20 December 1998

Isle of the Magi, Part IV

Restharvest Eve

A sudden, intra-dimensional flux, reunited Sir Nagrom, Alvar and Raven in the entrance hall of the Mazkorick’s Tower.  It also introduced, Jero, Huntpriest of Shaleela to the group.  The doughty, if diminished group proceeded into the water weird guarded courtyard, only to see a 3” tall Tallimus the Younger being chased by Mazkorick’s cat familiar.  The hunter and hunted were followed into the now spectrally empty, opulant, dining chambers of Mazkorick.  The fell feline was frightened from it’s diminutive human prey and Tallimus lead the group into the kitchen’s, where the the group deftly handled Mazkorick’s sentient kitchen construct, Oven.  The group discovered two charmed children here, Corrin Bladesmith and Villadama Goldmaster.  The group also noticed the rear kitchen’s exit to the city of Sigil (apparently Mazkorick’s lair spreads across at least three  planes!).
Returning to the dining room to await their meals, Raven started to tinker with ring cut from the Spiderspawn.  The unleashing of its magical energies almost over whelmed the good in Raven’s heart, as well as triggering Oven to attack.  The group escaped the stove golem by fleeing into the courtyard, wisely persuaded by Alvar and Jero not to fight the construct.  The group entered the lounge to continue their rescue.
In the extravagant lounge, they came apon what appeared to be the younglord Eduan Elftrader.  At that time, Nagrom could detect no evil from the merchant son (either it was magically hidden or he was actually himself at that meeting). Nagrom did detect a large grouping of evil behind the group, with the same signature as that detected earlier outside the Tower.  With the help of Tallimus and “Eduan” the group searched the living apartments adjacent to the lounge, finding no one.  “Eduan” was entrusted to guard his companions as the group braved more of Mazkorick’s Tower.
After exploring the porch connected to Mazkorick’s rooms and the lounge, and being unable to force entry to the wizard’s private chambers the group proceeded to the library.  In doing so, Raven and Sir Nagrom were dumped in a pit of glass dust, badly injuring them.  They were pulled from the pit and Alvar propped a table across the pit to allow the group access.  In the library the found a Boccob’s Blessed Book, a cursed tome and a Deck of Many Things. 
The cursed tome’s damning magicks killed Alvar when he touched it, but Sir Nagrom’s fortunate draw from the Deck saved his life, as well as removed Nagrom’s lycanthropic curse.  Jero’s draw gave him great power, but he also faced Death as did Raven. Alvar’s draw caused him to disappear and be imprisoned in a dank cave next to shadowy summoning chamber.  The group split as Raven uncovered a force field protected, secret passageway covered with white, grey and black tiles.  Meanwhile, as Jero covered him, Sir Nagrom proceeded down the corridor from the library to Mazkorick’s chambers only to be caught in the same trap that shrunk Tallimus the Younger
The three quickly re-grouped, and used Sir Nagrom’s detection abilities to ascertain that a bureaucratic, single evil lurked in the office chambers of Mazkorick.  This turned out to be Boorune Suung, another of the missing children.  The group lured the office assitant from the chambers, deactivating the trap protecting them.  They questioned him about the secret, tiled passage from the library. 
His reponse was cryptic, “Life is not black, nor white, but shades of grey.”  Frothing at the mouth he collapsed and was put under the care of the children hiding in the apartments.
Raven interpreted this strange expression and lead the group along the grey tiles of the passage their only irritation being yelled at by ethereal voices.   From this passage they entered the Summoning Room and Laboratory of Mazkorick.  They avoided a dimensional crack into the Blood War by passing through the gateway unarmed.  Attached to this hemispherical mage chamber was a slave pen, from which Alvar beckoned them.  They also freed Matryx the Mighty, a half-sea elf.
The three proceeded to liberate their comrade only to be ambushed by a fearsome, many-eyed globe.  The beholder was defeated, but not before it destroyed most of bladesinger’s gear.  The group found some treasure and eight magikal potions.  They also discovered Villis Goldmaster and an extremely, ill Eduan Elftrader!
Fearing the worst, the re-united four rushed back to the apartments only to find the corpses of the children they had left there.  The “Eduan” they had left behind had vanished, the group suspects this false Eduan to be Mazkorick in disguise!  The other children, however had been freed of from their charmed state.  All together, they returned to the group and discovered a map of the Tower.  From this Jero ascertained the location of Mazkorick’s vault and entered by using a stone to mud  spell.  Jero and Raven were starting the plunder when a large, battle-ready, group entered the Summoning Chamber!  The group was challenged by Yashe the Necromancer, Lord Chromatic, and his undead constructs as well as the shade of Coon.  He dismissed them from the tower and teleported them all back to the freighter-cog.
They returned home without incident, were paid their rewards, the live children returned and the dead ones raised.  Several threads were left loose to torment our heroes...
Firstly,  what became of Mazkorick?  Is he the false Eduan?   Where has he gone and what mischief does he plan?  Another thing, what of  Lord Chromatic, the Necromancer Yashe, what are his designs, how shall Jero and his allies rescue his brother in arms, the shade Coon?  What is his true relationship with Mazkorick of the Maze?  Thirdly, what of Snaryn’s ancient map in blood, what of the Fallen City?  Lastly. the Mazewerks remains uncleared and whole, what evil lurks there and who or what could covet its domains?

09 October 1998

Isle of the Magi, Part III

3 Suns after Last Claim's Day

A day of great tragedy...
The wounded and drained party, against better judgement, decided to press on and face the mighty ettin.  Before the battle, Alvar "Wheezer" Herrickson, unable to continue due to his weak health, was unceremoniously stuffed in the bag of holding.  Coon and Raven steathily crept upon the fell giant and attacked, rousing the twice-crowned creature from his slumbers.  The brave group pressed on, with Coon's augmented strength and Sir Nagrom‘s valiant blows doing much damage.  Until, guided by Thria the Gloryseeker the group discovered the illusory nature of the titanic, sword-wielding menace.  The ettin illusion was a facade for a sentient majick construct called Kee and Loc, two massive iron door knockers with hideous faces set on a large oak and iron wrought double door.   Through the clever manipulations of Coon, Gump and Raven, as well as a little luck and some battle prowess the group breached the "gates" of Mazkorick's Tower and Loc lost his tongue.
The wizard Gump, one of the earliest arrivals, attempted to investigate a poor, demented child beating his brains upon the wall.  The very nature of Mazkorick's lair would do this to any mortal, as the featureless, black matte room fluxed in various irregular trapzoidal shapes.  As Gump crossed the room's floor he fell victim to a green slime,  lying in wait at the bottom of a cleverly hidden trap door.  He died a horrid, burning death from the magical slime.  Sir Nagrom tried to save his compatriot but it was, sadly, to late.  The group, mourning their loss, recovered the amulet of the undead.  They then sought to question the demented child, beating his head upon the wall.  The young lad seemed to be in a charmed state, but was also suffering from shock.  He was trying to accomplish something, but his nervous state limited his performance.
The only exits, were down in the pit or up on floating steps to an invisible platform.  As the hearty band of four, along with the charmed and shell-shocked lad mounted the stairs, a sudden dimensional warping of the room snapped up the lad and Sir Nagrom the Just!  The brave three (Coon, Raven and Thria) pressed on, hoping that the rest of the children, as well as their comrade in arms waited for them in the interior.  The group also discovered dusty footprints wandering up the stairs and across the platform into a 20' long mirror-tiled hallway.  The footprints ended about 15' into the hall on a plush red carpet.  The floor underneath was a shiny, infinitely black and un-identifiable metal.  Magic candles, floating near the walls gave a brilliant illumination.
Coon, carefully searching the hall found a trap door right under the last two footprints.  As he opened up the trap, a broken and twisted apparition of a warrior flew from the floor and moaned, "my bones hurt".  Finally, understanding the ghostwarrior's meaning, Coon descended the shaft and recovered the bones of a dead warrior, outfitted like the twisted apparition in the hall.  He also found a mysterious scroll and map written in blood.  Upon returning to the hall, the apparition had transformed into a homely warrior. 
He addressed Coon, "I am Snayrn, a servant of the King of Nornask, what is the year?"  Upon Coon's reply of the third day after Last Claim's Day, nineteenth year in the reign of King Nuurs Nornask'an, Snayrn's spirit cried in utter and undeathly anguish and evaporated through the ceiling, not yet to be seen again.
The diminished, yet valiant party left through the hall of mirrors other set of ebony doors and entered a skylighted, square room with long, trough like fountains obscuring exiting doors on the east and west side.  Messenger pigeons roosted under a purple, night sky watched over by three (not the expected two) gibbous moons.  Clearly, Mazkorick's Tower stretched not across physical but dimensional space.  Coon, while examining the fountains was beset upon by a child of the Oceandrinker, a long thick watery serpent.  The party attempted to fight it's way around the water weirds but first Coon, then Thria fell to the lethal, watery clutches of this fell planar creature.  Raven was able to dispatch the left fountain-fiend and recovered some treasure from the fountain and the bodies of his dead friends.  He entered the left door to be witness a strange ghostly dinner party, in a sumptuous but decaying grand dining room.  Unable to face more death and madness, Raven fled back to the hall of mirrors and collapsed in fitful slumber.

Coon the crafty thief,
the wizard Gump,
the Warlady of Fortuna, Thria the Gloryseeker 
will all be missed.  
We raise drink to you in the halls of the Great Mother!

27 September 1998

Isle of the Magi, Part II

2 Suns after Last Claim's Day

After recuperating for a night in the minotaur's lair, the doughty adventurers explored this new area of the Maze and attempted to locate the missing Gump.  A shimmering illusion of a gold necklace, almost tempted the halfling thief to his doom at the hand of scrags.  Luckily, Sir Nagrom‘s sensitivity to evil saved the wee adventurer from a wet and bloody end.  The company also engaged a lesser spiderspawn of Zynar; a huge, bloated, and hideous arachnid that wielded poison and enchanted rings.  A miscast spell by Alvar Herrickson helped kill the beast.  Raven, in a display of bladesinging grace, claimed one of the spiderspawn's rings (and legs) as his own.  Upon the "defeat" of the fiend, it vanished.
Meanwhile, Gump had regained conciousness in the warrens of the were-rats.  Chained next to him was the Gloryseeker priest of Fortuna, the Warlady Thria of the Sunken Empire of the DwarfsThria and Gump attempted to escape, and the mage's bravery saved the dwarf priestess from torture and death at the hands of the lycanthropes.  Thria’s throaty cries, cursing the shape-shifting fiends, drew their badly wounded compatriots into the warrens.  There the band slew a small pack of were-rats and scattered their giant rat companions.  Thria healed several in the group, and only through the blessing of Fortuna was the battle won.  Gump and Thria were freed but, tragically, Sir Nagrom the Just was afflicted with lycanthropy.  The Apprehender struggles mightily not to slay its noble master, but with the coming of the full moon, this battle will become far more torturous.  Thria was unable (or unwilling ?) to rectify this draw from Fortuna's hand.  The group recovered some treasure, as well as a potion of superheroism  and gauntlets of ogre power  (now worn by Coon).
Thria lead the group free of the warrens into the final piece of maze before the Tower of the Magi.  In the Tower's gateway, a titanic, two-headed, ettin slept (or did he?) and the gate beyond was open.  There was also divine evidence of an evil hidden in a chamber behind the party.

18 September 1998

Isle of the Magi, Part I

3 Suns after First Claim's Fest

The elven bladesinger Raven; Alvar Herrickson the half-elven; Gump the Mage; the avenging hand of Lothar,  Sir Nagrom the Just; and the halfling adventurer Coon were drinking in the Listing Swordsman Tavern.  They were approached by Ulric, a servant of the Merchant-lord Goldmaster.   Goldmaster wished to hire the adventures for 20,000 Royal Kings each to rescue 10 of the sons and daughters of Northreach's finest and most upstanding.  The children were being held captive by their mentor, Mazkorick of the Maze, a semi-retired High Councilor of the Council of Mortal Majicks.  Mazkorick, had for the past 57 summers taken 5 sons and 5 daughter's on First Claim's day and educated them at his island tower in return for a year's supply of goods. A year of schooling for a year of food, clothing, and spices.
In the 234th year of the rule of the Kings of Nornasck, on First Claim's day Mazkorick's magic galleon did not return.  In a few days, angst turned to panic and Goldmaster along with the other lords and ladies sought to secretly return their children by any means necessary.  Hence they sought the adventurers above, who investigated the Merchant-lords' story and questioned the local Magistrate of Majicks.  Nagrom, discovered that the Magistrate lied to them.  And the group decided to take the case.  They were secretly transported out of Northreach by a freighter-cog  and taken east toward the Mazewerks of Mazkorick...

Last Claim's Day

About midmorning, the craft was ambushed by a large squid, rare in this part of the world.  After bravely fighting the mighty kraken, and bloodying their blades the adventurers travelled onwards toward the island.  Only one crew member was swept overboard, and no evidence of magical summoning were indicated.

1 Sun after Last Claim's Day

The adventurers breached the Mazewerks for the first time.  Alvar, Coon and Raven fought bravely against a contingent of were-rats and their gigantic rat allies.  Alvar was badly wounded but survived.  Gump and Coon fabricated a sling bullet with a continual light  spell which they used to good effect.  The group also discovered the presence of an underground warren of caves, connected to the Mazewerks.
One of the captive children was also found by a poorly placed sling stone.  It turned out to be a mostly incoherent Gill Stonegrinder who reported (a) a mad and changed Mazkorick, (b) mindless, zombified friends, and (c) confirmed the underground connection between the maze and the tower.  Nagrom and Alvar fought a huge spider and the group discovered a group of large, amphibious humanoids in (one of ?) the Maze's lake(s).  They also fought a group of skeletons, who were dispatched by the bravery of Coon, Sir Nagrom and Raven.  During this battle Gump vanished, wether voluntary or no, is unknown.  Finally, the remaining four breached the magical gate  to a minotaurs layer. After suffering badly at the beast's hands, they dispatched it, and plundered its lair.  During this, Lothar's Apprehender a powerful, lawful good, sentient long sword was recovered and claimed by Sir Nagrom.  Apprehender reported that Mazkorick was a greatly changed man, but whether he was now mad, a lich, or some other possed evil it could not determine.