07 June 2006

Mindsgate: Battle of the Burning Tower

The hardy party awoke the next morning and as they began their morning absolutions a distant keening rapidly gained in intensity. As they scanned the dim horizon the Hand noticed the flat grey waters of the Unconscious Sea being thrown aside by a rapidly approaching cube. As the group scattered from the center of the platform an ornate box of exotic woods and heavy metal clasps some three feet in every dimension halted precisely in the center of the platform, nearly disemboweling Drakkar in the process. The chest floated approximately a foot above the platform before bejeweled clasps on all four sides burst open and the lid floated vertically, a pale wholesome light emanating from the opening.
A small curly haired figure, exquisitely dressed and coifed crawled from somewhere within the confines of the magical chest and spoke, "Greetings, I'm Verren, Valet to His Imperial Highness, I have your things."
Verren then scampered back into the chest throwing rich, well fitting clothing, gear, weapons, and armor from the inside. He warned them that they could not enter the chest nor could he leave due to a curse cast by the Unlord, with perceptible shudder he said, "we've tried that before.". Verren was largely able to fulfill their requests, supplying healing potions and other vital equipment. He even scrounged up Kai's enchanted banjo and some simple magical weapons. As the fantastic floating chest began to vibrate the lid closed Verren cried for the party to free him from his curse. With that the chest streaked off into the horizon.
Restocked and restored the party climbed the hovering stone steps of Burning Tower once more, the Hand prowling silently ahead. He scaled the central stairs to the level above, now free thanks to the party's brave battle with their sentient flame guardian. The room above was dark, but the doughty rogue heard heavy wet breathing from the level above. Stealthily climbing to the edge of the trap door, he peered in seeing three great bipedal shapes each about a head taller than a human with a thick body covered in rubbery gray hide and coarse, ropy hair. They had stooped postures, low foreheads, and long thin noses with prominent lower canines that resembled boar’s tusks. Their limbs were long and ungainly ending in powerful hands and feet armed with sharp claws.
Troll image from PMZG Game Studio -- Click to go to their site
One of the hideous humanoids spotted the Hand and began to lumber to the trapdoor. The rogue lay in wait ready to grab the large beast and pull him through. Unfortunately the trorc struck first wounding the foolish rogue and rending him with its claws. The Hands lifeless body fell to the dark stone floor below as the trorcs rumbled down the stairs. Drakkar struck with Maulstrom missing but badly cracking the stone ceiling with the electrified ball of the mystical flail. Hurth used a potion to heal the Hand while Kai fascinated the first trorc. The remaining trorcs dropped to the floor and engaged the party. Drakkar smite one trorc dead with a single blow while the second clawed Kai grievously. To everyone's surprise the fascinated trorcturned and slew its companion. Unsure of its loyalties, the Hand and Hurth then dispatched the creature.
The chamber that the three trorc guards had come from. The chamber was the same flat gray stone as the the Tower on the Undead Tree. The room had one set of stone steps built into the wall on one side opposite to which a rope disappeared in a small hole in the ceiling. All the windows were crudely blocked by stones and excrement. Three foul smelling pallets and the filthy remnants of food and/or prisoners littered the floor. Sounds of a many trorcs engaged in carousing and fighting could be heard emanating from several floors above. Attempting to see more clearly, the Hand used one of the continual flame pendants provided by Verren which rapidly summoned more trorcs armed with great falchions from the level above. A cleverly thrown tanglefoot bag tripped the first trorc who was trampled under the cruel feet of his brethren. A fierce battle followed in which Drakkar wielding the elemental might of Maulstrom slew two more of the despicable denizens of the tower. The Hand struck another trorc dead with a series of bone breaking martial blows, its internal organs bursting under the iron-like flesh of the Hand's fists. Kai extruded a thin black blade from her hand and cut violently at her foe. For a moment nothing happened but then the trorc fell before her, smote in twain by her deadly blade.
Following the battle Hurth fell ill, victim to a seemingly small blow. Lucien having remained in reserve took the wounded barbarian under his care as the party proceeded. The Hand and Kai also noticed that despite having received many wounds Drakkar had never once bled or been healed. The party questioned him but Drakkar was unaware of his unnatural history, he had always been like this but was concerned about his inability to heal. Lucien revealed that he too had noticed Drakkar's unnaturalness after the glasshark attack, but had decided to say nothing at the time.
The scrawled sigil of the UnlordThe next floor appeared to have been an old laboratory coarsely converted by the trorcs as a second guardroom. A metal ladder ascended to a round stone trapdoor, the din of many raucous trorc voices and heavy blows of weapons on armor. Along the wall several man-sized harnesses of sliver set with pale stones at the hands, chest, head, and feet lay in disrepair. One of the harnesses appeared in good repair and the Hand donned it. As he did the Lycanthrope Harness activated, spines extruded from the harness buried into his skin, his body increased in size straining his clothing as his teeth lengthened and sharpened, his nails became claws, and gray hair grew in his body and limbs. His eyes glinted yellow and menacingly in the half light. The Hand twisted the stone in the center of the harness and returned to normal. Further inspection of the laboratory found several books in poor repair as well as some notes on the creation of mechanical life, golems so complex as to be able to pass as living men. The notes were mostly so advanced that neither the Hand, Kai, or Drakkar could decipher them. The notes did explain that certain mystical iron keys could be inserted in the base of the skull to heal these constructs. All the notes bore the scrawled mark of the Unlord, a skull with a U glyph. Recalling the key provided to them by Leatherbones, the Hand found a keyhole in Drakkar's head and healed the man-construct. The key then vanished. Drakkar and the Hand decided to preserve the notes for further study at a later time.
The Hand then climbed the ladder to examine the round hatch in the ceiling. The din from above continued and he was unable to detect any traps. Both the Hand and Drakkar tried to push the hatch open but were unable to budge the stone trapdoor. Deciding to circumvent the trapdoor the three broke out a window in the guardroom below and scaled the side of the tower. As they scaled the tower the din quietened until they scaled the two stories to the level where the din should have been loudest. They broke open one of the windows and entered a dusty, bare and deserted room. No sound but the party's own stirrings could be heard. Drakkar, Kai, and the Hand decided to rest.
After a few short hours the tower suddenly sprung into an uproar as the trorcs discovered their slain fellows. Claxons and alarms rang as trorc voices bellowed their anger. The Hand spied a trorc head searching from the window they had escaped several floors below. He quickly drew his bow and fired an arrow into the thick skull of his foe. The trorc turned more insulted than injured and the clamorous alarm doubled as trorcs swarmed from the windows both above and below.
Seeking to escape the party searched first the square trapdoors above and below finding a nauseating interface between the levels, a terrible, shimmering that drove them back ill and weak. The party did see trorcs both above and below. They were trapped as three trorc heads appeared in the window. Drakkar, Kai, and the Hand engaged in a furious combat, corned in the shrinking tower chamber as the trorcs built a beachhead on the fallen corpses of their brethren. Drakkar's mystical flail was never more terrible, Kai's blade was keen death, and the Hands devastating manipulations crushed his foes innards to paste. But still the trorcs came and the three fell back.
Seeing the futility of fighting further, Kai broke out the opposite window as the Hand lengthened into his rope form. Drakkar sprung through the window but missed the Hand, falling to the slate colored waters below. The surging trorcs struck Kai in the back, lofting her unconscious form through the window. The Hand retracted nearly to the platform at the sea's edge. As Drakkar restored Kai to health with a potion, Lucien and Hurth exploded down the stairs with hundreds of trorcs in angry pursuit.
The party turned and began to swim toward the shadow they believed to be their raft.
The large shadow materialized into a gigantic black swan its wings furled like sails. On the side of the swan a closed hatchway opened at Kai's request and the party climbed gratefully into an opulently outfitted hold that sprang into illumination. Several fitted portholes ran the length of the belly. Toward the neck a doorway lead to a galley and a set of stairs climbing upward. Kai quickly sprang up the ladder-stairs passing the next floor of state rooms up to the head. Inside the bridge's glass cupola Kai took the captain's chair and a rich female voice spoke, "The Black Melody awaits your command, captain." Kai told the craft to fly as below she saw several trorcs floundering gradually toward the swanship. The Black Melody sprang lightly into the air. The Hand wondered at its offensive capabilities, to which the rich voice replied, curtly, "I'm a swan not a hawk." The craft circled the tower, well out of range of the javelins hurled by the trorcs. The top of the tower was revealed to be several stories higher than that of the Undead Tree. The top four floors had been sheared off at a steep angle.
Kai requested the Black Melody to land toward the top the tower, but the swanship declined saying that it had orders superseding her own. She told them she was taking them to the First. The brief trip lasted a few hours and as they passed a horrible, undulating, tower composed of skeletal undead she directed them to her navigational map, saying it was the home of the Unlord.
The navigation map of the Black Swan
Shortly after, the Black Melody descended before a small stereotypical wizard's tower. The squat tower was covered with thick ivy and flag stones ran from its front door disappearing into the sea. Several swans and an albatross of similar kind as the Black Melody floated in the sea around the tower. On the tower's ramparts two cruel looking hawks of similar make to the other avian craft perched in waiting. Standing at the base of the tower stood a tall white-bearded wizard smoking a great pipe and dressed in the imperial colors of Mellas.
As they approached in the small craft provided by the Black Melody the stereotypical wizard greeted them, "I am Daerrus, called the First. We must speak." Daerrus told them that Kai, the Hand, and Lucien along with several other denizens of Mindsgate were fragments of the Emperor and that if they reformed they would be able to escape the prison but in doing so they would free the demon prince, Naberaxus. Daerrus urged them not to seek escape, since the Empire was now prosperous and safe. Furthermore he told them that if they reformed they would cease to exist as individuals. Everything threatening the Empire had been consumed by the Midnight's Hunger followed by its only remaining threat, the Midnight's Hunger itself. Since Daerrus knew that all the threats were here and no one else could enter he felt that it was his duty to protect the Empire by keeping the status quo and policing Mindsgate. He told them that their previous incarnations had agreed with him and one time destroyed themselves to prevent the possibility of reformation and escape. He would provide them with the Black Melody and guidance in return for striking against those who planned escape such as the Unlord and Grimspyne. He demurred the Hand's accusations that per others in Mindsgate, Daerrus could not be trusted. The party returned to the Black Melody to consider his offer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ARRR! as soon as i figure out how to get this ship the fuck outn this plane... i'm a mothafuckin PIRATE!!!