“Wyrm-grampa! Tell us the story about the tower again!” The many little dragonborn children seemed for a moment to the ancient bard like the swarms of monsters he’d fought in his youth. He shook off that impression, though, knowing that these days his mind sometimes saw things that were not there.
“Haven’t you heard the bards sing those songs enough already?” Though he had made his life entertaining, the withered old man felt a weariness that was becoming all too frequent these days. And while his great-grandchildren were cute, he hoped (in vain, he knew) that perhaps he could avoid revisiting that night for their entertainment.
“They never tell it right! And they skip the parts they don’t believe!” The children were unrelenting in their demands, and the old bard reached for a pitcher of water to refill his glass before settling down for the tale he knew he’d have to tell.
“Well, I suppose I can’t argue with you, Ioun help me. Truth must be told to those who ask.” Nikolai wetted his parched mouth and called upon his oldest memories to make the tale live again in his mind. "We had just departed Waterdeep for the first time, having laid the great hero Mirt to rest. My friend Scout had just received the title of Trap Master of Ionia, warding off nefarious interests from the City of Splendors for another decade, and again upsetting the dark fey forces that we know had such an impact on his ultimate destiny. We were riding south towards Dambrath aboard what history would call the Caravan of Dead Soldiers. The weather had gotten quite unpleasant as night fell, storming fiercely. Just as we thought we could go no further, we looked up to see a lantern-lit building ahead… a tower-like inn that was exactly what we needed. We all took this as a blessing, a safe shelter from the storm. If only we had known that the night would mean the end of one of us…
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Our session began with some bookkeeping, as everyone showed off their spiffy new level 4 feats. We also settled the last of the conversations that had happened in Waterdeep, with Artania inviting the party to her home in Kislev, when their train got that far, and Mike/Karath verifying the conversation he’d had with the Red Wizardess Lich Valindra Shadowmantle, and the offer she made to turn Kyone into an undead creature to stop the Lolthian transformation. We also verified that Karath had been taught the Simple Automoton ritual that TUS used to animate the cart-drivers.
Then we jumped to the present, as the party was on the wagons heading out of Waterdeep. The road started off calm and uneventful, though The Unknown Soldier refused to talk about the rather ominous and upsetting reading he received from Centauri the previous night. The weather soon turned foul, however, and was soon a raging storm. When all seemed lost, and the storm too great, a tower was seen in the distance, and suddenly the party had an inn to save them from the storm.
Of course, not everyone was happy with this seemingly perfect arrangement. Jenn/Art did not stop voicing her concerns, and Karath hid in the carts in the stable while the rest of the party went inside. The inn had several unsettling factors… like the fact that there were only 7 beds set when they arrived (the 8 of them, minus Karath), plus a pile of rags for the puppy. The hotel proprietor, “Mr. Lipman”, kept speaking of his “Mother”, who was asleep downstairs. There was also the incredible magical investment in the inn, with lights that went on when people approached, its revealed ability to teleport to places it was needed, and the strange collection of rare and lost artifacts in the top floor.
After making sure the carts were not going to be robbed by the two stablehands (“Toby” and “Armand”), Karath animated MUD to shamble behind him, then put Kyone’s crystal on his floating disc and entered the inn as a “separate traveler”. While he was downstairs having gruel pushed on him (and noticing a shiny half-heart used to prop up a table), the party upstairs was making some difficult discoveries. TUS saw an axe on the wall, and Mr. Lipman told the story of an orcish chieftain who came to the inn, whose family and soldiers had been murdered in their sleep by “the sun’s murderer.” The party had told Mr. Lipman about TUS’s undead condition, and the idea that his god had sent him back to accomplish some task. Mr. Lipman knew that Mother was not interested in undead flesh, and handed the axe back to TUS (whose muscles had grown big and whose lower teeth had extended to orcish proportions). TUS charged a wall, which strangely opened-up, letting TUS leap out into the storm. Mr. Lipman said that he could not allow the rest of Mother’s snacks to escape, though, and as the wall closed, a combat began inside the giant mimic known to bards as the Wandering Tower.
Mother’s arrival in the downstairs revealed that the large oven was in fact her, the core of the tower. The entire tower continued to attack the party, with walls doing acid damage and Mother grabbing and chomping on those it grabbed. The smaller mirror mimics helped out their mother, copying the image of party members they hit before creating doubles of themselves to confuse the battlefield. Also, the paired half-heart to the one Karath saw downstairs activated, creating a portal between the 1st and 3rd floors.
The party eventually defeated the lesser mimics, grabbing all the treasures upstairs before rushing down to help Karath with Mother. The spear from upstairs roared when Johny/Scout tried to grab it, but seemed pleased when Casey/Nulath took it. An unfortunate overloading of weight on Karath’s floating disc caused Kyone’s crystal to crash to the ground (damaged, but not shattered). Once Mother became bloodied, the entire tower started to bleed acid, as the core of the tower moved to another floor and began a ritual to teleport it back to the Far Realm, where Mother could heal. Taking excessive ongoing acid damage, the party focused their attacks on one section of the wall, breaking free in just enough time to dive out and escape the bleeding ancient mimic.
When it was all over, the rain helped to wash the acid off the party, though all that remained were the somewhat acid-burned wooden stables… with no horses or carts in them. The party realized that TUS likely wanted to complete the job he was sent to do, and probably took the horses & carts so that he could have an excuse to get close to the family & home of his enemy. The PCs also realized that the brother of a solar Avenger they had met was on their List of the Dead. Taking shelter in the meager remains of the stables, the party rested until the next morning, unsure of how to proceed.
CLUES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
Among the clues that something was amiss:
-the huge oven in the first floor had no fuel anywhere for the fire;
-Mother’s “children”, Mr. Lipman, Toby, and Armand, were all former polyps of Mother, and served jobs of body parts, with Mr. “lip”-man doing the talking, and “toe”-by and “arm”-and doing the manual labor;
-the toilet on the second floor had nowhere for the waste to go;
-There were no beds or quarters for the staff of the inn
-Though “Mother” was “sleeping downstairs”, there were no stairs going down below the 1st floor
-Mr. Lipman did not actually know the gossip from Waterdeep or any current news, as the tower had only recently arrived;
Experience: The party each received 200 XP for this harrowing battle. Next game will start after an extended rest, though everyone in the party will be down one healing surge to represent the difficulty they had sleeping the previous night.
1 Map of Unseen Lands (lvl 7) [Casey/Nulath]
1 Hungry Spear +1 (lvl 2… part of Golden Lion’s Battle Regalia set) [Casey/Nulath]
1 Healer’s Brooch +1 (lvl 4) [Valarie/Akara]
1 Collar of Recovery +1 (lvl 4) [Micah/Nikolai]
1 Amulet of Life +1 (lvl 5) [Johny/Scout]
1 Scroll Case of Arnd (story item) [Micah/Nikolai]
1 Holy Book of Lusemnee the Dark Slayer (story item & rituals) [Mike/Karath]
“And that was the beginning and end of a lot of things. The tower disappeared and left a giant pond of acid just after we dove out… and to this day there’s a large swath of emptiness near the road about 10 miles south of Waterdeep, where nothing grows and no birds sing. It’s not magic… just acid and the lingering smell of the many deaths that creature caused. But enough of these old stories… it’s time for you lot to be off to bed!”
“But Wyrm-granpa, we want to hear about your undead crazy orc friend!”
Nikolai sighed, the memory coming on stronger than he’d wanted. “Let’s save that story for a different night. Sometimes the lives of heroes don’t fit nicely into happy bard’s tales. Good night, my little wyrmlings.”