It's nice when a group uses their brains instead of their swords or spells to solve a problem.
Fengarth's Tower was on the map and had been visited many times before, but it was not originally set up to be explored again and again and again. However the group had come back many times, testing the waters and getting further as their skills and prowess grew.
But the assault on the tower would and could be decidedly deadly should they have made the choice to "kill everything and loot it". It would mean many deadly battles with superior foes, in a narrow confined area that negates any larger group fight, and against enemies that require certain weaponry to hit or damage. It would also mean that enterprising groups might miss out on getting a fully stocked and placed tower at their behest should they somehow take their time and learn what is needed to take it over.
Happily, they have grown as a party and are much less likely to race in and "whack whack whack". Which I take as good testament to better gameplay for all involved.
Write up follows:
The group readied their weapons, prepared themselves, and ran through their tactics. Then with a mighty heave the door was forced open, Fabambus webbed the area where the imp last was and Karis and Flarg charged in with weapons raised…
Seeing nothing. The imp had gone.
The group spread out, checking the chamber high and low for any sign of the small creature, both Fabambus and Coruth’tae staying in the hall. The room was circled and still nothing, until Detheron noticed that Fodder was growing agitated near a section of the southern wall.
The druid called the rest of the group over and the imp reappeared just as it finished whatever enchantment it was performing. A tear rifted open in the air in front of it, the reek of sulfur and brimstone billowing out. And stepping free from the strange rent in space was a demonic presence standing 7’ tall, thin skinned, cherry red, horned, and its shoulders and arms were bathed in 4” flames. A dretch!
Combat ensued with both the warriors engaging the demon. Flarg was using the enchanted battle axe “Blaze”, the weapon firing to life but the weapon seemed to have no effect on the demon. Karis’ own sword was turned aside and the creature struck back with definitive strength and power, hurting the front line fighters.
Spells were cast, holds and missiles; nothing seemed to have much of an impact. At one point the dretch was ignoring blows and attempting to channel the flames on its shoulders but Fabambus’ well placed magic missile ended that with a pair of violet streaks.
The dretch was not giving ground and Flarg gave up on Blaze after seeing many of his blows turned aside, pulling his morning star out and battering the demon with much greater results. Karis shifted his blows from the dretch to the imp, thinking that if he was able to dispatch it the demon would disappear. When his own sword was ineffective he drew out Kysoth’s Bludgeon and the ensorcelled mace did deadly damage against the imp.
The imp siphoned some strength from the dretch to rejuvenate its wounds but it wasn’t enough and the party made short work of the imp with Smokey tearing the little beast to shreds. Once dead the dretch went down under a barrage of blows and spells and then gated home. The imp had dissolved to a smear on the ground and the party took stock of the area.
The gargoyles did come to life when we tried to once again leave with the books and we were unsure if battling a dozen of the flying stone menaces was the right answer. It was during conversation with them (where Fabambus said he was the new tower master) that we learned of Ssisska again, who had something called Fengarth’s Charm – a gold wrapped black crystal sister to the one we were carrying in silver (identified as Magrath’s Charm – Magrath being Fengarth’s apprentice).
We conferred and decided that if we could convince Ssisska that Fabambus was the heir to the tower, we would not have to fight the gargoyles and other denizens in here – possibly taking them all over in a single fell swoop!
We left the books and went upstairs to the 7th level, beyond anywhere we had been before. The 7th floor had a spellcrafting chamber, with rolls and racks to make stretch and dry parchment. Tools and presses to make inks, a writing desk with quills and inks and a silver key. And along the southern curve of the wall was a life sized armored knight cast in marble and painted in blues and greens.
Almost CONFIDENT that the statue would come to life the party inched into the room and then thought better of it, opting to move on from here and explore further upstairs. Onward to the 8th level!
Here was an alchemy lab with beakers and vials and yards of glass tubing and braziers and burners (all cold). 8 matching bound books sat on a shelf near the counter with a locked iron box tucked just underneath. A fireplace and cauldron stuck near the eastern wall but the party got the feeling there was something else in the room. Something that danced beyond their vision and seemed to disappear if it was looked out.
Nope. Let’s not disturb this place either! Chuckle.
We went to the 9th story where there were shelves and racks covered in a number of boxes, tins, jars, and containers. A breeze blew from above, faint but steady which made the party think they were near the parapet area they had seen from the ground below (almost 150’ up). In here they took some time to explore lightly, a search for magic centering on one thing only. Crossing over to it carefully Detheron tried to detect poison and did – but NOT on the tin box that was glowing!
Examining where the poisonous residue was coming from he discovered a vial marked as green dragon’s chlorinous extract. Whoa! Priceless stuff! Inside the tin though was a stout crystal that seemed white but where raised into the light sent rainbow patterns flowing everywhere. It took some thinking and examining of it but Karis deduced that it was a crystal from the Bifrost Bridge. Very very nice!
After this we readied ourselves for a potential combat with Ssisska on the next floor and climbed it. 3 quarters of the level was open to a parapet, an iron ladder and rungs leading up to a warded door above. The creaking of wings filled the air and 3 humanoid figures with 10’ stony wings swooped into view, demonic heads and curved talons. A 4th one appeared much larger than the others and sporting a row of stony spikes coming out of its back. A trio of ravens trailed behind it. It settled on the edge of the parapet, clutching the stone lip with its feet and stared at the group.
It identified itself as Ssisska, one of Fengarth’s apprentices. It seemed to know little of the passage of time. Where was Fengarth? Would he be returning? Magrath seemed to be dead and hadn’t responded to Ssisska’s summoning. There had been visitors steady over the last 3-6 years, who were they?
We spoke honestly and carefully near the gargoyle and his retinue, taking care to say nothing to upset him or cause him concern or alarm. The gargoyle admitted that there was something leeching life from the tower and had been doing so for the last 6 years. If it wasn’t stopped the last of the wards and protections in the tower would fail and the place would crumble.
If Fabambus wanted to be tower master and get the charm (which it admitted it had hidden inside itself) as well as the command words (who – command words?? We NEEDED to get them!) to control the tower’s guardians he would need to remove the blockage over the tower’s heart.
Tower’s heart? Where was that? The basement – the roots of Yggdrassil that poke up through the soil there. Something above it was blocking the flow of magic into the tower.
And then Karis went both cold and angry. There was a room on the 1st basement level, in the center of the tower – and it had a wooden door with a rune (that Puck had identified as imprisonment long ago). And in front of that door, 9 courses high, 6 wide, were blocks of stone, and each block had a rune of imprisonment on it.
And something that was trapped behind it needed to be taken care of and destroyed. We would have to open that room.
And Ssisska feels that the thing inside that area might be the remains of Magrath – the last defender of the tower and Fengarth’s assistant.
We thanked Ssisska and told it we would return at another time, working our way down and talking about what we would have to do. Firstly, we needed to know WHAT we were dealing with – and that meant finding a divinicist. And the only one we knew of was Deathspeaker Yondal in Ponyboro.
Secondly we needed money to outfit an assault on whatever it is below us. And so far we have not been so lucky regarding that matter. It was while going through Fabambus’s and Coruth’tae’s spells that the group stumbled upon a solution to their dilemma.
They went into the 1st level of the basement (avoiding the chamber with the wards) and grabbed 4 of the best barrels they could find, emptying them. Then they lashed them to the sledge and dragged everything back to Orihalcus.
At town they went to their home where Karis and Detheron in secret cast a number of mending spells (over 40 of them!) for 5 days on the barrels, fixing them and making them sound. Then they created water and filled the barrels to the top. Finally they had Fabambus use his spell Metamorphosis Liquids to turn the water in all 4 casks into wine. Specifically the 11 year old Darkwater Valleyborne Elven wine we had (since he could only change it into something he could place on his tongue). Their goal? Take the wine barrels to Ponyboro and sell them there, using the money to pay for a reading from the Deathspeaker and possibly outfit themselves a bit should there be any coin left over.
And that is where this meeting had ended.