Lost in the Maze

Sometime after the attack on Waterdeep, Roscoe received a flying snake with a note from another agent of the Zhentarim. Within the note was a letter from a member of the Cult of the Dragon named Iskander, who claimed to want to defect with the blue dragon mask from a place called Xonthal’s Tower. Roscoe showed the letter to his friends. They took it to the council.

Everyone seemed to be of one accord: It was most likely a trap, but the risk was worth it, especially if the heroes could secure the tower for the alliance. Given its relative proximity to the Well of Dragons, the alliance would like to use it in the coming assault on the cult.

The heroes agreed to go investigate. Once again taking advantage of the Harpers’ secret teleportation network, the heroes zipped to Loudwater, then Keo turned them all into clouds and they wind-walked the rest of the way to the village of Xonthal’s Tower.

In the village, they learned that the maze surrounding the tower was magical and quite probably extradimensional. It was designed to keep people out but was also the only way to gain access to the interior of the tower. As the heroes stood at the entrance, gazing inside, they saw a figure up on a balcony near the top of the tower. Using magic to amplify his voice, the figure waved something that could have been the blue dragon mask and yelled out to find him in the dungeon below, accessible only with an hourglass-shaped key. Another figure appeared on the balcony and attacked the first but was ultimately thrown off the balcony. The first figure ran back inside.

Realizing they didn’t have time to dawdle, the heroes climbed over the fence the villagers had erected in front of the maze entrance to keep children and animals out and proceeded down the gently curving pathway. They soon came to an intersection with a sundial at its center. Even though the sun was setting to the west, the sundial cast a shadow straight ahead.

For some reason, they chose to turn around and go back the way they’d come. Instead of ending up back at the entrance, they instead encountered a dao disguised as a man, who invited them to join him for tea in a pagoda perched on a rock in the middle of a pond. The dao attempted to trap them with a wall of stone and poison them with drakeswort fumes, but the heroes resisted. After defeating the earth genie, they found a gem inside its tea pot.

Moving on, they returned to the same sundial (or an identical one). This time they decided to take the path towards which the shadow was pointing. After a short while, they came to another intersection with a sundial in the middle (or was it the same one?), only this time there were two shadows, pointing at right angles to each other!

Taking a path seemingly at random, the heroes came across a large, circular pool with another gem floating above its center. As Flint used his mage hand to collect the gem, four overgrown lobster-like monsters – which the wizard recognized as chuuls – emerged from the water to attack. As Flint and the others grappled with the creatures’ massive claws and paralyzing tentacles, the wizard remembered that the creatures liked magic items. He took out Dragongleam, the magic spear the party had found in Talis’ hunting lodge but had never used, and commanded it to shed light before tossing it into the pool. Sure enough, the chuuls all dove back into the water (with the exception of one that Keo had confused), and the heroes were free to escape with the captured gem.

This brought them back to the sundial with two shadows, although it may have been a different one. It was hard to tell, as the maze was extremely disorienting. Although they could almost always see Xonthal’s tower rising above the hedge walls, it never seemed to stay in one place. Marking their passage through the maze proved futile as well, as their markings either disappeared or the maze never allowed them to return to the same place twice. It was all thoroughly confusing.

The next path they took brought them to a large field full of boulders. To one side was a sheep pen and an oversized cottage. In the middle of the field were some sheep being tended by two cyclopes. All of the creatures seemed frozen in time but they came to life as soon as the heroes entered the area. The cyclopes played some kind of game and the loser came towards the heroes, picking up a massive boulder along the way. Instead of hurling it at the heroes, however, it turned and tossed it most of the way down the field. Both cyclopes then looked at the heroes expectantly. Keo approached and spoke to the cyclops in Giant, learning that they were expected to toss a boulder of their own further than the one the cyclops had tossed.

After some discussion of options, Flint ended up using stone shape to transform a boulder into pumice. Skie was then able to hurl it with enough force that it ended up bouncing past the cyclopes’ boulder, which promptly split open, revealing another gem inside. Roscoe took the gem and the group left.

They came back to the sundial with two shadows (or another one just like it). This time they took the path between the two shadows, which led them straight to an intersection with a sundial with three shadows! These shadows formed a Y shape. They chose to take the path leading between the two arms of the Y, which brought them to a fourth sundial. This one had four shadows, and as they approached it, the shadows began to swirl faster and faster and grew smaller and smaller until they disappeared within the center of the sundial.

Unsure of how to proceed, the heroes took another path at random, which led them to a carpeted area with bits of armor strewn all about and several suits of plate armor on pedestals to either side.

As the heroes entered, two of the suits came to life and attacked. As the battle progressed, the heroes discovered that each time they destroyed one suit of armor, two more animated. Once all six full suits animated, bits and pieces from the ground started coming together to form more suits.

Although a gem had rolled out of the first suit they’d destroyed, it took the heroes a while to battle their way through to the other end. Flint even went down at one point, surrounded by suits. They stopped attacking him once he was down, though, and he managed to stay alive long enough for his companions to rescue him by hooking him with a grappling hook and pulling him out from between the suits of armor.

After reviving Flint, they pressed on and returned to the sundial with the swirling shadows (or another one just like the first). Stumped, they slumped to the ground to catch their breath and have a think.

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