I know I might have mentioned this before but even in the earliest days of my playing, finding huge piles of loot and hauling them out in sack after kicking some goblin's asses never made much sense to me. Treasure isn't just neat piles of coins and swords +1 sitting on shelves. There are statues, and rings, and necklaces, and letters of credit, and titles, and favors, and books, and god knows what. Treasure isn't always easily defined but it is a reward and rewarding.
That's what's in Cornelius' Tower. Assuming the party is able to get it done: the list of "take me out as coin or magic" in the wizard's tower is: 8th level wizard's spell book, 2 cloaks of wind and chill resistance. That's it. Other "treasures" are possible to get and they are 11 Olypmian Crystals (useless except as quartz to 99.99% of the populace - invaluable to mages/clerics), a freeflowing dispel magic spellform (can be introduced to any rod/staff/wand or olympian crystal).
What the tower does offer though is almost 2,000 books, scrolls, and papers that cover a variety of subjects that anyone would want. It offers a place to scry gently the lands and environs around Shakun as well as short scrys to other places in the kingdom. It offers a title of Lord Wizard to anyone who becomes ensconced in the tower as well as a seat on the Baron's Council. It offers dozens of other smaller things that are bennies while in town and a sense of prestige to the new Tower Master.
There isn't piles of gems. There aren't gold to take out. And the cost of going in the tower and then emerging will tax the coffers of the party for sure - but the long term rewards are well worth it.
Write up follows:
We wrapped bandages and healing around Avidius, took care of Whosea, and then sat down to discuss what our next step was. We wanted to go up and take out the Para-Leech, but the zombies below needed to be resolved and we still needed to look at the furnace. Our first thoughts were though to make sure the Leech could not knock any more pictures off the wall again. So we braced a few chairs in front of the picture and then slid the table over, eventually deciding that we would also bring up the closet door from the 1st floor and block the pictures as well.
The rest of the part was attacking the wooden wall with axes, crowbars, and picks; making sure it was out of our way and would not impede our actions or movement up and down the stairs in anyway. From here we once more slid the grapple into the handle, drew back to get ready, and then pulled the door away again. Once more the two zombies came into the room where the party made short work of them. Clear now, we went to the basement and looked around.
Nothing new that we could see. Tending to the furnace showed that it was almost finished consuming the wood that was in there (3 days) and once we shook the ash free, we dumped it in the wood bin for now. We loaded the furnace with the rest of the greenwood from the wall of brambles and pumped the bellows until it was hot and running. Steiner loaded a small sack with a variety of raw goods from the crates knowing that according to the scroll we had found earlier that we would need them.
We left the basement and made sure to close the secret door so that the Para-Leech would be unable to enter it again. From here we made sure all was in place in the meeting room before continuing on our way up the steps to the kitchen and dining room. We gave it all a complete once over, making sure nothing was different or out of place before we continued on our way up to the 4th floor.
Here was where the Para-Leech had something prepared for us. The three doors in the hall were tied together with knotted and braided lengths of sheets that had been cut and tied in place – making a triangle of quivering cloth. The doors also had some pressure on them as if something on the inside was holding them and pulling on them. Try to open any one door, and all three would open. In addition, a quick scry revealed that the knotted braided rope was ensorcelled as well.
At this point we wanted to see what we were dealing with – so Marcus used his auger and slowly drilled a hole in the master bedroom door. A second hole was drilled closer to the door handle and then a light spell on a stone was pushed through and we looked in. A fat goblinoid looking zombie. Holding onto the door handle and pulling.
From here, a turn undead from Steiner had the zombie move away from the door and then Marcus used his chisel to make the hole larger. By the time the zombie returned he had widened the hole pretty far. And then he started shoving the spear through the hole in the door, plunging it into the zombie again and again and again. For 16 minutes.
Until like so much hamburger and perforated hundreds of times, the necromantic energy holding the zombie together finally failed and it slumped down and expired. But there were two other doors also with undead pulling on them – and even if we did the same thing with the holes and spears and whatnot, there would still be the ensorcelled rope binding the doors together and who knows what spell was going to happen.
During all of this, the thought returned to going upstairs past the suit of armor/golem. Once more we tested how close we could get until we verified the 6th stair was the limit for now before the golem moved. Flimflam wanted to use the snare spell again, but we could not coax the golem to step down into the loop and many times he would just kick it down the steps. Eventually we lucked out with a successful toss and then the spell was cast. The rope whipped up the steps and surrounded the suit of armor from ankle to shoulders. It started to struggle and bang around when Marcus and Erd (both elves) ran up to it with a soaking wet large sack and placed it over its head and shoulders. It was breathing out that sleeping gas and was slowly coating its chest with the greenish/yellow mixture. The two elves lifted the golem up by the arms and shoulders and carried it down to the 4th floor, down to the 3rd floor and into the kitchen where it was placed in the larder on its side. It feet were still moving back and forth and it was spewing much of that sleeping gas that appeared to be a dripping coating ring from under the sack.
The steps now clear, we went up the 5th floor (Library) and spent a few minutes while Tranis, Geld, and Kilven went into the armoire and looked back into the Master Bedroom. The zombie was indeed dead, and the Para-Leech had set up a 4’ diameter circle of sheets just in front of the armoire’s door. Snare of his own? We didn’t want to risk it so they shut the door and returned to the 5th floor.
The group took the steps up towards the 6th floor and peered in past the landing. Another full sized room larger chamber, it was a workroom of some sort. Lots of tools, stools, and benches – but pretty picked over, very little in raw materials here. There was also a water closet along the base of the steps that was gravity fed from a cistern above. We cleaned hands and moved on to the 7th and final floor.
The room was sizeable as well. A series of smaller pinkish crystals were hanging down from the 12’ high ceiling, ranging between 2 and 6’ in length each, scattered about the place. There was a larger crystal, some 18” in diameter and 2+ feet long in the center of the room, and it was showing sunlight through its surface. An iron bound chest was on the opposite side of the room, hasped and closed.
When we tried to enter the room, along the south wall at about 3’ in height, 2 metal bars 3’ apart began to emerge from the stone so we retreated. When we tried it again it happened again and they once more retreated. Eventually we waited long enough for them to fully emerge (15” or so) and then the ends flowered, spoked, and wheel grew in place – until we had 2 turning wheels sticking out of the wall.
When a 2nd person came in, a 3rd wheel emerged. But when Marcus entered, the crystal above flicked and the sunlight faded – until it relit and revealed – the area outside the meeting room on the 2nd floor below. Ahha – this is the observatory and that is how the Para-Leech was able to watch us and know about us. Turning the wheels changed the east/west, north/south, and vertical focus point of the observation. Turning them slow mean small fine adjustments; turning them fast had the adjustments seriously multiplied, shooting outside the wall of the tower and through the streets. We did note that we could not scry this room, nor could we scry the top of the tower (the vision was fuzzy).
We played with the observation for a while and a couple of us were looking at the other crystals on the ceiling. If touched or reached for, they would arc down from above until at eye level and looking it would show a fixed place in space at some location we did not recognize – each one was different and there were 40+ of them.
At 12 exactly, the central crystal grew very bright and a blast of searing light pulsed down for a minute until it ended. This also seemed to match the information we were given in the scroll of the Tower Master.
However, almost 30 minutes after Marcus began scrying, the effort was drawing and draining from his and he staggered away with a pounding headache and weariness (losing a blast of Int, Wis, and Cha). Ok, scrying is draining and should be limited to less than 30 minutes/day. Good to know!
The chest was looked over and there were no traps or surprises so it was opened carefully and inside were 11 fist sized clear faceted crystals. Olympian crystals – untouched and pure. The fare end of the room also had a set of iron rungs that went straight up to the ceiling, where a 3’ square trap door was in place and latched closed. We summoned a creature to try and open it but it could not move the latch. This had Tranis climb up, unlatch it, and climb back down. From here the summoned creature was able to push the door open and emerge. On top of Cornelius’ Tower. The metallic looking tree was up here taking up the central portion of the tower. There were also two Olympian crystals here – each on a small shrine (One to Poseidon, another to Artemis). But no Leech.
Until we noted smoke that had been on the ceiling ooze towards the opening and sieve through. Fucking scumbag – Para-Leech and escaping. We tried to run up the rungs to catch him but he materialized, and then stepped off the edge and fell 75’ to the ground below. A few of us watched horrified as he stood up, ran through the Town Square killing two people and injuring others, made it to Northgate where his killed again, shrugged of arrows and wounds, and then ran out and was free.
None of us announced ourselves to the people and we went back inside and shut the trap door. Crap. We were not going to tell anyone about what our part was in this and were instead talking about going back downstairs to the workroom and start working on the ritual. But our way was blocked – by the spectral smoky figure that we had dispelled with salt before. It was there and staring at Marcus who was the character in front. No animosity, no attacking, no flaring of magic – just staring at us.
We knew we had to get past it and destroy it before we could do the ritual, but our efforts to date had been without resolution. It was behaving differently, fixated on Marcus for some reason. He tested a few times getting closer and then backing away, reassured that it was looking and fixated only on him. Getting close enough it was almost eerily pointing at his waist. He tested numerous items until he arrived at his chain rod. It followed the end of it and as he drew it closer, a wind seemed to spring up behind the spectral figure blowing it towards the elf.
Finally, daring against all, he touched the tip of the chain rod into the ghostly figure. A moan of energy and roaring breeze swarmed all over the place as it flowed into the chain rod and was consumed entirely. A crystal on the rod’s base shimmered to light and now read “50” – fully charging the rod – but it was no longer a chainrod – the spellform absorbed was that of a dispel. Meaning Marcus had a rod of dispel magic in his possession.
Emboldened with our efforts to date we went to the Library and waited while Marcus studies a couple of summon monster spells, the group going through notes and books and whatnot. Eventually finished, we followed him to the 4th floor where he summoned a skeleton and commanded it to untie the braided sheet rope. We waited around the corner and when there was no explosion or fire, looked back to see it was done! Then he had it go into the Master Bedroom and walk towards the armoire, and when it emerged, it had the other sheet around its ankle – so we considered matter done and laughed noting it was 3:30ish on Earthmonth the 23rd.