DM - Josh
Arbach - Half Elf Ranger - Aaron
Tak Ahnsiik - Tiefling Cleric - Brett
Peter - Tiefling Rogue - Jared
Kizmet - Dark Elf Warlock - Devin
Kizmet began to search the bodies while Peter slowly worked his way up the ramp. Arbach covered Peter, paying particular attention to the trap door that was now visible in the center of the flat ceiling. Kizmet’s search found some gold and silver as well as a pouch with a small book in it. Her ability to read any language now came in useful as she was able to ascertain that this was a book of rituals for the Cult of the Howling Wind, worshiping an elemental god of air, Arako. Peter noticed that there was writing on the walls of the tower.
While he was covering Peter, Arbach saw the trap door open. He fired, just missing the opening, and he saw a globe dropping down from the door. He grabbed Kizmet and tried to get her out the door but she was not paying attention and struggled against him. The others, Farrow, Brand and Tak were still standing at the bottom of the tower as well.
Peter saw something dropping and attempted to grab it but missed by a wide margin. The globe dropped to the floor of the tower where it shattered. The party heard a howling wind that made them catatonic, some writhing on the ground. Kizmet put her ear plugs back in but they had no effect on the magic storm in her mind. Arbach managed to kick some dirt over the place where the globe had hit. As the dirt settled on the spot the wind seemed to die down. Arbach continued to kick dirt onto the shattered globe until the wind died down completely. Kizmet was still lucid but the rest of the party was laying on the ground catatonic or wandering, blank eyed and empty.
As Kizmet got lost in reading the book again Peter decided to move upwards a little more quickly, and less carefully. He could see that the ramp ended short of the trap door and wanted to check it out. When he heard the click he froze. Looking up he saw a giant metallic ball rolling down the ramp towards him. Not seeing any way to get around it, he dropped over the edge and hung by his fingers while it rolled past.
Arbach saw Peter drop over the edge of the ramp and heard a rumbling noise. With half of the party lying at the bottom of the ramp there was no chance to get them all out. He reached down and grabbed Brand’s staff and wedged it into the join between the wall and the ramp, hoping to deflect the orb into the middle of the room. At the last minute he flinched aside but as the orb hit the staff both were shattered into thousands of pieces. Kizmet looked up in surprise, then put the book away.
Peter reached the top of the ramp, actively scanning for traps again, and could see that there used to be a wooden staircase that led up to the trap door from where he was standing. He gestured down and both Arbach and Kizmet moved up the ramp to meet him.
The party could not see any way to get to the trap door. Kizmet suggested that she blow it open with her staff. Lacking any better ideas, Peter and Arbach backed up to the wall and turned their backs while Kizmet fired off a spell with her staff. The bolt hit and the door shuttered, but held. She fired another bolt and the door, along with part of the surrounding floor and a shrieking shape, fell to the bottom of the tower. Arbach was again covering the opening, but saw no movement.
Kizmet pulled her grapnel out of her pack and handed it to Peter. Peter swung the grapnel up and got a good catch. Arbach tied a line around Peter’s waste and then the rogue shimmied up the rope, pausing at the top to scan the room. He then swung up into the room. He quickly observed everything, seeing nothing dangerous, and motioned for the other two to join him. Arbach swung out onto the rope and nearly fell off, dropping back to the ramp. He then climbed successfully to the upper floor, followed by Kizmet.
Peter started searching the room. Kizmet and Arbach walked over to the center of the east wall. There were two pillars flanking a third, taller pillar that was attached to the wall of the tower. On top of the pillar was the imprint of a dragonborn hand. Arbach reached out to place his hand in the imprint but Peter grabbed him and pulled him back. He pointed at the Drow. “It has to be her.” “Remember the Drow hands we saw in the desert?”
Kizmet looked at the other two with a sour expression. She then reached out with her left hand, paused just before she made contact, then pushed it into the impression on the pillar. She was immediately levitated into the air in the center of the room, seemingly unconscious. She hung there for a minute then dropped, straight for the hole they had blasted in the floor, and the foot of the tower fifty feet below. Arbach jumped forward and caught her, pulling her back up to safety.
It was then that he noticed that her left hand was missing. Looking over at the pillar he could see the hand, wrist and part of the arm stuck to the pillar. He reached into her stump and pinched the veins while he tried to figure out how to cauterize the wound. As he looked for a source of fire he realized that he knew a healing chant, learned from Gendry. He had never tried it before, the words had always been gibberish, but now he thought he understood them.
As Arbach cast the healing spell on Kizmet her wound sealed itself with the grey shiny look of fresh scar tissue (she’s a Drow). The two heard a grunt from Peter. Looking over they saw that he had found and opened a secret compartment in the wall. He reached in, pulled something out, then threw it at Arbach’s feet. “I think you can use this, I don’t know.”
Looking down Arbach saw a finely crafted trident. There were spikes sticking out of the base of it. The two flanking tines bent outwards while the center one jutted straight up. Arbach leaned down and picked up the weapon. He felt it suck at his hand and then a pop. He swung it, reveling in the perfect balance and lightness of the light spear. He heard a voice in his head, “I am Windvane.”
Peter searched the rest of the room while Kizmet stared, broodingly, at her hand. Finally she reached out to pull it off the pedestal but Peter pulled her away. “The priests always had to make a sacrifice to open the Vault”. Kizmet walked back towards the hole in the floor. She turned to go back to her hand but stopped when she saw that it was gone.
Finding nothing else of interest in the tower top room, Peter dropped back down to the ramp. Arbach tied the rope onto Kizmet and lowered her to the bottom of the tower. As she near the bottom she felt the rope go slack and dropped the last five feet, hearing a laugh from the room above.
Arbach swung down to the ramp and tried to pull the grapnel out but was unable to get it to budge. Leaving it behind he moved down the ramp where he found Kizmet studying the cultist who had fallen through the floor. The man had been alive when she got to him, despite his insides being spread all over the floor of the tower. He had died before she could question him and her search turned up a bandolier with four pouches, two of which contained intact globes. She took the bandolier and slung it over her shoulder.
Peter looked outside. Anselm and Mulgor and his bully boys were nowhere to be seen. Their friends were still in no shape to travel. Arbach examined the tracks and determined that Anselm’s party had taken all of the Grek and headed back towards the camp. Tak was wandering around outside the tower. The rest were catatonic inside.
Peter and Arbach made sure everyone was in the tower, with all of their gear, minus Brand’s staff, then gathered their own gear and Kizmet and headed for the other tower. Arbach led the way, guiding them around difficult patches and scouting as they went. He found the trail of 30 or 40 Shan, heading towards the location where they thought the entrance to the vault was located. Once they got to the tower Arbach searched the area for watchers or traps but found nothing.
This tower was the twin to the first except that its doors were closed. Peter moved up to the door and checked it for traps, not finding anything. He pushed one of the doors and it swung open smoothly. Peering inside he saw that the tower was a twin inside as well as out except that this tower still had wooden stairs leading from the top of the ramp to the trap door.
Peter slipped into the tower and noticed two skeletons leaning against the wall opposite the door. Arbach and Kizmet followed him into the tower and waited for their eyes to adjust. Once they could see clearly they examined the skeletons, without approaching. They appeared to have been killed by having the backs of their heads bashed in. They were obviously elvish, and Arbach recognized the armor as archaic drow armor.
The three advanced towards the ramp, with Peter in the lead. As he reached head height on the ramp the two skeletons stood up and attacked. One went after Kizmet who was lightly wounded. The other charged Arbach at great speed, driving his sword through Arbach’s guts. The fight quickly devolved into a mad scramble as Kizmet and Arbach parried and attacked while Peter tried to get into a position where he could attack from behind. Kizmet and Peter took down one skeleton. Arbach finally got a good hit with his trident. Lightning sizzled along the weapon and blew the skeleton to dust.
Arbach limped over and healed Kizmet, then drank one of his healing potions. The three searched the bodies but found nothing of interest. Peter and Kizmet then proceeded up the ramp while Arbach covered them from the ground. Peter found a push plate in the ramp, in about the place where he tripped the rolling metal orb trap in the other tower. He was able to disable the trap and move on. The two arrived at the stairs and Arbach moved up to join them.
Peter examined the steps and found a rune there that he believed would make the stairs explode, explaining the condition of the set in the other tower. Kizmet drew a counter rune and was able to disable the trap, both runes disappearing as she finished inscribing hers.
Peter led the way into the top room, which appeared to be a duplicate of the one in the other tower, with the exception that the hand print in this one was for the right hand. Kizmet looked sick as she realized this. She walked up to the pillar, paused and stuck her right hand into it. This time she stood rigid for a couple of minutes and then stepped back, hand intact, but looking haunted.
As she stepped back the tower shook and started to lower into the sand. Arbach looked down through the trap door and saw that the doors to the outside had already settled below the surface. Peter started to search the room and found a catch, in the same place that the compartment holding the trident had been in the other tower. When he opened it a trap door to the outside opened. The three stepped out and waited until the platform reached the surface and then stepped off onto the solid ground of the wastes. They watched as the tower containing their friends disappeared in the distance.