Ugh, I have to start editing my Desi posts.
Anyway, D&D happened. Several people were absent, but we managed.
The party slept in the necromancers’ lair and left with the dawn as the necromancers started getting ready for bed. (They’re a nocturnal sort.)
They traveled for another day, heading in a vaguely southwestern direction. In the morning they decided to search for a path of some sort. Several of them found paths, but only Valias found one that lead consistently southwest. It wasn’t really so much a path, in fact, so much as peculiar way the trees and brush were positioned that made it an easy track to follow. Perhaps it was indeed a path once, but if so there was no evidence.
In any case, the party traveled down Valias’s Way for another uneventful day. On the third day out from the necromancers’ lair they began to hear music from up ahead. It was faint harp music, and they seemed to be heading toward the source. After a half an hour or so they heard a voice accompanying the harp, soft and melodic. A lady’s voice, in fact. They couldn’t make out the words at first, but as they got closer the words got clearer. The musician changed songs as they traveled, some old favorites some new. For instance, a recent Chrollian ballad:
They came from the Desert
On tired horses, strong and true.
And the town of Iel,
Saved twice in one night, through and through!
Brigands bow low to their mighty commands,
As do the Dead, with their terrible hands:
And such is the thrice god-blessed crew.
They met with the Lady,
As they are well-known in Lorain.
They were given a task
In the mountains across the plains.
The ancient tomb of the Drummer of Blood.
Darkness, darkness comes, the terrible flood.
They cease not for rattling chains.
The desert followed them.
Its king attacked during their quest.
The Nation of Plains gasped,
Hope was lost as they’d beat the best!
The warriors and their leader, the Knight
Returned and in moments set things a-right,
Now none can deny them their rest.
The party came to a clearing and saw a lovely hobgoblin playing her music on a stump in the middle of a small camp. She saw them as well and stopped playing. The only weapons and armor were nearby, but out of arm’s reach.
She greeted them warmly and Aries, seeing a particularly stunning female sample of his proud race, strutted up to the stump, put a leg up and asked her in Gobbledeguk something to the effect of “Hey little lady, do you happen to know where we can find a tower near here?”
She smiled politely and scooted herself away slightly. “You’ll have to talk about that with Colin,” she replied.
Soon the conversation turned to Tastish. They realized that she was a part of another group looking for the Rod of Need and that they hadn’t found it yet. Aries asked if they had followed the path, to which she replied, “What path?” Souril quickly shut Aries up. Once the party realized that this might be a trap for the rest of the group to surround them, Aries had his axe to the lady’s neck, waiting for this “Colin” guy to show up. She informed them that Colin may take a half an hour or so to show up, though, and Aries wasn’t willing to wait in that position for that long. So instead they just took the lady’s nearby equipment.
Meanwhile, as Souril’s suggestion, Xian broke away and found a tree nearby to climb and see what was further down the path. It seemed to be winding toward another huge tree, a few miles away. Xian saw a movement out of the corner of his eye and just managed to dodge a small rock flying towards him. He noticed a small goblin laughing at him from a nearby branch. When the goblin realized it was discovered, it shot down the tree and made tracks toward the camp. Xian gave chance and captured the little gobbo, asking who it was with (Colin), what it was doing (looking around), why it threw a rock at him (because he was concentrating so hard), and telling it that it could have hurt him (nuh-uh!).
Xian returned to camp, holding the gobbo up by the scruff of its neck, the gobbo looking sullen at being caught. The lady of the clearing recognized the gobbo right away.
“Brad! What happened?”
“Ah,” said Xian. “So it’s a boy.”
The lady shook her head. “No, Brad’s a girl.”
Valias, meanwhile, took an interest in Brad’s “longsword” which, it turns out, looked to him like a really nice short sword, despite the pink and purple flowery designs on the hilt. He took it from the helpless gobbo and put it in his belt, much to her loud dismay.
Valias tried to find out if the sword had any magical properties (“it’s enhanced,” is all Brad could tell him), and Aries took the gobbo from Xian and shook in hopes of getting more information.
It was about that time that Aries felt his limbs try to lock up. He broke free and looked around for his antagonist. At the same time, a beam from the forest left Xian feeling very tired, though he was certain he’d shaken off the worst of it.
Apparently, while everyone was focused on Brad a dwarf had approached from the south and a thin, almost fragile-looking man appeared from the north. Aries turned on the man, snarling. “So YOU must be this Colin guy, huh?”
The frail man jumped, shook his head and pointed at the dwarf. “No no, that’s him over there!”
And so it was. Colin did not bow before Aries’ threats, but asked him to let his little friend go. Aries did, and Brad ran to the other lady. When Colin asked them if everything was alright, Brad pointed at Valias and told him about her sword.
Valias defended himself, saying that he wasn’t going to steal it, just… how much did she want for it? He was willing to pay. Perhaps a shiny copper piece?
Brad proved somewhat more shrewd than that, managing two platinum, a dagger, a gold piece and a copper ring out of it.
Having witnessed a successful trade, Colin and his thin friend entered the campsite fully, willing to talk things through. They had apparently also encountered the violent group from before and fought them off. They had been searching for the tower in this area for several days now. Colin apparently had the ability to locate things like that, but he was having trouble pinpointing its location exactly. It should be just near this campsite, but obviously there is no tower here. Perhaps something is distorting his senses which, considering that it’s supposed to be the treasure of an ancient archmage, seems likely.
Xian offered Colin the shortened remains of one of the anti-undead zone candles. Colin accepted, this being a pleasant departure from the scene he found when he first found the party. In exchange for this gift he would allow the party an entire day to search for the tower without their interference. After that, it would be whoever finds it first. He even offered to let the party stay in their campsite, but the party declined.
They continued on down Valias’s Way and, by late afternoon, they had found the remains of the tower at the base of one of the giant trees. What was left of the upper levels had collapsed against the side of the tree and seemed oen with it. The base seemed like a simple, round, single-story building at the base of the tree. The door had long since rotted away, and on the inside they found the dusty remains of a room with a spiraling staircase leading up to the “roof”, a broken bookshelf, and an ancient desk.
Valias soon found a hidden door beneath the desk, and the party lowered themselves down by ladder, except for Aries who slipped and fell rather painfully. Aries fell again down a pit trap that Valias missed as they made their way through the underground passage. Valias continued alone as the rest of the party helped Aries out of the pit. He disabled a pressure plate he found further along and was working on the lock of a door by the time the party caught up.
On the other side of the door was an office, preserved and intact and lit by torches on the walls that burned with green flames. Otherwise, the walls were mostly covered by bookshelves lined with all sorts of books. The spellbooks on the shelves were all blank, despite their titles, and must have erased themselves somehow. Most of the rest was history books, poems, and such. “Recent history of Frostbowl, TwA 158”, “The Spells of Gannor the Harsh”, “Faith and Power”, etc. There was also an alchemy table, which Valias relieved of anything useful, and a desk with a large painting of a woman on the wall behind it. There were two large books on the desk, one a spellbook the other possibly a spellbook, but apparently sealed shut. There was also an open diary on the desk with a poem scribbled on it:
My greatest Treasure has proven Its worth.
It gave me what I needed to survive.
Her plan it was to bury me in earth
She risked hersef to save me from the hive.
My Treasure gave me words that I could say:
A way to sway a heart I start to see
Is not to cold and bitter yet to sway.
She wept and smiled, I swept her off her feet.
So now my Treasure lies in lock and key.
I hope the best for you if It you find.
By finding HOPE and FAITH and CHIVALRY
The path to Treasure certainly will wind.
But bound words on the shelf is not the end,
So fight well and be safe courageous friend!
Xian quickly noted the odd letters (lightly boxed in the actual copy) and wrote them down: “readthebookstoopenthedoor”.
“Read the book stoopen the door?” he said.
Souril corrected him. “Read the books to open the door. ‘Stoopen’ isn’t a word.”
They were prepared to start reading every book in the office, but Chet, staring at the page, noted that there were three odd things about the poem. The odd letters, obviously, was one. Also, all instances of the “Treasure” were capitalized, as were all references to it as “It”. There were also three words that were all capitalized in the line “By reading HOPE and FAITH and CHIVALRY”.
Xian asked everyone to look for books by those names and he remembered seeing one called “Faith and Power”. He found it again and pulled it. Something clicked somewhere. Valias found another one, “Hope Floats”. He didn’t pick it up right away, but took the books around it off the shelf, looked at it from every angle, and was dismayed when Souril simply plucked it off the shelf. There was another click from somewhere. After a little more searching Souril found one called “Chivalry Rising” and pulled it. A section of bookshelves descended into the floor, opening up a path. Valias immediately started down the path and found, after some walking, a large chamber complete with a large black dragon, preening itself contentedly. It did not seem to notice Valias, particularly because it was preoccupied and not looking around, partially because there was the sound of someone singing, a male voice, coming from the cave beyond the dragon. The singing voice seemed distorted by distance and echoes, but it wasn’t a particularly good singing voice in any case.
Valias snuck back to the office chamber.