. I look forward to seeing the look on the face of the smith upon whom we decide to impart this largesse.

Traipsing about with Meg as she works her trading skills is a good day about town as well as good exercise. The buyers for different items are of course in different parts of the market and/or the town. I have seen a good deal of West Wall this day. It is truly a veritable adventurers dream.

Speaking of exercise, I believe Nia has still not left her room. I believe the roster of companionship may have changed but the game is still the same. I do hope she doesn’t cause herself an injury. Judging from the occasional sounds heard in the rest of the rooming house, they are definitely having a good time. It certainly seems that Nia is not bored at least.

As it turned out, Barlo was as good as his word, and then some. We made our way out to Kelso’s Tower during the afternoon as Barlo had requested. In the short two days’ time, Barlo collected quite a significant reward. Although he mentioned that he was able to collect “only” 4200 gp worth of bloodstone bars. For goodness sake; what would this fellow consider a sizeable reward?

Interestingly enough, we are not changing all of our hard won booty into coinage. We have also had most of the gemstones we recovered officially appraised and those stones have been added to our holdings, wrapped in their appraisal scrips. They are more portable than their equal amount in coin and one never knows when a deep blue spinnel valued at some 700 gp value will be just the thing needed for some purpose. We also recovered a good deal of rough gemstones from the invaders. Meg believes those stones may fetch a better price if we engage a gem cutter to have them shaped for us, rather than simply selling them as rough stones. It seems a wise course which we will most likely pursue.

Ah well, we have more to do on the morrow and I believe there is a lovely young lady attempting to catch my attention. Yes, definitely so. Well, far be it from me to be rude. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

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