In Which an Old Friend is Rescued, and a Hero Takes a Plunge
Sunday, 16 Sunsebb CY 595, continued
Still in the shadow-stuff covered room, the party chooses the only path they haven’t tried yet, the blue metal doors at the top of a set of stairs. Tyrrell finds them neither trapped nor locked. This is where the extra set of footprints came from.
Inside the room there is a statue of an armored Wind Duke with his left hand on a sword and his right hand shielding his eyes. The statue looks like it is made entirely of gold and has sparkling blue topazes for eyes. Tyrrell eyes the eyes.
This is another shrine, with a beam of light from the ceiling bathing everything in a blue glow. The walls are covered in bas relief of Wind Dukes bowing and soldiers saluting. The carpet is rotting. There is one door in the south wall.
Tyrrell checks the floor out as Archie follows behind, tracking. He picks Allustan’s tracks easily, from the double doors to the southern door, and he also picks up the Other tracks leading in the opposite direction.
Still interested in those gems, Tyrrell searches the statue while Scar-Eater detects magic. The blue light from above is revealed by the spell, as well as the outlines of two of the figures in bas relief on the walls. The party works out that if the topazes are removed, these two golems will break from their meld with stone spell and attack. Riddle reminds everyone, “That is not why we are here.”
Tyrrell moves on to searching the door, detecting a faint smell of ozone. When he opens the door, the party sees the room from Jane’s scrying, with Allustan still frozen in the middle. Riddle proposes that whatever tracked out of this room may have been in the trap when Allustan walked in, and they traded places.
Scar-Eater’s magic detection supports this theory: he tells the others that the traps in the room first detect presence of movement, then fire lightning bolts at anyone in the room, and finally, teleport anyone damaged by the lightning into the temporal stasis sphere in the middle.
Jane attempts to suppress the magic in the room long enough to release Allustan so Riddle can fly in and rescue him, but her spell fails. Exhausted from all of their activity, the party decides to rest.
Moonday, 17 Sunsebb CY 595
Refreshed, the party’s first order of business is creating a treasure map before the time limit to do so expires. Using the wing she cut from Illthain’s corpse, Jane sits with her expensive inks and powdered metals, and begins. The map she draws while in the meditative state of the spells reveals the location of three things Illthain deemed most valuable, and one of them is her lair.
The party then returns to the room Allustan is trapped in for another shot at suppressing the magic long enough for a rescue. With some boosting, Jane succeeds, and Allustan is brought out. He is singed and weak, but can talk. “The last thing I remember is lightning…and now…this next room is trapped!” He claims there was no one within the sphere when he entered the room, but Riddle suggests the old inhabitant may have been invisible. Allustan claims he has been there since the 11th of Sunsebb, and immediately begins asking about the town. “Is it still standing?”
The party tells Allustan that they killed Illthain but haven’t been to Diamond Lake yet. He is glad they killed the dragon and confesses it was what he was hoping to do himself. He came to Icosiol’s tomb in an effort to find a weapon or weapons – perhaps even the Rod of Law itself – to use against Illthain. The more he talks, the more upset he becomes.
He tells the party that the dragon decimated Diamond Lake. Most homes were destroyed, Allustan’s brother Mayor Neff was killed in the public square, and Lieutenant Dobrun Trent lost his life as well. Allustan chastises himself for being hidden in the Whispering Cairn, messing around with the portal, while Illthain destroyed the town.
Allustan explains that all of the wandering dukes carried signet rings that allowed them to ignore the effects of wind and lightning and to transform themselves into lightning. Icosiol also carried two swords: the Sword of Aaqa was a longsword that blew enemies away with winds, and the Lightning Blade was a mithril shortsword that was sheathed in lightning. Icosiol would clash the two swords against each other for additional effects. He adds that the souls of Vaati Wind Lords were said to be tied to the places of their death, though he admits that could just be so much mysticism.
Allustan asks about Eligos, and the party explains that he was murdered. After hearing the circumstances, and Okoral’s odd comment that Manzorian’s estate was not very well guarded for such a powerful wizard, Allustan remarks that Eligos was perhaps too overconfident, and that believing himself safe from harm would be in character. Jane and Riddle share a look, but ask no further questions.
Riddle tells Allustan what happened to him a few days earlier when the Vaati voices chastised him. Allustan claims there are no Vaati gods anymore, that the pantheon was lost with the civilization.
He also explains that while he moved through this complex (apparently avoiding all traps except this last and most vicious one), he simply always seemed to know the right way to go. Though he was unaware of anything acting upon him.
Before leaving to help with the rebuilding of Diamond lake, Allustan gives the party a letter of introduction to Tenser, in case it is ever necessary. He also tells the party that he was being drawn down.
After Allustan departs, Tyrrell uses his wand of unseen servant to move through the lightning room and open the opposite door. Then Riddle dimension doors everyone to the other side, where there are stairs that immediately lead down. Which is, after all, the direction they want to go.
However, once there, they see the stairs only go down five feet before plunging into a gaping pit. Archie and Tyrrell are in an unfortunate position in the teleport, and end up utilizing their strong reflexes to keep from falling in. They are hanging over a straight eighty-foot metallic shaft, with handholds on the wall. The bottom of the floor below sparkles with an intricate pattern of scarlet tiles. They see two passageways. Tyrrell says, “There’s a pit.”
Jane shifts into Athena and flies down the shaft as Riddle floats down with his ring of feather fall. Athena hears a faint but powerful buffeting and crashing sound from the northeast passageway…not unlike a river. When Riddle lands, he tosses a lit coin down the other passage and they see it goes about sixty-five feet before ending in a smooth metal wall.
Suddenly a metal door slams into place over the shaft, leaving only Long Fist and Scar Eater on the stairs above. Below the door, a gushing torrent of blood crashes down on the others. Athena is nearly swept away, but she manages to shift into the larger Bast form while Riddle dimension hops with Archie and Tyrrell to her, then takes them all out to the room on the opposite side of the lightning room.
Unfortunately, this is all happening at the same time Scar-Eater is dimension hopping himself and Long Fist to where they believe the rest of the party still is.
At least Archie notices that Long Fist and Scar-Eater were joining them. Riddle takes them back to the stair so Tyrrell can attempt to disable to trap, but below, Long Fist plunges into the River of Blood, determined to rescue lost friends, and is swept away.
Tyrrell manages to get the door open and allow Scar-Eater to come out, but the River is rising, and they must close it again as Scar-Eater informs them that Long Fist jumped in. “He’s riding the snake,” he says, though clearly shaken.
Acting without hesitation, Riddle casts fly on himself and dimension doors himself to the other side of the door. After riding the river for a time he finds himself in a gargantuan underground chasm. He casts detect object on the handy haversack Long Fist carries, and follows the spell over a huge two-hundred foot waterfall down to a bed of jagged rock. He goes down past that and down another sixty feet where he spots a tiny crevice where the battered and bruised half-ogre crouches, clutching the rocks. Riddle grabs him and flies him back to safety.
All that’s left now is the room with the clockwork gatehouse and the stone bridge over the River of Blood. Tyrrell flies over, avoiding the suspicious bridge. The giant clockwork doors turn out to be an exercise in futility and frustration, with new sets of gears covering others, and as soon as one set is disabled, an identical set of doors appears behind it. And it all leads to a blank wall.
“What is everything you know about the marquis who stole your pretty?” he asks.
Spitgob replies, “He came fleeing from the treasure room, chased by the wraith. Fled to the River of Blood. I was not quick enough to catch it.”
“How did he flee to the River of Blood?” Riddle asks.
“He was flying over the surface, into darkness.”
Riddle asks exactly what he looked like, and Spitgob replies, “He looked human or elven. Very pale. His teeth were filed to long points, his eyes burned orange, he dressed in black finery. Swirling black cloak. A sword nearly as long as him strapped to his back, wands tucked into his belt.”
There are only two questions left. “Had he been trapped in the stasis room?” But Spitgob answers, “Not to my knowledge.”
“How could we track him?” Riddle asks, adding slyly, “To get your pretty back?”
The corpse becomes flustered. “Follow his scent on through the air along the River of Blood?” I do not know! If I knew how to track it, I would!”
Riddle begins to form a plan to cast wind walk on the entire party, to follow the Marquis through the River of Blood.