14th of Nightal, 1398 D.R.
The PCs stand upon the windswept edifice, the smoking arcane traceries of the teleport spell fading rapidly on the floor beneath them.
Beyond, in the moon-lit mountain pass, they see the dim lights and silhouette of the Wyvernwatch. A foreboding, weathered monolith being whipped by snow. Dark clouds roll in from the west, swollen with sleet and lightning. They will likely be upon them within the hour. The wind howls through the pass with a mournful moan, making it hard to make out any other sounds.
It is bitterly cold here. They huddle together and bundle up their winter clothes, taking shelter against the rock wall behind them, and take stock of their surroundings.
The ledge They’re on dead-ends at the teleportation platform, with a narrow, winding rocky path leading north-west and down. It curves around the rock face away from sight and emerges again below. It’s a series of harrowing hair-pin stairs descending a hundred feet or more. The land all around is rock, cliff and snow. There is no vegetation as far as they can tell. Black ice covers the path down in patches, promising a precarious descent.
At the foot of the stairs below, they see it joins another trail that leads from the south-east to the north-west, following the direction of the mountain pass. They are fairly certain this is the main road. About 500 meters from their position, perpendicular to the pass, a second path splits off that leads directly to the tower. There it meets a small guard tower, which connects to a long straight bridge that connects to the tower’s rocky base. It was built with defense in mind.
To enter the tower, an attacking force would have to cross that bridge, probably under constant fire.
The landscape around the base of the tower is rugged and treacherous, but not impassable. There seems to be a disused guard tower on the back side of the tower as well.
P’Tar is nowhere to be seen…..there is no indication what happened to him, but they suspect something went wrong with the aged teleportation device.
The party decides they have little choice but to press on, and finish the mission. With some hesitation, they descend the slippery path and stairs, but manage to avoid any falls. Once on the main road below, the ground is far less treacherous. They are faced with a choice. To approach the tower directly from the front, somehow bypassing the guard tower, bridge and front gate (all of which look well guarded).
They opt instead to approach the tower’s far side, by crossing the rocky gorge below, which seems to have a disused guard tower. The ravine itself is rugged, but not impassable, but it is slow going due to the massive boulders, sharp rocks and deep snow drifts.
Half an hour later, they make it to the ruined guard tower behind the tower. A rock slide has demolished the outward facing wall and roof of the tower, and blocked the narrow path on the far side of the pass. Taking refuge in the small tower, they spy a small dark cave mouth just below the base of the Wyvernwatch, with animal tracks leading to and from it. They also spot several guards patrolling the roof, who would have a good view of their attempts to cross. Timing their move so the guard cant see them, the PCs make it to the small cave entrance, and immediately see the carcass of a dead deer, frozen solid. They surmise it was some kind of big cat that killed it, but that it had abandoned its feast a few days ago.
The cave continues further in, but narrows to a split in the rock just big enough to let a man through. The passage rises steeply, and curves gently, with a frozen stream of water following it all the way up. The passage eventually opens into a cave roughly 15 feet wide at its widest point. It runs roughly east to west. Kyuubi spots a cluster of small heat signatures scurrying around in the passage to the east, and the distinct footprints of large rats all over the cave floor. She also notes this cave has seen some foot traffic over the years. To the west she hears the rhythmical clanging sound of hammering. Metal on metal.
As they emerge into the cave, the rats rush forward, sensing a warm meal. Like a carpet of fur and teeth, they swarm towards them. Valeria acts quickly, and casts an Anti-Vermin Barrier, which stops the creatures in their tracks. They crash like a furry wave into the barrier. Rhiannon follows it up with a Sleep spell, which causes them all to fall limp in a deep slumber. With some confidence, they choose the western passageway, avoiding the rat carpet for now.
The passageway dead ends in a man-made wall. A quick investigation reveals this to be a secret door, which opens inward. Behind the wall, they can hear the distinct sounds of a smithy. Someone is hammering something on an anvil. The roar of the forge can also be heard. The PCs decide to open the door quietly and see if they can determine the next course of action.
Frak has been manacled to a chair for hours, when he spots the secret door open on the wall behind the prison smith. He had long since picked the lock of his bonds, and was trying to formulate a plan when one presented itself in the form of three women emerging from the wall. Valeria, trying to be as stealthy as her armour will allow her, smashes the flat of her leaf blade on the back of the smith’s head and knocks him out.
Following introductions, Frak tells them about the dungeon, cells and guards. He asks if they are also here to kill Captain Berkus. The others claim to have no knowledge of him, but explain their mission to him.
They decide to cooperate as their missions complement each other. Frak ties up the smith, and gags him.
They slowly begin to make their way out of the smithy, and investigate the cells, to see if there might be an ally they can recruit. After some unsuitable candidates, they hear the approaching footfalls of a group of guards. They take up ambush positions and attack. The three guards are dispatched quickly, with shuriken, leafblade, and bow. They clean up the bodies and the blood (with a cantrip). Frak takes the guard’s keys.
After inspecting a few cells, they meet a huge brutish man covered in scars called Fergus, who tells them he was a caravan guard arrested for killing his boss in a labour dispute. After some negotiating, the PCs free him, and continue to search for the Prince with their new ally .
They find two small guard rooms, one with Frak’s clothes and belongings, which he gratefully puts on. There is also a small pouch of jewels, which they pocket.
They head further east and find a central chamber, with a set of stairs leading up, presumably into the main body of the tower. There is a small cistern in the corner and two passages – one leading north and one south.
They decide to head south. The portcullis is closed here, and the cells and halls beyond are dark. They try lifting the portcullis, using Fergus’ strength, but the gate proves too strong. They try the lever, and that works.
Once inside the cell block, they look for signs of life, and see only a few rats, and their lair in two of the cells. They they hear it, a low moaning sound coming from one of the cells behind them. Valeria peers inside, and sees what appears to be a naked, pale figure face down, seemingly in pain.
She turns her back on the figure for an instant, and it suddenly unfurls it’s many legs, and reveals itself to be a ginat pale spider. It leaps onto Valeria’s back and bites her neck. The venom enters her bloodstream, but she manages to shrug off its effects somehow.
The party unleashes its full fury upon the spider, landing multiple devastating blows, and magical attacks. It manages to attack Valeira one more time, but is unable to penetrate her armour. Valeria skewers it with her leaf blade in the end, and it dies, twitching.
Frak attempts to collect the spider’s venom glands, but ruins them in the attempt. Rhiannon decides to inspect the rest of the cell block but stops just in time when she realizes the whole cell block south of their position is covered in webs strung in individual strands from floor to ceiling. She collects some of the webbing.
The party exits the southern cell block in time to hear more guards emerging from the northern cell block. Another fight is joined. Fergus charges the first and kills him with one blow from his ax. The other dies at the hands of the PCs. They move the bodies out of sight.
The Northern cell block is well lit, and only one cell appears occupied. The open the portcullis to the block, and Valeria strides in. She peers in the cell and immediately recognizes Prince Azoun. She calls to him, and he spins around, looking relieved. She explains they are here to rescue him, but he counters with a warning to look behind them. She turns to see a nine foot tall construct of stone animate and begin moving toward her with lethal purpose.
Battle is joined with the Stone Guardian, and it is brutal. Their attacks seem to do very little to damage it, and it pounds at them with its huge stone fists, at times punching holes through walls. Valeria attacks it with all her might, taunting it to attack her, so the others can free the Prince. For her troubles, it crushes her chest. Frak attempts to Daze it, but it has no effect. Fergus attacks it but misses, when he does land a blow, it bounces right off. Rhiannon focuses on freeing the Prince from his cell and casting Sanctuary on him after Frak opens the cell door. Kyuubi saves Valeria with a healing song, and retreats.
Once the Prince is free, the PCs flee the room. Fergus is the last left in the room, and tries to push it against a wall to allow the others a chance to flee. He sees an opportunity to run out and takes it. Kyuubi drops the portcullis, trapping the golem inside the cell block, allowing them precious time to escape with the Prince. Frak casts a Hold Portal on the portcullis. As they reach the smithy, they hear the golem
break free of his trap, its heavy footfalls pounding down the halls after them.
They rush through the secret door and out into the cold night air. They realize that once they emerge, they will be fired upon by the guards above. Azoun remembers his necklace. A device that was taken from him by the guards that allows him to send out a call for aid to the War Wizards. They look through the pilfered bag of jewels, and sure enough, the necklace is among the treasure. He activates it and a voice rings in their ears. “You must come out into the open for this to work!”
They exit the cave and hear shouts from above. Crossbow fire above them. Valeria and Azoun are hit by bolts, and are badly wounded. Two War wizards teleport to their side, and one immediately returns fire to the crossbow men above. Kyuubi also fires arrows up and fells two of them.
A few moments later, the two War Wizards teleport them all to safety. The cold and snow is replaced by the opulent warmth of the royal palace in Suzail.
The Prince’s attendants see to all their needs, healing all their injuries, and offering food and drink. Azoun thanks the PCs profusely, promising great rewards.
In the mean time, they are welcome to enjoy the hospitality of the palace.
Frak reminds the Prince of the crimes committed by Captain Berkus and his men. Azoun assures them all that justice will be done.