Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"The Tower Sorcere" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 45

Vizerian DeVir

Willow found Vizeran disgusting, debauched, and decadent. She was glad she was nearly finished helping him assemble the Dark Heart.

"I have completed all that you required. May I leave now?" inquired the wizardess impatiently.

"In good time, in good time," said the drow mage, "it will take me several more days while I complete the Dark Heart. Perhaps we should take a break and- well- have you seen my collection of shrunken heads? Many of them were acquired during my tour of the outer planes. They're delicious! Plus they have amazing hallucinatory and prophetic effects!"

Will sighed and rolled her eyes, "No! I'm leaving. I have to rejoin my expedition!"

"Fine," acquiesced the drow, "I'll have Kleve show you the entrance to the secret passage. If you hurry, you might catch up with them."

Willow grabbed her magical flying broom and was outside of the tower in a flash!


Five heroes scour the Underdark
in order to find the ingredients
of an arcane ritual
that will banish the Demon-Lords
back to the Abyss
from which they escaped.

Having finally acquired all the ingredients.
Now they must deliver them to the drow wizard
Vizeran DeVir who must prepare
a talisman known as the Dark Heart...

Ser Valerius Adeques - (PC, human paladin 11, male) Defender and champion of the old gods of nature, commander of the forces from the Order of the Gauntlet.
Pain Grille' - (PC, halfling rogue 11, male) Wily street urchin from Waterdeep, was turned to stone in Blingdenstone but got better, commander of the Lord's Alliance forces.
Cordon - (PC, human cleric 11, male) Morninglord, Holy Radiant of Lathandor the Sun God, on a holy quest to activate the Maze Engine.
Willow - (PC, human wizard 11, female) "the solution is always fireball!"

Thora Nabal - (NPC, human veteran, Order of the Gauntlet)
Sylrien Havennor - (NPC, human veteran, Order of the Gauntlet)
Elias Drako - (NPC, human veteran, Order of the Gauntlet)
Tamryn Tharke - (NPC, human veteran, Order of the Gauntlet) Gravelly voiced amazon with the hots for Feral.
Olaf Renghyi - (NPC, human veteran, Order of the Gauntlet)
The Shield Guardian - (NPC, shield guardian) a contribution from Lord Zelraun Roaringhorn of the Harpers.
Phwee-toop - (NPC, owl) Willow's familiar.

Ront - (PC, half-orc barbarian 11, male) Savage orc of the Iron-Thews tribe seeking redemption for his failures.

Ront suddenly began coughing, he tottered a moment, then collapsed.

Jarlaxle looked at the orc with concern, "Is he going to be alright?"

Ser Valerius shrugged, "Yes. He'll be fine. It's called 'Crypt Cough'. It's a chronic condition that flared up whenever one of us has a family obligation or isn't feeling well. We'll just leave him here if that's alright with you?"

"I see. Yes, of course."

The exchange was interrupted when a scout appeared at the entrance to the audience hall, "Sir! We captured an Overworld intruder snooping around the edge of the grounds. We think she is affiliated with the other Overworlders."

"Bring her in."
Willow the Not-Witch

The scout produced Willow, bound and gagged.

Ser Valerius confirmed her membership in the party and she was unbound.

Jarlaxle continued, "Where was I? Oh yes. This is as associate of mine from the Council of Spiders. He will give you some assistance and instructions for entering the Tower."

A young male drow approached the party, "I have prepared for each of you a scroll of invisibility." He stepped past Grinn and provided the scrolls to Willow, "It looks like you may now have someone competent to cast them," he said, passively insulting his former colleague Grinn. "Remember, stay between the guardian statues while you're invisible. The tower is protected by spells of alarm and warding. Speak the password I give you as you enter to disable the spell for one hour. How do you plan to move through the city undetected?"

Ser Valerius explained, "We will wear these piwafwi cloaks we acquired to blend in. If asked, we are Grinn's slaves."

"Excellent." The drow then elaborated on the internal layout of the tower and what they should expect.

So equipped, the party waited until the dimming of massive glowing pillar supporting the ceiling of Menzoberranzan known as Narbondel, a time when the city was darkest and when most drow rested. They moved quickly through the gloom to the city Bazaar.
Grinn Ousstyl

Grinn once more offered his assistance, "I can be an invaluable guide within the tower."

Ser Valerius declined, "No thanks. Willow's got this one. We don't need your help. In fact, you should just stay here and keep out of the way."

Grinn, dejected, sat down on a nearby bench while the others disappeared into invisibility.

The expedition moved swiftly through the city. They each held a piece of string to stay together and Willow had previously cast a spell that allowed them to telepathically communicate with each other. They moved up the center of wide stair to the top of Tier Breche. They gave the guardian a wide berth as they circled to the large spike-shaped tower to the left - Tower Sorcere.

The entrance into the tower was an open passage nearly a hundred feet deep that ended in silver doors. They spoke the password before entering the threshold of the passage. The door beyond was unlocked. The tower appeared to be empty, its residents sleeping. They were in a large gathering hall with a long table. They moved carefully, deliberately, and with stealth towards a stairway in the rear of the hall. The stairway took them to the library on the second floor. Willow stared covetously at the many racks of scrolls and books but stuck to the plan and moved with the others to a second central stairway.

The stairway passed the third and fourth floors and ended at the fifth floor. A vestibule was located outside the entrance to the sanctum of the Archmage, their destination.

DM Note- I used the floor plan from Elven Tower's Guide to Out of the Abyss by Derek Von Zarovich.

Tower Sorcere by Derek Von Zarovich

Pain produced his lock picks and got to work opening the ornate door. He broke a pick on the first attempt but, as his halfling luck would have it, the door opened anyway. Willow sent her owl Phwee-Toop inside to scout ahead. The owl, like the others, was still invisible. The owl flew quickly around the single large office, noting the shelves of scrolls and books, the large table, the smaller desk, and the large statue of a four-armed sword-wielding demon, before it returned to her invisible hand.

There was a flash and a sudden explosion of hot wind as a large bonfire miraculously manifested itself within the room. The fire radiated intense heat and seemed to have a will of its own. The fire elemental had been summoned into existence by the intrusion into the room but now the elemental looked around and saw no immediate cause for its summoning.

Fire Elemental

Pain and Ser Valerius, in spite of the searing heat, took up attack positions around the elemental. Ser Valerius struck! Pain followed up. Cordon, being a priest of the sun god Lathander with a catalog of prayers that generally produced holy fire and blessed radiance, was at a loss for action. Valerius and Pain continued to endure the intense heat as they battled the fiery elemental.

Willow stepped forward and ordered the thing to return to the elemental plane of fire from which it came. The elemental was unable to resist her banishment and it disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving only a bit of scorched floor.

Willow concentrated to maintain her banishment while Pain began to search the large table. He had barely moved some papers when the stone statue came to life, swinging its swords with a sandy scraping sound.

Animated Statue

The statue attacked Pain. The party went into action, distracting the statue and preventing it from attacking Willow. The statue was eventually broken apart and crumbled into dust and sand.

Once Willow was certain the banishment had taken hold, she turned her attention to the room. She closed her eyes and concentrated on any magical enchantments. The only source appeared to emanate from a tapestry hung upon the wall behind the statue.

Willow examined the tapestry but found nothing interesting about it. She pondered its meaning.

"Interesting," she mused, "I wonder what it is about this tapestry that radiates magic."

"It's not the tapestry," exclaimed Valerius, "It's whats behind it!" He tore down the tapestry to reveale a silver door! The door was set into the wall that couldn't make sense. Behind the wall was the open space of the stair well.

Pain once again set his skills to the door, but there was no lock to pick.

Willow confidently said, "I got this." and cast a spell of opening upon the door.

The door slowly swung open to reveal a yawning black nothingness like a black velvet drapery hung over the doorway.

Valerius reached out his hand. It disappeared into the darkness.

"See you on the other side," he quipped, and stepped into the void.

Doorway to Darkness

He was soon followed by Cordon, Willow, and Pain.

Pain found himself in a strange room. It appeared to resemble the inside of a crystal, with transparent faceted walls, ceiling, and floor. The room was barely larger than a bedroom. He was alone. He called out but no one answered. He sat down and took a nap.

Pain Grille'

Ser Valerius was standing in a short corridor. The corridor ended in a three-way intersection on one end and turned right on the other end. Other passages branched off on either side. He began to explore. More turns, branches, and intersections. He was trapped in some kind of labyrinth and he was alone!

Willow was likewise trapped, alone, in a labyrinth. She looked around and quickly spotted a door. She exited the door. Magical glowing crystals provided illumination. She was in a round room with a high ceiling that disappeared in shadow. A female drow was sitting inside a ten-foot wide circle of salt in the center of the room. There were stacks of books piled next to full bookshelves. A podium containing an open book stood near the circle of salt. Thick spider webs were draped over the bookshelves and elsewhere within the room.

A moment later Cordon stepped through the door.

"Maze?" inquired Willow.

"Yup," replied Cordon, "Where's Valerius and Pain?"

Willow shrugged.

The Inner Sanctum
The drow jumped to her feet. She babbled something in drow elvish. Willow and Cordon both shook their heads and shrugged. The drow tried again in broken Undercommon, "You from over! You me help! Me am trapped!"

The drow, using choppy Undercommon, said her name was Y'lara. She was a drow priestess whom Gromph had trapped within the circle. Gromph had planned on providing her as a demonic sacrifice but the ritual went awry and Gromph fled, leaving her here.

She begged to be released and offered to provide assistance. Willow was inclined to help but Cordon was more wary.

A moment later, Valerius entered through the door. Y'lara said something in drow elvish to which Valerius replied, "I can understand elvish."

Y'lara was relieved and continued her plea for release more eloquently using her native tongue.

She explained in more detail how she was a priestess sent by the Matron Mother to investigate Gromph's activities as well as his collusion with the Council of Spiders. She was caught and magically imprisoned within this magic circle, which she correctly pointed out was effective against fey such as drow.

Valerius was highly skeptical of her claim and prayed for guidance. The spirits of nature compelled Y'lara to speak only the truth.

DM Note- I set the timer on my phone for ten minutes, the duration of the Zone of Truth.

Valerius then interrogated Y'lara with a series of questions meant to expose the drow as a demon. She objected to this treatment and became impatient that she had not yet been released. Her avoidance of the question was enough for Valerius to conclude that she was, in fact, not a drow but something else- probably a demon.

The party did their best to ignore the pleas of the trapped prisoner as they began searching the room. Suddenly, six giant spiders descended from the ceiling and attacked! Y'lara begged to be released so that she could help fend off the attackers.

Willow sent a fireball spell into the ceiling, destroying several of the spiders.

DM Note- This was Willow's legit damage rolled on the fireball. Impressive!

That's a lot of sixes!
The spiders were soon dispatched and the webs were pulled away. The search continued, yielding several rare and valuable tomes, a large supply of valuable spell components, the grimoire known as Zhaun'ol'leal - "the Book of the Eight", and a hand mirror in a velvet cover. Valerius also found a large diamond. Trapped within the diamond was a teeny tiny little Pain!

Valerius asked Willow to inspect the diamond. Willow explained that it was a spell of imprisonment. Such a spell represented incredibly powerful magic. Dispelling it was beyond her capability.

Valerius asked Y'lara if she knew how to free Pain from the diamond prison. Y'lara grinned and said that she did. She said that it was, after all, how she was captured when she tried to infiltrate the tower and she had heard Gromph use the password to set her free.

She would share the password if someone from the party would break the magic circle and release her.
Ser Valerius Adeques
Valerius once more declined.

Y'lara became frustrated and finally dropped the pretense. She admitted to being a demon. Her voice became harsh, otherworldly.

Y'lara tried bargaining more directly for her release. Valerius entertained some of the suggestions but ultimately declined all her offers. Willow made the case for her release in order to free Pain. Valerius was adamant in his refusal but did suggest that he wouldn't stand in Willow's way. Valerius' concerns were enough to dissuade Willow from freeing Y'lara.

Y'lara eventually became angry. Her voice became a bestial growl. She began to melt, finally resuming her demonic form. The demon resembled a large viscous yellow mass with one large eye and several reddish tentacles. The demon shuddered in rage and lashed out impotently.

Y'Lara Reveals her True Form

Valerius, Cordon, and Willow took the book, mirror, diamond, and spell components and left the demon. She screamed in outrage as they closed the door behind them.

Willow cast a spell of invisibility upon everyone in the party and they made their way down the stairwell to the exit of Tower Sorcere.

They exited the tower just as the password that protected them from the magical alarm wore off.

The party retrieved Grinn Ousstyl from the bazaar and returned to House Dro'Urden.

They were granted immediate audience with Jarlaxle. Jarlaxle asked for the mirror. They produced it and handed it over. Jarlaxle thanked them.

"And now," he continued, "I must ask you to turn over the grimiore. As much as I dislike the idea of demon lords rampaging across the countryside, I cannot let it fall into the hands of that old lech, Vizerian. That would be even more dangerous! You will find another way to stop the demon-lords!"

"That's not going to happen," said Ser Valerius, "you're going to have to try and take it from us!"

There was a sudden commotion at the entrance to House Dro'Urden. The doors burst open and a group of warriors barged in. They were led by several priestesses and accompanied by hulking draegloth demons. Quenthel Baenre, Matron Mother of Menzoberranzan, stepped forward.

"Brother! I will have words with thee! I know that you currently harbor agents of the Council of Spiders. They are subversive dissidents and are guilty of sedition and treason! Those who harbor them are guilty by association! I demand you turn them over at once so that they may serve as an example to other radicals!"

Jarlaxle refused, "You are wrong, sister! There are none such as you describe here!"

"I will determine that for myself! Search the house and seize that book!"

Jarlaxle drew his sabers, "No!"

In the ensuing battle between the two drow factions, Grinn lead the party out of House Dro'Urden, "Hurry, this way. I know a discreet exit."  They retrieved the nauseated Ront and slipped away while no one was paying attention.

They retreated to the secret tunnel in Westrift and escaped the city of the drow.