Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dorben, entry 28 ---26th Flamerule--- Exploring the Keep’s new tower finds a horse on the roof and fire and water within

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
26th Flamerule, Year of the Haunting

---Well, it would seem that wherever it is that we go when the rainbow lights take us Aedron, Nia and I did not stay long. From the position of the sun, it seemed that we had been gone only several hours but it seemed that a small tower had been built in our absence. Meg assured us that we had been gone only a short time and that the tower had only recently added itself to the landscape, to the consternation of Kali and Euphestas’ poor horse. I shall endeavor to elaborate.

Evidently this small tower, truncated more like, had sprouted from the ground almost instantaneously. The construction at the top did seem to suggest that there had been more tower at some point. Other than its being a tower of only one floor and its sudden appearance, the edifice seemed to have only one remarkable feature. It was constructed of blocks of what appeared to be some sort of blue veined white marble. Other than that, it simply looked to be the base fifteen or so feet of an octagonal tower.

The tower’s sudden appearance apparently began at ground level and lifted the horse upon its roof. A good steady beast, it did not seem panicked, just quite put out and confused. Euphestas was already upon the rooftop, speaking to it in a calming manner. There was some thought about walking the animal down through the tower but the door was barred from within. I even tried the Key, which did seem to work the lock but did not actually unlock the door. I thought perhaps this might be because the interior was still frozen in stasis at that moment. Whatever the case, any involvement that door might have had in the return of that steed to solid ground was soon rendered moot when Euphestas cast a spell, spoke to the animal for a few moments and then led the animal directly down the tower wall. It seems the spell he cast must have been Spider Climb or possibly some druidic variant. The animal seemed happy enough to return to its equine compatriots and we turned our attention to the tower.

Euphestas made short work of the locks on the trapdoor he found upon the roof but found the door to be well and truly stuck. The rest of us made our way to the rooftop, some of us more gracefully than others. I was fairly unceremoniously hauled up by rope and harness. Thank goodness that Aedron is as strong as he is. In fact, it was Aedron’s strength that was the final ingredient in the opening of the trapdoor. Euphestas had made good use of his time while the rest of us were clambering to the rooftop and had completely cleared all manner of accumulated detritus from the frame about the door. Considering that this appeared to be yet another piece of our Keep come back to the world, it did not seem untoward to assume that the interior was indeed still held in some stasis. However, the outer surface seemed to have weathered at least some years somewhere. The stones of the walls were so closely joined that not even a line of dust could take purchase it seemed. However, in order for a door to work correctly there is required at least a small amount of gap between door and frame. And it was there that grit and grime had made its home for many years. With the way cleared, Aedron made one final heave at the door pull and opened our way to the tower interior.

We detected the smell of brimstone and sulfur from below as we descended the stairs. By this time we were familiar with the oddities of the Keep and knew to enter in combat readiness. The interior was not terribly well lit but we were able to see the remains of several bedsteads, possibly weapons racks upon the wall and a good round stone fireplace at the center. We quickly spotted two creatures that were quite clearly canines of infernal origin known as hellhounds. However, their leader, rising from its bed upon the central fire place, was not quite the same. It certainly did appear to be a hellhound, but the creature was at least the size of a heavy warhorse. As with any dogs braced in their den they were none too happy at our intrusion, but in this case, even more so.

The fiery breath of the hellhounds was really fairly effective, especially in that confined space. The two smaller hounds proved short work, especially with Aedron at the fore, but their larger pack leader proved quite a handful indeed. All my comrades lent their weaponry to the beating of that dog while I did my best to keep Aedron alive as the great hound chose him as its favorite chewing toy. I wish not to think too deeply upon what might have been if that cur’s attentions had been focused upon any other of us who were not as robust as good Aedron. The oversized pup began to lose even more ground when Euphestas was able to get behind the beasty. I’m sure I might have howled just as loudly were a dagger plunged forcefully into my nethers. Aedron then struck the monster a great blow with his axe, which burst with freezing cold at the moment of contact. The final blow came from Meg’s greatbow, right up the beast’s gullet. I know that Meg’s arrows are larger than average and do a good deal of damage, but this was a bit more than that. The arrow strike drove the creature bodily backwards from its perch upon the still burning fireplace and slammed it into the wall behind. I believe it is a good thing that Euphestas is no taller than he is, or he might have been struck by the carcass, rather than only momentarily being stuck beneath it.

We unbarred the door and hauled the carcasses outside. The stink was quite strong and Kaliki made use of a Prestidigitation spell to clear the smell and clean the blood from the walls. She also ended up using said spell to clean the chain shirt barding of red metal we found upon the great hound. I believe it was Nia who was able to identify the creature from some tale she had heard many years ago. It seems it is perhaps called a Nessian Warhound by its creators. Evidently, some of the infernal races go to great lengths of selective breeding and are able to produce these brutes as war steeds. Nasty creatures in my opinion.

We had some discussion about what to do with the remains of the infernal curs so as not to attract scavengers. Simply burying them was a possibility but we feared that they might somehow contaminate the ground and possibly the water in the area. Aedron suggested hauling them up into the mountains so that they might be flung into some glacial crevasse. I was fairly certain that his intent was to make them a sacrifice to his frigid goddess and I did not wish to take any part in such an endeavor. I understand that Aedron can show obeisance to the Cold One without being evil himself; he knows no better. However, I will NOT assist him in fulfilling a sacrifice dedicated to such a being.

The idea of trekking half a tenday up into the mountains and then back was fairly simply rejected. We also quickly cast aside the idea of a bonfire as it seemed doubtful that we could produce a fire hot enough to burn the carcasses. Finally, we decided that we would wrap the bodies for transport and make haste back to the town of West Wall at the Vaasan Gate. We had made several good contacts there and knew of a few who might be interested in the remains for use in spell components and the like. There was also a good chance that at least the hide of the Nessian might fetch a decent price, even if only as a curiosity.

We thought it wise to finish our exploration of the tower before we locked it and made our way to West Wall. After all, that trip is relatively short and we still had over half a day. Inside, we found that most of the furniture fairly well broken down; most likely beyond the help of even a skilled carpenter but perhaps a Mend or Make Whole spell might suffice.

We found another trap door to a lower area below the stairs from the upper floor. This one was not clogged with so much detritus and was soon opened. The stairs led down into a room virtually identical in dimensions and pattern. However, this room felt cool and damp and smelled rather earthy but clean. The walls appeared to be of the same material as above although perhaps more slick or polished, almost wet in appearance. There was no furniture here and at the center we found not a fireplace but a well surrounded by a short wall.

The dirt floor appeared dampish on first examination. A closer look at the walls revealed no more than ambient moisture although they certainly did look as if they might be more polished than those above. As we were examining the walls, we heard a quiet splash from the well. We moved toward the well cautiously but could see nothing in the depths of the well. The well shaft descended quite a few feet before we could see the reflections from the surface of the water. Even a Light spell cast upon a copper coin and dropped down the shaft revealed nothing. And then we did see something, or at least a glimmer of movement that might have been something.

Euphestas volunteered to descend and investigate. His swimming endeavor quickly revealed the presence of some watery denizen. It took roughly the form of a petite humanoid female and seemed to delight in kissing Euphestas. Considering how deep underwater he had drifted while kissing this unknown nymph, it was a good thing that her kiss allowed him to breath underwater. He told us about the experience after Aedron had hauled him back out of the well, saying that the breathing ability ended along with the kiss. Kaliki attempted to communicate with the watery wench but it seemed she was not interested in females. This was further proven when Nia volunteered and shimmied down the shaft as well. The liquid lady showed no more than passing interest in Nia and if that is not proof that the creature does not desire girls, then I don’t know what is. She does seem to have a bit of a thing for shorter men, or at least she didn’t mind kissing Sa’d when he too decided to dive into the well. Aedron nabbed the end of that unbelievable long scarf as he leapt over the lip of the well and was able to use the wooly thing to haul Sa’d back up. And I thought Nia was impulsive. May the Silver Lady save me from Tymoran’s who believe in testing their luck perhaps a bit too much. Although in Sa’d’s case, it seems as if he doesn’t care either way; he just wants to do, and then see what happens. In my humble opinion, Sa’d is living proof that there is no minimum height requirement for insanity. But he’s our insane Tymoran halfling, so we’ll keep him.

None of us seemed to speak a language through which we might communicate with the lovely creature in the well. Unfortunately, none of us had the proper spells prepared which might allow such a thing either. I volunteered that I could prepare the needed spells upon the morrow and we could try to learn more about our watery roommate. We did a little digging and found there was indeed a full marble floor beneath a layer of slightly moist dirt several inches thick. Again, something more to investigate upon the morrow, or perhaps the next day. At the moment we are making ready to ride for West Gate town to sell off the hellhound carcasses and perhaps do some shopping.

Oh my, perhaps we have made our plans too soon. I can see the coruscating rainbow lights again enveloping my companions and now myself. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon…

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