Xonthal’s Tower

In which our heroes explore Xonthal’s tower.

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Note: This recap covers several sessions.

After taking another wrong turn in the maze, the group came across a long corridor lined with gigantic flowers, each one with a pearl in the center of it. Roscoe couldn’t help himself and tried to grab one, only to have the flowers animate and attack! The heroes ran away only to find themselves turned around and coming right back to the garden again. They wisely chose to take one out from a safe distance and then Flint used mage hand to pick up the pearl. This allowed them to return to the sundial.

By this time, Skie had had enough of this place. In frustration, she climbed up on the sundial only to find herself getting sucked down inside. The others were astonished but quickly followed suit. They all found themselves being unceremoniously dumped around yet another sundial (or was it the same one?). This time, however, there were eight shadows, one pointing to each of the eight paths.

Again, Skie was not having any of it. She looked over the hedge for the direction of the tower and headed straight for it, cutting her way through the hedge in the process. She disappeared through the hedge. When she didn’t reappear, the others followed again, and they were all amazed to find themselves standing at the base of the tower!

Looking back, they could see a straight path leading past the sundial and back out to the village. They had solved the maze! That said, there still didn’t seem to be any way inside the tower. Unless the teleportation circle on the ground in front of them was the way. They stepped onto it as a group and almost immediately were transported into an antechamber. Two balconies overlooked a room containing a long table. A dead cultist lay on the floor. A panel covered in symbols was set into the wall behind them.

Roscoe had Keo lift him up so he could see over the edges of the balconies. Nothing of interest was up there, so the curious halfling took a good look at the symbols on the panel instead. Since there were no stairs, the group figured they would have to teleport around the tower. Roscoe suggested trying the star symbol first, as it probably indicated an observatory of some kind, which would most likely be at the top of the tower, where the balcony was.

Roscoe turned out to be correct! As the group examined the observatory, a group of cultists came through a door leading out onto the balcony and attacked! One appeared to be the leader, a mage of sorts, but he was quickly taken down by the heroes’ combined might. But one of his underlings grabbed an hourglass-shaped device from his leader’s body and made a dash for the teleport pad, vanishing before the heroes could stop him.

They’d seen which symbol he’d pressed and followed, finding themselves in a shrine of sorts, with an altar in the center of the room with the skeletal arms of a dragon attached to it. There were numerous cultists in the room, the walls of which were adorned with pictures of skeletal dragons.

Keo used his magic to paralyze the cultist with the hourglass key and quickly retrieved it, but not before one of the other cultists had animated the skeletal arms, which swiped at him as he came within reach.

The heroes retreated back to the teleport pad and went back to the antechamber, where they figured out that they had to press the hourglass device to the teleport pad in order to make it work. They found themselves in a dungeon corridor in which the bodies of several cultists lay dead. There was also a bit of blood leading down a side corridor.

Flint turned Roscoe invisible and the halfling crept down the corridor. At the end, he found a laboratory guarded by several elemental beings in plate armor. On a table behind them stood a small chest. Unable to resist, he crept past the guardians, as silent as a mouse, and managed to lift the chest without making a sound. He crept back to the others. Inside the chest were some scrolls of protection that would help them against the elementals.

As it happened, the scrolls didn’t work all that well, as the group still ended up having to fight their way past the elementals. Luckily, there was a way out near the way in, and the elementals didn’t pursue them out of the room they guarded.

Beyond the lab, there was another side passage leading to a closed door and some stairs leading down. Roscoe went and listened at the door. Hearing a whirling sound, he decided to leave it for now and crept down the stairs instead. He found himself staring at a stone path that led out into a black, starry void. Several doors stood on the edge of the path, with no walls to support them.

Feeling a bit disturbed, Roscoe reported back to the others. They decided to ignore a side passage at the top of the stairs and head down to the first door at the bottom. This door opened into a library. Flint was overjoyed and wanted to give it a good once over. The others agreed. Roscoe found a fake book on the bottom shelf at the back of the room and pulled on it, revealing a secret door in the bookshelf that opened into another room containing a magic view screen showing nothing but flames … before Roscoe could take a closer look, however, hundreds of sheets of parchment stacked neatly by a desk whirled up into the air, forming into swarms of paper birds that proceeded to attack the heroes!

As the paper swarms seemed endless, the heroes retreated out into the strange corridor, finding to their great relief that the swarms did not follow them. Roscoe went to find out what was at the other end of the path through the void. As he proceeded down, he had to dodge some little meteors that went streaking past him suddenly. At the far end, he found another door, a passage to the left leading to a second door, and a passage to the right that actually had walls and a ceiling!

As the heroes proceeded cautiously down the path, Skie was hit by meteors and knocked off the path. In a flash, she disappeared into the void! Unbeknownst to her stunned companions, she soon found herself falling through the ceiling into a room that appeared to be a private study. Picking herself up, she went for a door in the wall, which opened up in the bookshelf, ten feet off the floor of the library!

Hearing Skie call from the still-open library door, the others hurried back across the treacherous path to find their friend still alive! What a strange place this was!

This time they all managed to get across the path safely. Roscoe peeked through the door directly ahead and found it to be an empty storage cupboard. Creeping up the normal passage to the right, the heroes discovered an efreeti playing a game by himself in the middle of a closed room. Keo noticed a line of salt along the floor at the door and surmised that the genie was trapped within.

The group decided not to bother the efreeti and went to the other door, which opened into an hourglass-shaped room with two giant hourglasses in it. Roscoe could see the glint of gems within the sand in the hourglasses. More importantly, though, they had found the defector, Iskander! Or at least what was left of him. He appeared to be dead of wounds he’d suffered at the hands of his fellow cultists and the elemental guardians at the other end of the dungeon. In his cold hand was clutched the blue dragon mask!

Flint took the mask and looked it over. He then cast detect magic and was surprised to pick up a number of magic auras from the gems inside the hourglasses! Smashing the glass from a safe distance, the heroes proceeded to sift through the spilled sand to pick out the magic gems. After Flint had inspected them, he discovered that each one could be used to teleport a short distance once. After its power was used, the gem would disappear. What an interesting find!

Before departing the dungeon, the heroes looted the library, finding some valuable books on various subjects, and checked out the side door with the whirling sound coming from the other side. There was another lab on the other side, with a great whirlwind spinning around in the middle of the room, several gems whirling around within it.

Once again, Roscoe couldn’t help himself and tried to catch a gem. He actually managed it a few times before merely knocking one out of the whirlwind. As it shattered, it summoned an angry earth elemental! Before they group knew it, two more gems had smashed, and they were faced with an air elemental and a fire elemental as well! They retreated, leaving the earth and fire elementals to duke it out with each other while they dealt with just the air elemental.

The heroes then decided it would be a good idea to rest before heading back into the upper levels of the tower. Nothing came to bother them in this strange, extra-dimensional space. Once they were refreshed, they made a mad dash past the elemental guardians and made it safely back to the teleport pad.

They battled their way through the tower only to find a blue dragon waiting for them outside. It turned out to be none other than Lennithon, the blue dragon that had assisted the cult in its raid on the town of Greenest! The dragon wanted them to hand over the blue mask, which Flint had determined was an elaborate fake. Not wanting to let the dragon know that they knew it was a fake (because they weren’t sure if it knew), they refused to hand it over at first. They tried to flee, but the remaining cultists and the dragon stopped them.

Eventually they agreed to hand the mask over to the dragon and then Keo turned everyone into mist and they fled through the maze, past the burning ashes of the village, and back out over the wilderness to Loudwater, where they took the secret Harper teleportation circle back to Waterdeep.

There they reported to the council that they had defeated the cultists in the tower but had been unable to take it because of the dragon. They also told them how the mask had been a fake. The factions were all rather disappointed by this turn of events.

 

Greenest in Flames

Our Story Begins
Our four would-be heroes found themselves arriving in Greenest just as the sun was setting. They all conveniently gathered at the Lonely Demon Inn, a quiet but cozy place on the northwest edge of town. The proprietor, a grizzled old fellow with an eyepatch, introduced himself as Darvin “Folks round here call me ‘Patchy'” Nighthill. He proceeded to ply them with food, drink, and lots of questions.

When the elf, Erevan, explained that he was something of an entertainer, Patchy asked him to sing “one of those sad elvish ballads.” Erevan happily obliged, the result bringing a tear to the old man’s one remaining eye. Sniffing, he explained that he’d spent some time with the elves of the Misty Forest when he was younger, and that song had brought back memories.

Next Patchy turned to the human woman, Mara, taking in her fine clothes and noble bearing. She had little to say other than that she cherished her greataxe, a family heirloom. Patchy nodded, pointing to the beaten up old shield and mace hanging from the wall behind the bar. They looked like they’d seen a lot of use. “There’s nothing like having a trusty weapon by your side,” he remarked.

The dwarf, Flint, proved to be as taciturn as Mara, if not even more so, but Patchy just shrugged and said he could respect that, acknowledging that many dwarves don’t have much to say to strangers before moving on to Keo. He recognized the tall druid as a goliath, saying he’d met some in the mountains once. Keo apologized for his lack of manners, for not knowing how to use the utensils Patchy had given him, and asked if it would be all right if he just ate with his hands. Patchy replied that he’d eaten with his hands while living it rough in the wilds plenty of times.

As the four adventurers tucked into their meals, Patchy began regaling them with tales from his youth. At one point, he asked if any of them had ever fought a dragon. They shook their heads. “Well, I have!” he exclaimed, before launching into yet another tale. As he was describing the dragon’s approach, the inn suddenly shook as something heavy flew overhead. A moment later, there was a loud crack of lightning, followed by an explosion from somewhere else in the village. “Just like that,” deadpanned Patchy.

The four turned to look at him quizzically. “Folks, I do believe the town is being attacked by a dragon,” Patchy replied flatly, over the screams coming from outside. The old man grabbed his mace and shield from off the wall and announced that he was going to draw the dragon away from the town. “Who’s with me?” he shouted.

Before the adventurers could respond, a commotion from outside the front of the inn caught their attention. Turning to look out the inn’s windows, they could see an injured man shepherding three young children across the street. They were followed by a young woman clutching a shield and a broken spear. Stopping in the middle of the road, she turned to face the group of kobolds chasing her family.

The adventurers figured they’d better aid the family rather than go with the crazy old man with a deathwish. Patchy just shrugged. “Suit yourselves!,” he exclaimed. Reaching behind the bar, he tossed an old leather bag at Keo, adding, “You’re going to need what’s in there!”

As Keo snatched the bag out of the air, Patchy struck his mace on his shield and the weapon lit up with a bright, magical glow. With that, the old adventurer turned and raced out the back door, yelling a war cry at the top of his lungs.

The goliath had a quick look inside the bag. Unable to make sense of its jumbled contents, he handed it to Flint. A slight thrill rushed through the dwarf as he realized what it was: a magic bag of holding, with an internal space much larger than its outside would suggest. Shouldering the bag, he followed the others through the inn’s front door to help the villagers.

With the arrival of the adventurers, the kobolds didn’t stand a chance. The young woman, Linan Swift, was most grateful for their assistance. She called her husband and their children back and suggested they all make for the keep in the center of town as quickly as possible. As they wound their way through the village streets, they could see that the town was under attack by more than just a dragon. Groups of kobolds and human raiders were everywhere, lighting things on fire, looting buildings, and chasing after screaming townsfolk.

It took the group some effort to avoid the raiders, but they eventually managed it, picking up another family and some more adults along the way. By the time they reached the path leading up the hill to the keep, they had thirteen villagers in tow. Just then a group of kobolds came into view with a man-sized scaly beast slinking along beside them. Sending the villagers up the path to the keep, the group turned to fight a rearguard. Flint identified the beast as an ambush drake. The drake managed to get one good bite in against Erevan before it and most of its kobold handlers fell to the adventurers’ attacks. The survivors fled south into the darkness.

Seeing more raiders closing in on their location, the group beat a hasty retreat up to the keep. As a few more stragglers followed them in, the keep’s dwarven castellan ordered the gates to be closed and barred.

EDIT: Here is a brief summary of what¬†happened during the rest of Episode 1¬†…

The PCs met with Governor Nighthill and Castellan Escobert. They agreed to help, and so Escobert showed them the secret tunnel. They made it down past the rats with little trouble and managed to get the gate open without making any noise, so they were able to get the drop on the kobolds and cultists coming up the stream.

They then headed over to the sanctuary and assaulted the cultists trying to set fire to the back door. They went in and Mara managed to convince everyone to listen up and start running out the back, just as some cultists broke through the front door. The players handled this encounter well and actually managed to rescue everyone!

Later they went and captured a dragonclaw cultist for Nighthill to interrogate.

Then the dragon attacked. I had put a ballista up on the roof of the tower, so they went up there and operated it as a group. They managed to get one hit in, I think, before the dragon blasted them with its lightning breath, reducing the ballista to splinters. [DM note: Erevan would’ve died from the damage, except that his player opted to take up my house rule allowing him to survive but with a lasting injury. I did some research after the session and decided that damage from electricity would be primarily neurological, so I took the confusion-based madness effect from the DMG and made it permanent. It’s gotten him into trouble enough times now that he tries to avoid getting into melee.]

After that, they went and did the Save the Mill mission. They spotted the trap ahead of time, though, and reported back to the governor. Nighthill insisted that they “save” the mill anyway, and so the PCs persuaded him to give them three of his guardsmen to back them up. It was lucky they did, too, because the would-be assassins had just about all of the PCs on the floor, but they had heaps of trouble killing the lowly guards. In fact, the guards saved the day (and the PCs). I joked that if the PCs had all died, the players would have had to start playing the guards instead.

At some point they had a short rest, and then Langdedrosa showed up with his challenge. Mara agreed to fight him and was soundly walloped. And that was that.