- 1 Summary
- 2 Mission Notes
- 3 The First of Frost WK 808
- 4 Dramus' Tower Troubles
- 5 Evicting the Unliving
- 5.1 Changeling Rooms
- 5.2 Nightmare Seagate
- 5.3 Under New Management
- 5.4 Fig-mint Brownies Aren't People?
- 5.5 Feeding His Fears
- 5.6 Tea with (w)WoW
- 5.7 An Audience with Ozma
- 5.8 At Twiner's Retreat
- 5.9 An Unexpected Laundry Delivery
- 5.10 Mob Mentality
- 5.11 Webs and Welcomes
- 5.12 Changing the Curse of Events
- 5.13 Through the Scary Door
- 5.14 The Ruby Wound
- 5.15 The Burning Dead
- 5.16 Tower Offense
- 5.17 In"terror"ior Redecorating
- 5.18 Future Plans
- 6 Loot
- 7 Additional Information
- Mortimer Graves - Halfling (or maybe Halfelf) Wicca
- Tari - An Elven Earth Mage played by Michelle Ellis.
- TDP, played by Phil Judd - Human - E&E/Water
Kern Silvercrest - played by Chris - Military Scientist Adventure Full
- Lord Carzon/Dramus
- To sort out the issues caused by Dramus's Tower.
- Shares of any treasure or loot recovered. Guaranteed to minimum value of 40 Guinea's each by Dramus.
(This document is in Elvish and printed a careful, slightly exaggerated hand with a number of corrections and few calligraphic flourishes. Little sketches of flowers and vines litter the margins.)
The First of Frost WK 808
Summoned by a letter from Dramus, I make my first visit to a Guild briefing room in years, make a few new acquaintances and meet old familiar faces from previous missions.
- Dramus - He really hasn't changed. We'll apparently he's a fairy prince now, actually has a kingdom like he used to claim to, and is married to boot.
- Teeanna - The boots in question. (No, no need to be catty.) She seems a little sheltered, but very confident and self-assured. It could be the boots. They are pretty amazing.
- Kern - He's a family man now, though through a rather exotic sounding set of circumstances.
- Tari - "Out-doorsy" type, insists that she doesn't kill and eat her friends, and one of her friends is a Wyvern called "You bastard".
- TDP - the only human, poor thing, has recently taken up the being a Tank. Well, it'll be interested to see how that works with his famous nautical tendencies.
- Mortimer - still an inveterate tinkerer, philosopher, and as cute as a button.
Dramus' Tower Troubles
Dramus explains that his summoning ritual for the Tower of Knowledge is acting weirdly. It's been working more quickly that it should, the tower has been transporting between locations faster that it used to, and projecting the that doors it creates out of place, generally about 15 feet to the left(?).
He explains at some length that this may have been caused by a long string of poor decisions which includes;
- Repeatedly summoning the Tower on Haven, a demon and undead infested plane, and having the undead hitch rides.
- Allowing said undead hitch-hikers to create a replica of the Frontiers of Alusia and use it as a wacky, evil theme-park for Engalton and friends.
- Keeping the replica for some years afterwards, and using it to storage for subsequent undead stow-aways.
- Summoning the Tower into a Dwarven Council Chamber in a abandoned hold and it being attacked by wall Golems.
- Propagating an vegetable necromancer "ancient horror" in one of the rooms.
- Relying on a Agent of Savnok, Marquis of Corruption and Tower enthusiast, to create a high mana area for a speedy tower summoning.
but definitely does not include;
- His recent nuptials or his lovely wife Teeanna.
- Annoying Seir.
- Becoming a fae Prince.
We mull this over at Alphonse's, along with the current topics of the troubles in Alfheim, the difficulties of lineage, and mental illness.
Once suitably prepared for the rigours of adventuring we coach the two blocks back to Potters Lane, enter the tower, and are almost immediately on Oz.
Returning to Oz
The door opens on the side a purple tower encircled by a spiralling stair case, and my Aerial Affinity tells me we are several miles from the ground. Apparently this is normal, but the mana in Oz is still incredibly difficult to control and I managed to give myself Flying instead of Kern before Dramus decided that triggering would be faster.
Still, it's a thrill to be back and watching the clouds chasing each other in little clumps from place to place. As we feel the winds approaching, we jump off the tower and let them catch us as we fall.
The descent is exhilarating, and most of us pause for a quiet smoke at the bottom while Mortimer, currently an owl(?) catches up. During this time, no-one in Loonville pays much attention, as we are entirely too normal looking.
From there it's off to Lord Carzon's manor, a short walk to the north-west(?). Dramus fails to provide Teeanna with a coach, and it is widely speculated that he is scheming to get her out of those impressive boots of hers.
To my dismay, I realise that this was the location where, on my first adventure, that Dramus and I had given away vials of blood to this charming gentleman. The really galling part was that before were introduced I was incredibly suspicious of waht little we had heard of him and the immediately turned into a giggly mess when we actually met. Dramus has received access to his Tower for the donation, but I don't recall any such felicity from Carzon. I am very disappointed when I recall the Dramus' cavalier attitude to a new adventurers safety and I tell him so on the steps while a servant looks on.
We are led to a library, where Lord Carzon reclines on a chaise-lounge and greets us with drink and fine tobacco. I stifle my misgivings about our last encounter and try and keep up with the meta-physical discussion about the Tower issues.
Lord Carzon Explains
Explains that he a little miffed with Dramus, that is. He confirms that the Savnok's agent (he says "minion") intercepted the knowledge of the ritual and has been practising it and slowly growing more capable. If her passes it onto his Master, consequences are likely to be dire, and it accounts for some of "extra" doors that Dramus has been seeing.
Additionally, something is "riding" or growing more independent of Dramus' portion of the Tower of Knowledge, which is the same structure with one door per "official occupant" which they can cause to appear where they are capable of summoning it. The "new leaseholder" has been trying to split away only in recent months to years and has been causing a the Tower to be come less stable and "leave behind" doors as well.
There was a third problem, but I may have tangled it with other complicated ruminations, such as the mysterious corridor that Carzon has access to and the fact Dramus could have moved his door to the bottom of the Tower in Loonville by will alone. But, since there are currently at least two separate entities trying to carve their own stake on the tower, Carzon would like it fixed.
In deference to the Guilds mercenary nature he is willing reimburse the party, but points out that the problems was largely due to the various uses that Tower had been put to. Dramus is quick to offer his own, recently Fae-enhanced, blood and I felt sure he was about to offer someone else's. I though it was probably just the Azurian Blonde making me a bit jumpy, but Carzon explains that he using the blood to add species to Oz, and he hadn't found any Fae yet.
This prompts a slew of terrible questions that I manage to suppress until we are on our way out; Am I, in some weird way, a parent? An absentee parent at that? Did Dramus and I have children and not even know it?
This is all very troubling....
Evicting the Unliving
It makes sense that turfing out the undead from the giant replica of Seagate and the surrounding countryside should be the first stop, since the last lot tried to drive him mad and required Engalton's intervention to sort it out.
To evaluate our approach we assist Dramus in series of experiments to determine the extent of his control and the malleability of the rooms in his tower.
I volunteer my old room, on the basis that it's not going to needed again, and it should be nicely symbolic of a clean break if we end up making it disappear.
The rules boil down quite quickly though a series of tests with people, objects, animates, and cold iron being present in the room.
- Dramus knows when a room is occupied by a sentient and it severely effects how much he can sense within the room and prevents him from changing the room's format or an object in the room in a fashion that would interfere with them.
- The presence of Lesser undead, objects not created by the tower, and even cold iron do not "lock" the room as if it was properly occupied, and he can sense the void they occupy in the material that was created with the room. The objects are displaced he if changes the dimensions of the room.
- Teeana's Telepathy and ESP picks up entities in nearby rooms as if they were in a relative position to the corridor, despite many of the rooms totally overlapping. Unfortunately she backfires a Telepathy and the spell comes into effect with a gigantic range but slightly less than half the full arc 360 degree arc.
( I'm glad for the blessing that western Witch gave me and keep my thoughts amicable and peaceful while the Telepathy is directed in my direction. But since that's never worked for very long and the itchy feeling at the back of my neck is driving me mad, I move around to "get on her good side" as soon as I can.)
- The overall dimensions can be changed easily, and the substance and dimensions of existing objects can be altered if the alterations make sense, which wasn't something I was personally expecting. Basically, if the scale is rational objects can be grown and shrunk; i.e. he could make an bed large or small enough to accommodate a hobbit or a giant, and he can change the patterns and materials as he chooses, but again only as it fits the context. Sadly this preclude shrinking the replica to a scale model or changing everything to glass.
- Teenna isn't up changing the colour of the drapes to match the carpet yet.
Our investigations are interrupted by Granite announcing a visitor and Lord Carzon's man delivers us a number of vials of shimmering crystals.
These transpire to be Ozma's Tears provided to us by Carzon in the hope that they will help. There is little confusion as to whether they originally intended for us, and this deepen with a DA question.
They are "Crocodile Tears" and as such, don't have the effects that others in the party have witnessed previously. They instead create a number of Crocodiles of "indeterminate size". Fascinating.
Whilst Teeanna's telepathy had such great range, we decided to venture forth into "Twiners Room" since that would give us the most preparation time for encountering any inhabitants. Dramus created a new door from the "Pub" room to the Seagate replica's version of the neighbouring house to 9a Potters Lane, as the only other leads through "Twiner's Room". He tries to sense what the occupant of the replica are up too, but he gets a hazy impression and effort drains him more than an afternoon's playing with the other rooms. We equip ourselves and head to see what he found so frightening.
It was an odd sort of Seagate, as there was no-one around. And it was misty, hard to see more than a block ahead. Teeanna reported various minds of rats and dogs, but nothing out of the usual. We found that this place must truly be a reflection of Dramus' nightmares - all the pubs were closed, with signs indicating they had run out of alcohol.
We headed toward the river and had got a faint, then stronger, smell of something metallic. Something iron like, something blood like, with other flesh and gore thrown into the mix for good measure. This was the river. Around this time Teanna had noticed a dozen or so minds around 400 yards away, which seemed normally hungry. Dramus tried locating an undead of the area, and very shortly afterwards Teeanna reported the minds were coming our way. We put up a couple of walls of stone as defence at the our end of the bridge, where we could only just make out the far end, expecting this to be a good defensive position. TDP reported through his wizard eye that they seemed to be slightly insubstantial and hovering a bit while they moved.
What we did not expect was them to do was swoop across the river below the bridge where we couldn't attack them, so many of them managed to engage us in melee. Teeanna had said the one being chased away by her phantasm was envisioning it as a creature of fire, and so she triggered a Hellfire, which took out a lot of the creatures, DA called them Ghast. There seemed to be one in charge, or at least slightly larger than the others, who got larger when a stream of corruption was cast at him. Those in agony were going to the river to feast on the gore to make them more energised. However, in the end, we prevailed, without major injury.
Post-mortem and post-post-mortem DAs furnished us with few interesting acts about our new friends.
Some of them originated from Haven and were several years dead, but the bulk were "recruited" locally, which happens to still be Oz despite the Towers appearance of having ceded from it's homeland, within the last seven months. They have no college and are sentient, but luckily do not drain life. We decided makes them approximately "Medium Undead". Their claws drip a venom that causes despair, while their eyes also mire the on-looker in apathy and helplessness. TDP was effected by their gaze even through his Wizard's Eye and the combination of that and the venom left Kern a helpless wreck, crawling on the ground.
It's being killed by the venom that turned the unfortunate wretches in these creatures, which are apparently controlled by something but we were unable to determine what the source was, or if it had a Rank we could try and outmatch.
- Dramus, on the "Bloodwater Bridge" in "Nightmare Seagate": "This isn't a good spot for a picnic."
Under New Management
We crossed the bridge and made our way in the direction of the Guild, to see if the place was in the grisly state reported by Engalton after his visit. The scenery was little different around the north side of the bridge, but the sun definitely rising and starting to strip away the thick fog that had surrounded us. It made the dishevelled state of the buildings a little clearer and started to give the breeze off the river a really interesting tang.
Mortimer spotted a sign, grimy and partially obscured, and muttered: "Oh my, I didn't think that they had a Guild too." Swiftly we were clustered around looking at a sign stating "Seagate Guild of Arachnids - Two Miles" and trying to nonchalantly direct Dramus' attention elsewhere.
Dramus was neither distracted for long or easily reassured that the words on the board could mean anything, and didn't necessarily refer to anything huge and starting with "S". But the Guild is one of the few landmarks and should be a good place to find some sort of clues, so we press on.
Teeanna's Telepathy started to pick up scattered groups of minds which she described, with what I though was was a impressive display of imagination, as the thoughts of peasant rousing to do morning chores. Though just to make sure that Dramus' imagination was not neglected his short-sword, Sting, starts to give off a distinct glow.
- Dramus - "Peasants aren't a threat."
- Mortimer - "Someone in your profession should be a little more sensitive to the idea of angry mobs."
The minds Teeanna senses seem clustered in little groups and thinking about their activities, but the activities she relates sound strange and exotic even to the rest of us. Tending maggots, checking the Fae Rings, and wrangling Brownies seem to be on the agenda. TDP's Eye scouts the nearest hovels, but the occupants and dwellings look normal, human, and properly rustic to him.
We select Kern and Tari as the least bizarre looking members of the party, and they go to speak to one of the farmers on Dramus' behest. Dramus charges them specifically to find out who they pay taxes to.
Jerry, a rabbit farmer, explains patiently that they part of a consortium of about 100 families, that they haven't heard of "feudal lords" before, and the farmers produce food and crafts which they trade with the Arachnid's Guild for manufactured goods. DAs are also telling us they they are all 23 months old and they also come from Oz.
Jerry also helpfully tells us that some of the farmers have Fae creature like Brownies and Sprites for their customers, who's gigantic spider-shaped building is now looming out of the mist at the top of the hill. At this point, I was a little concerned that Dramus might start foaming.
- <party> - "Do they talk?
- Jerry - "Weelll, they do twitter a bit."
Mortimer helpfully tinkers with the door of one of the rather capacious rabbit hutches and gets a couple of very, big bunnies for his assistance. He plonks them in a sack and we head up the hill further.
While most of the party are having a fascinating conversation (regarding the how this uncanny arrangement came to be, it's possible effects on Dramus' state of mind, the fashions in Alfheim this decade, and Tari's last visit with some other Elven guild members), Darmus and Teeanna attempt to find out more about the trade in Brownie flesh.
At some point, when reminiscing about the time I first met Dramus and when he employed me as a governess I mentioned that I wasn't entirely sure that his intentions towards me. Or women in general. During my (somewhat difficult) explanation to Tari what I meant, we discovered a common acquaintance with that shoddy little catamite, Albion. This got the nature of my suspicion across, but might have been overdoing it a little. Still, Tari doesn't seem like the type to gossip. I shouldn't taunt Mortimer though. No matter how appealing he looks, his looks can be quite unnerving.
Dramus seems somewhere between despondent and angry that there could be something like 8000 fae creature trapped in a sophorific state created by the mushroom ring pens on the twenty or so "ranches" in the community. Without easy access to a new door, he contents himself with rescuing the two brownies he was almost able to have a conversation with.
The origins of the creatures we've encountered suggests that something occurred nearly two years ago, which coincides with the date of Ozma's eleventy-eleventh birthday, her being kidnapped, poisoned with an apple, and her feverish dreams afflicted much of Oz with either lycanthropy or inversions of their normal personae. Possibly some of that influence was channelled through Dramus' personal fear and neurosis, which ties in with the fact that the cure was a kiss from a certain Fae Prince. Mortimer seems to think the whole thing has an air of faintly cute maliciousness, which he doesn't see completely divorced from the taunts of a young, imaginative girl in a mean-spirited mood. I'm more convinced this as been arranged, though probably manipulating the energies of the events described, to shape a very specific kind of torment, perhaps aimed at weakening the most externally of the various "Powers of Oz".
The fact that Dramus gets unaccountably modest when we mention this is, in itself, very worrying. Also, the biggest problem with my theory is that it would take someone who knew Dramus very well to so effectively "pull all his levers" as Mortimer puts it.
We are trying to decide who best to seek advice from first, a discussion in which someone raised the worrying spectre that Carzon my not entirely trust worthy as he may have been concealing information about Fae being "on Oz", when we note flyers in the distance. TDP, using a cunning contraption to enhance his sight, make out a flight of six wasps carrying suspiciously multi-limb riders to the... ...structure on of the hill.
Prompted by this and the advance of the morning light, we press back down the hill, treating ourselves to a view of the "Bloodwater" darkening the waters of Confederation Bay. Once back through number 9 Potters lane and into the Tower, Dramus takes us immediately to the west of Oz and states that we are going to the Truth Pond to check whether the Brownies that he rescued are really Brownies.
He's starting to act quite uncharacteristically, and when we have a small problem with the flying spells he behaves as though he doesn't trust me at all. I'm very worried that this artfully constructed paranoia of the Nightmare realm has started to unhinge him. Also, I'm quite concerned about the effects that Truth pond water might have on allegedly "imaginary" creatures. Or vice versa, for that matter. Maybe that was the intent all along?
And what happened to talking to the various wise denizens of Oz to get some advice?
Fig-mint Brownies Aren't People?
Feeding His Fears
I try and cajole everyone to to stop before we do anything rash, and suggest a picnic. Predictably this works, but the discussion seems a bit heated. Teeanna tells everyone off for carelessly mentioning "the s-word" in front of Dramus, and though the creatures were right there (and I hardly think that he was about to forget about them) it's good to see she's trying to take care of his welfare.
Teeanna - "I think it go right up to the point of rudeness for his friends to discuss them right in front of him. Even if we choose to ignore what you say, don't think that means we hear don't you."
Possibly it's the way that she couches the reproach, and I think I remembered it correctly, but Mortimer seems particularly nettled.
Mortimer - "I imagine it's a little like being savaged by a chihuahua."
Clarissa - "Remember that would be more of an issue for you than the rest of us."
One of TDP's Crystals start vibrating and from Tari's DA it appears that the Wicked Witch of the West has taken an interest in us. Mortimer starts twitching rather alarmingly. Apparently they are acquainted and he is one of her favourites.
(At some point some mentions that Dramus has a brother. I didn't even know that he still had family.)
A few at a time, people head down into the misty bowl containing the Truth Pond. It seems simpler not to object at this point, and try and screw up my own courage to do the same. It wasn't an unpleasant experience 13 years ago, but it changed the way I thought about myself in a fundamental way. Besides, what has truth got to do with my life at the moment?
I'm sure it's not germane to the rest of the adventure but everyone returns looking well, though Kern does come back rather muddy. But it didn't raise any more comment than my own choice to go naked, aside from the tattoos of course. It seems wiser than wearing the fur of a sentient cat.
Anyway, by the time I get back Teeanna has applied the collected Truth Water to a Brownie and some rabbits and they have both turned in small white pastilles with "D" printed on them. They DA as formerly living but have no GTN to speak of. Apparently, if you swallow them they are intrinsically supposed provide sustenance.
It seems clear that the Tower is producing them the same way they it provided for the inhabitants. Can we extended this logic to the humans and spiders? Should we return with the alarming pumping contraptions that Mortimer is already in a sketching in a frenzy, brimming with Truth Water and wash them away? Actually, do we even have the right? Teeanna seems to think we are entitled, but I could be more convinced. And what exactly is the Tower providing sustenance for? Is there an entire ecology in there?
The fact that it's inhabited will stop Dramus from making "Truth Rain" or the like, and we experiment with the blood collected from the "Bloodwater". It turns into simple water, presumably just being the liquid sustenance that the Tower produces.
At about this point we spy a group of flyers in the distance. It's very likely to be the WWOW and a troupe of flying monkeys according to Mortimer. He seems eager to leave before she arrives.
Clarissa - "Playing hard to get, are we?" Mortimer - "We're not playing."
He also explains that "the first W is silent" in her name. At that, we consider that no-one here knows her real, just her title.
Tea with (w)WoW
The flyers draw near and the winged monkeys start scattering something that flutters down around our picnic site. As they settle, we see they are dark, glossy leaves and determine that they are Black Mistletoe (apparently for dampening magic) and the Lady herself descends. She looks different to what I personally remember, being a hunched, human woman, complete with a hooked nose and sundry warts. She is offered tea and sits down to chat.
And what do you know, she is extremely taken with Mortimer. She compliments him lavishly and says that she "loves the smell of curses in the morning." Mortimer is extremely charming in return, handling her with aplomb and delicacy without committing to anything onerous.
Once tea was finished and Mortimer had explained that we had to be about our urgent mission, we bade the WWOW goodbye and prepared to head back to the Tower. As a keepsake from the WWOW he received a single black rose, apparently dripping with Love Philtre. Kern thoughtfully collected the leaves before we left.
An Audience with Ozma
So as not to provoke further attention for Mortimer, we change our minds and decide to detour our of the western quarter head for the Emerald City and enquire after Ozma. The city is as bustling, lively, and painfully green as ever.
We are granted an audience, and Dramus is tackled-hug by an excited Ozma, who immediately marches everyone to her room to show us the painting she has been working on. It's spread from the canvas and along most of a wall.
She asks us if we liked the Tears that she made us especially, after the previous ones were greatly appreciated. We explain that we haven't had a chance to try them yet and skirt around the tricky subject that rather than making people skip around at high speed as the last ones had, these ones summon gigantic reptiles.
(Incidentally, Ozma doesn't know the WWoW's full name either.)
The rather exhausted looking Chancellor tells us that nothing much untoward or unusual has happened since the events of Ozma's 111th birthday, for which he looks greatly relieved. Teeanna foists a Sustenance Pill off on him and he enjoys it, and puts the flavour as part mint, part some sort of fruit. We eventually realise he must mean figs, and wonder at what malevolent agency is turning Dramus' figments into fig-mints.
Dramus, the famed Necromancer, enquiries about much needed help - "Do you know someone who can control undead over a large distance? Oh, that would be me."
At this point, we decide Twiner is definitely worth talking to as, even if he can't control the undead, he may simply have encountered them if they tried to leave through his room while Dramus was using his for a buffer zone.
At Twiner's Retreat
We return to the Tower and head through a door in the central "pub" entertaining area - straight in a foetid swamp. These adjacent rooms are really not very adjacent, I see. From a raised path surrounding the rank water and moss festooned trees, we watch as Dramus hails the Ancient Horror.
A figure rises slowly from the muck, clearly once a humanoid creature now a mouldering corpse covered in filth, mud, and tangled in some sort of roots. It speaks in halting, raspy tones but it's Elvish is near faultless.
There is some minor discussion about the rest of us not being food and it's "wellbeing", during which it becomes rather plain that Dramus has not visited in a quite a while, and what sort of environment it favours. Though the tower seems to suit it's basic requirements but it still feels the need to... ...propagate. I'm not sure I'm wild about finding out how it does that.
Regarding the undead in the adjacent room, Twiner becomes almost cagey and doesn't expand beyond the fact that it has seen "some". Dramus' neglect of his pet may be showing and we leave it be.
An Unexpected Laundry Delivery
Almost as soon as we've left, Granite announces that Dramus has a visitor, at the "Frontiers of Alusia" door. Unfortunately, the most he can tell about it is that it has lots of legs and wants in. I try and reassure Dramus as the others go to confront the visitor, but they return followed by an animated, walking chest which is exclaiming what sounds like "Help Feyan!"
It transpires that a chest, very much like this one, belonged to an adventurer name Feyan some years ago and apparently it wants us to rescue him in "In the woods" from "Nasty things!" It repeats its requests many times.
DAs verify that it basically matches what is remembered of the article and it survives being splashed with Truth Pond water. It is said that the chest can take us to the location instantly, if we climb into it. The big hitch is that, as Mortimer explains it, that you arrive but your equipment remains, apparently neatly pressed, in the container. And this includes weapons, amulets, and the like. And no, the chest doesn't travel instantly after you and has to walk.
Despite these many caveats, Dramus is rearing to go. Everyone else seems less certain...
Mortimer(?) - "I think it's smarter than most adventurers. Hell, it can do laundry!"
Mortimer Divinates the luggage revealing that it several decades old and it's magic appears similar in nature to a bag of holding, though rather more "leaky". It also can employ ancilliary cleaning magics but, more worryingly, it has been the target of magical attacks from Celestial, Necro, and Mind magic, though there are few other signs in evidence.
Teeanna attempts to divine the future regarding using the box to find Feyan, and receives a vision of her and Dramus hanging, naked and from their ankles, from a respectable distance up a healthy larch. This redoubles efforts persuade it to lead us instead, and despite the very convincing impression of malevolence it gives, either because of our wish to change it's plans or to punctuate the threat that faces Feyan, we manage to cajole it.
We return to "Nightmare Seagate" as evening is falling , Dramus fixing the door the Luggage wrecked as we pass through, and I cast flying on everyone, bar Mortimer and the box, so we can keep up with the latter. It goes much better than last lot, and I think I'm getting "mana-legs" back.
We are crossing the bridge before the winds arrive, but it gives Teeanna an opportunity to sprinkle some Truth Water on the Bloodwater's flow. It doesn't have much visible effect, and we might have to get a lot more. From there the Luggage' path is clearly to the top of the hill and will take it through the scattered farmsteads and to the Seagate Arachnids Guild.
The lively discussion about the application of the Truth Water and more violent solutions to the Farmers and Spiders, divided along lines of what boils down to authenticity. I tend more towards Mortimer's view that as they experience sentience and have memories of a life they should be treated as both sentient and living. Teeana and Dramus are more of the opinion that since they are counterfeits, essentially made of their magical food, they are not part of any moral equation.
Mortimer, Kern, and myself are deligated to jump ahead of the Luggage and try negotiate with Spiders, but befor we have gone very far we spot a torch-lit procession near the farmers homes. It's distinctly linear and keeping sombre pace, and Kern volunteers that it's probably for the Brownie Farmer that Dramus is likely to have Petit Morte'd during their encounter. We dash back to confirm this, but leave before the "they're just pills it doesn't matter if he gets buried" arguments rattle Mortimer too much.
The three of us head south again, leaving the others to continue to vandalise the Fairy corrals, actions which seem wildly at odds with the notion that these people, Brownies and Humans, are entirely fictional.
We flying over the procession and it's all too clear that they are heading towards a pyre, rather than a burial plot. We discuss schemes to snatch the body off the pyre, but when a DA reveals that the humans are as "notional" as the rabbits and brownies, it somewhat takes the wind out our sails.
Clarissa - "So we either leave him to burn, completely ignorant of his fate, or rescue him probably to have Dramus refuse to revive him, or Teeanna to turn him into a small white lozenge, or his kin kill him with a pitchfork for coming back from the dead, or his reality to shortly be collapsed if we succeed in the mission?"
We decide to try and at least gain some information from the farmers, and maybe drop some hints that the funeral is a little premature. Mortimer drops his Unseen and approaches the first family we met, but the recent events have made them slightly suspicious of strangers. There is a roar of outrage and cries of "Murderer!" and "Slayer!" and no amount of charming Mortimer seems likely to avoid further burnings tonight. We scarper and decide to see if the arachnids are more tractable.
While we are involved in this Dramus has gotten bored with busting mushrooms and has flown over the crowd dropping Truth Water onto them. We hear the confusion and chaos caused by farmers randomly "disappearing", but imagine it's our own hue and cry.
Webs and Welcomes
We land further up the hill and once we are within a few hundred feet of the entrance/mandibles, Kern notices a thread break as we pass. We can see these silken treads getting denser and denser as you near the Guild, so we decide to stop and see if this constitute "knocking". Sure enough, three spiders emerge from concealed trapdoor nearby, two huge black ones as tall and long as a horse but at least twice as bulky that DA as "Trapdoor Spiders" and a smaller reddish-brown "Red Widower" which is a Firemage. They all have objects taht could be armour or weapons of some sort fastened to their limbs and have other amulets are the like about them.
We hail the trio, and they chitter back. The red one, which appears to be in change, does something (?) and it is suddenly speaking in Mortimer's voice. We explain that we are hoping to aid the owner of an certain walking artefact. They are painfully aware of the existence of the Luggage, as it burst out of a new door in their Vaults and wrecked quite a few things in the process. During the conversation Luggage catches up with us and ploughs towards the entrance while being slowed, but by no means completely arrested, by a barrage of webs and spells from concealed apertures around the gatehouse formed by the head.
"Nameless" the Red Widower, assisted by Mr Smith and Smyth, assents that they happy to deal regarding us getting passage for the Luggage down the Vaults if try and minimise the damage it does and remove the extra door behind us. We return to the party with this proposal and visions of what we will have to do to Dramus to get him inside dancing in our heads.
Changing the Curse of Events
It takes a little doing, but Dramus accepts that best way to get him through the Guild would be for Mortimer to Damnum Minatum away his sense of sight and hearing and let us lead him through.
Actually, it was going start with a blindfold but once the Hypnotism from Teeanna takes, we think better about something that might fall off unexpectedly. They can share thoughts since they were married, so I imagine that is why he trusts her so implicitly.
? - "Can he see through your eyes?"
Teeanna - "No, I'm not a familiar of his."
The suggestion to stop him from resisting the curses is very effective. In fact, they both work far too well, leaving him also afflicted with a twitch, numbness, a nasty rash, and several warts.
At that point, we recall that Kern picked up the Black Mistletoe from the picnic with the WWoW. It's secondary effect to dampening magics appears to be that they enhance curses.
Mortimer - "Can you tell Dramus that it's all Kern's fault?"
Teeanna - "He can work that one out for himself."
I try stress that the effects of long term sensory deprivation can be mentally harmful, and advise that Teeanna reassures Dramus over the mind link they share. I think I managed to get the point across?
Teeanna - "He's in my world now...."
We fly up to the "SAG" with Teeanna carrying Dramus, and we find the spiders still struggling to control the Luggage, which seems to broken free a number of times and gotten closer each time.
There is some pretence of them charging us for allowing us in to shepherd the Luggage, but this falters the determinedly Luggage break free once more and we point out if we don't follow it may just emerge again looking for someone else to help. During this formality of small-talk while TDP calms the Luggage down, Mortimer also discovers that they undertake missions much like we do and, interestingly, they pay less tax than we do. We resolve not to pass this on to Dramus.
We are taken into the building, through a room filled with tiny spiders able to detect cursed things who show up Dramus and the sack of leaves very clearly, and down to the Vaults. Dramus' short-sword, Sting has started to glow very, very brightly and vibrate slightly. I take it off Dramus to keep it from touching anything flammable or one of our hosts. Between that and webs brushing our faces and hair, Dramus being numb is turning out to something of a blessing. Mortimer is adamant that Kern doesn't get to take credit for it however.
We are taken deeper in the complex, through some very large doors and into a room with a regular, rectangular wooden door, much like the ones in Dramus' living quarters, set into the rounded wall. It sticks out quite a lot as the previous doors have all been the match of the circular tunnels and made of some sort of thick web that parted somewhat like a curtain. It has been barred and is blocked by a pair of gigantic black beetles, while there are unfamiliar looking siege weapons pointed at it from the other side of the chamber. We ask a few questions and are told that it door was only noticed after the Luggage initially broke it open a few days ago and some undead have tried to break through since.
Dramus cannot sense the door, or more strictly can sense the absence of the door as a regular, smooth-edged hole. This seems to confirm that it's been purposely placed and fashioned, though what that means is another thing altogether. DAs tell us that door/portal leads to Oz as well and is two way. The spiders explain that they will need prior warning and a little time to open it and evacuate the room, leaving the beetles, so we can uncurse Dramus. While more observations are made, TDP and I try and distracted the Luggage with some of my articles of clothing while we simultaneously attempt to conceal Sting's blazing aura by wrapping it in my evening dress which handily changes into chain mail.
Once that is done, Dramus is re-cursed and the spider specialist is let in to unlock the door. It is a ancient looking creature that floats above the ground with each pair of its legs clasped together. It chitters and murmurs and each of the sigils on the wall around the door glow and fade in turn. The beetles move aside, but their numbers are bolstered by another two beetles and the bar is removed. Even after that and the spiders have retreated from the room again, TDP is obliged to use Opening before we can turn the handle. We have an hour to return, this way before they reseal the door as hard as they can, and Mortimer is presented with a glowing orb which fade before the time is passed.
Below us, on the other side is a desolate moon-lit landscape, with bare mountains, blasted plains and the ruins of a city. Dramus and Mortimer are immediately put in mind of Haven, and I'm filled with a dread I can't place. Just to cheer us up, Dramus notes that we are still inside the Tower and on Oz, but this place is completely alien to him and he has no control over it. Have we found the usurper's lair?
Through the Scary Door
We quickly discuss the different mechanics of created doors and summoned, while the luggage is already heading down the winding path to the bottom of the cliff. Apparently we can't summon the regular Tower "entrance door" to a point inside the tower, which this still is, without collapsing the universe or something. Normally Dramus is "just" joining to distant points within the tower with a another room. But here he can't do either. Talk about an academic discussion.
Mortimer - "It's not a real door, it's merely a place between two rooms."
Clarisa - "Like... a door?
Deciding to at last get our bearings before the door is firmly closed, we fly and follow the Luggage up the huge ravine and towards a fortification that stretches the full length of the valley. The fortifications appears to be facing up the valley and the Luggage is heading straight towards it. On the approach, Mortimer spots a figure limned in silver on one of the towers that make up the fort. It appears to be an insubstantial sentry and between Teena and Dramus we have at least 5 "sleepy" Greater Undead about. Mortimer isn't able to rouse it by addressing it, so we land and the Tari and Kern lash the slumped figure with DAs - apparently it's Nightgaunt cursed with eternal sleep and it's been an Undead for between 5 and 7 years. Below we hear a ominous noise of something heavy colliding with a large metal object.
Down through the trap door we find the other four, who have fallen through their rotting beds, and discover that the curse has to be redeemed in some way and they originated (became undead?) on Alusia. We descend further to discover that the sound is the Luggage battering itself on some huge brass doubles doors. It appears that they are a "pull", but with hands and a Opening from TDP we are able to do a little better.
The doors were at the far end of the fort that faces a steep rocky slope, but these doors open onto a forest path. Both sides of the door are "Oz" and the controlling entity of both reveals that it is contested between Dramus and "Spectre". Again the age of 5-7 years comes up.
The time we arrange with the spiders is starting to expire, so we head back, sending Mortimer ahead to see if he can negotiate an reasonable extension. Before we even get back he has made a deal for 7.5% of our salvage, 10 truesilver minimum in advance, to have the door opened 4 hours hence, then 4, the 12, 12, and finally 24. Maybe spiders can't appreciate how charming he is, but it's better than being locked out.
We return to the forest door, hastened by a low howl of many, many voices rising from the ruined city and noting the Luggage has gone ahead already, pass through and close the door behind us. Scouting quickly, TDP recognises the country as being south west of Cazarla, near Ruby Waters. Is it the same giant room? Dramus seems to think so, and TDP can locate Jerry the rabbit-farmer from near the SAG in a logical direction. We find the Luggage trampling the foliage in a clearing, apparently the last spot it "saw" Feyan. The tracks are devastated according to those with an inclination for rooting around in the undergrowth, and we have been on the go for nearly 24 hours, so we decide to camp.
Tari summons some inedible foxes and interrogates them about the surrounding terrain. Apparently the relative area of Ruby Waters gets avoided as it both "smells bad" and contains creatures higher on the food chain than they are. We set watches and pass the night. Predictably, I sleep badly and nearly forget myself when Dramus starts me awake. He's probably lucky that I know him well enough to recognise him when I'm half-awake. For that matter, so am I.
And for some reason they expect me to prepare breakfast. Clearly I'm not as infamous as I thought. Still, no-one is poisoned unexpectedly, so it turns out okay.
The Ruby Wound
We fly in the direction of the Ruby waters, but the lake isn't what we remember. It's been replaced by a vile looking mass of a roiling lava-like substance, but smelling of death and giving off less heat than it would if it was natural magma. There is a 300' dead zone around the "water's" edge and the trees at rim of this look far from healthy. The village is where we expect with the addition of a tall black tower, also surrounded by a deforested area, but the few inhabitants we see are very odd. One appears to a zombie with actual functioning bandages (rather than ceremonial wrappings) and there is skeleton with a splinted arm? We are quickly aware that we have stirred some commotion in the village, and see some more threatening figures moving about.
An Earth Elemental moves to collect a scoop of the ooze from the shore as a quartet of figures ready a pair of tatty looking griffons for flight. When they start dipping there arrows into the ooze being borne by the Elemental we decide to fly out sight, assume Invisibility and double back. The luggage is just arriving to provide a distraction, but the last we see of it is a hole opening in the earth and swallowing it whole.
We return to land at the edge of the woods, close to the tower, and as we fly in we see the griffon-riders circling, looking for us, and catch glimpses of invisible, undead crows as they briefly pass through Witch-sight range. Neither seem to have spotted us, and we swoop in to drop off the Earth mages to get some Elementals of our own going.
As we do this, TDP spots what he thinks is something invisible gathering and possibly consuming the ooze at the edge of the lake. Has the Elemental been made invisible, or is there something else out there capable of touching that stuff?
Dramus can sense that there are at least 5 Greater Undead and 20 Lesser Undead in the immediate vicinity, all in the region of the village. That and waning mood-lighting produced by the Tower, though it may or may not hinder the Undead, makes it clear that we'll need to formulate an effective plan and decide to repair to his portion of Tower to regroup.
We rise early and head back to the vicinity start to enact the scheme. Our numbers bolstered by Tari's Wyvern "You Bastard" and a pair of Earth Elementals who prepare fortifications, under Mortimer's directions. They are based around the Pentacle that Dramus prepares to summon 7 of the Lesser Undead away from the village and destroy them before we stage our assault. As the two ritual draws to a close, we cast our final spells and surround the ritual area to protect Dramus and Teeanna within the pentacle.
It was a little surprising to have the howl of displacing air and moans of the Undead to be coming from behind us, inside the "protective" circle that those two were supposed to be sheltering in, but we took it all in our stride. The Undead were merely 3 Skeletons and 4 Zombies, and they disintegrated and a volley of blows and spell. I was very pleased to be able to rake three of them with a Lightning Bolt and have the end one explode. Despite the unanticipated problem, it had worked very well and as we were set up a good travelling distance from the village, we proceeded to try another round.
The Burning Dead
The second attempt "works" as planned, but the enemy have had two hours to prepare a nasty surprise. The Undead each arrive outside the pentacle, but appear in a gout of flame and a splash of putrescent, flaming ooze. I'm splashed by one that lands nearby, and the sticky mess scalds both my skin and something in the foul, dark flames attacks my mind. Holding in the panic, I slashed at the creature as it rose and though the hit was solid, the flames attacked my strength and left me feeling weakened. TDP was beside me in an instant and striking at foe, and he seemed to be having better luck resisting the flames malignant effects. The others are dealing to the rest of them and I was abandoning physically striking it in favour of a Lightning bolt when TDP struck it down. The rest were then roasted by Mortimer's Hellfire, but not injuring a few of us and draining Tari's Wyvern as well.
At least, I think that's how it went. I was considerably shaken by the ordeal, and had to compose myself for a while. The curse carried by the flames is going to be with me for at least two weeks if nothing is done, and our opponents are clearly on to what we are attempting to do. Dramus asserts that we need to consult the Witches of Oz for protections before going near a lake of the ooze, and we send the Elementals in to try and crush as many Undead as possible before we leave the area. TDP and Dramus scout the village on the way back, and this time the roster of the inhabitants is a little more clear.
- 3x Skeletons
- 3x Zombies
- 2x Greater Zombies (Griffins?)
- 4x Wights
- 1x Greater Spectre
- 1x Wight Knight
- 1x Wraith Lord
They leave the locale swiftly to bring us this rather daunting list. Through a Crystal TDP sees the Elementals arrive at the village, and start attacking the lesser Undead who have been placed in barrels full of the ooze and are constantly "basting" themselves to ensure that if we try summoning them again, we get plenty of ooze too. The Elementals start smashing barrels and their occupants, but the cowled figure that attending them advances and, as the original Elemental we saw emerges from the ground and drags down Kern's larger Elemental, it strikes Tari's smaller Elemental and it crumbles into dust.
We return to Oz and make our way to the southern quadrant. We quickly happen upon Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. There are some pleasantries, but I found it hard to pay attention to them. Glinda expressed a profound regret at not having experience with the Undead, but was coaxed into lending her expertise with protections and curses. She drew the willpower and strength sapping curses inflicted by the death-ooze into small crystals, isolating them from me until they could be lifted or expire normally. I will have to hang onto them, but I was able to start to pull myself together She also helped us by providing us with seven little boxes capable of drawing a curse from an individual into themselves before once apiece. During the discussion, the names of Carzon and Gayalette are bandied about.
Apparently, after given the hornets nest a jolly good stir, we'll spend a time taking tea with local Oz notables. I'm sure Mr Spectre will not have come up with any more nasty surprises by the time that's through.
Here began the tiki tour of the witches. First up is X the witch of the South. Who mentions that once in her territory (and similarly in the North) saying her name alerts her to our presence ans she comes to meet us. She give us a kiss on the cheek blessing which will absorb the next 5 curses cast on us.
Then the X the WWOE, an expert of alchemy, where we had tea and scones. Dramus & Mortimer presented her with a sample of the gloop from the 'lakel the undead had been spraying around. She dips one finger into it and then tastes it, saying its not something she's come across before. She agrees to make us something to help combat the undead and we agree to come back later that afternoon to do so.
Mortimer wants to visit Lord Carzon, but Dramus doesn't want to interrupt the man, and says we wait until we have actually achieved something and have something worthwhile to report.
So we head North to visit X, the witch of Life & earth stuff. We are flying in, and a flock of birds surround us, so we land and then are transported underground to a huge cave filled with glow worms - the land of the Illums. We chat, and she prepares us some tea that prevents damage from earth. Also an ablative protection against damage from undead.
Samples of the undead gloop and the bloody water from 'Seagate' are presented to her. She abhors the undead gloop, stating it is the antithesis of her and all she stands for. Tari muses on what could create something like this - perhaps it realtes to the Oz inversion she expereinced a few years back, where good turn to evil etc. X does eggs us onto trying the truth pond water on the gloop, and it all turns to normal water. This led TDP onto discussing with her where clouds get the rain from, and her suggesting she ask the clouds to help her by helping us. Apparently the clouds spend all day chatting amongst themselves and gathering up water from the land, then during the night they rain. When clouds start to argue amongst themselves storms happen. If the clouds could be persuaded to only gather water from the truth pond, then TDP could get them raining truthwater - as long it is on OZ, and Dramus' tower is still part Oz. She transports us as leaves to spend the night at Loonville, Dramus' tower point next to the Termites, and arranges to meet us in the morning. Clarissa sends a message to WOE apologising for our delay in return.
We meet 20 clouds, and everyone but the pair of Fae can communicate with them with their magic. TDP takes charge of them, explaing the mission. They are very fired up, and have disputes as to which ten shall be the ones to go. The clouds tend toward bickering very easily which potentially leads to storms; care is need to keep them focussed. They demonstrate that 10 clouds can merge together to become one storm. We tell them to hold off until we get to the undead tower area. Mortimer zips back to WWOE and returns with a basket half filled with scones, and 5 green tipped stick and 5 red tipped stick each. which does something or rather I can't recall anymore....
Having planted the three Earth Elemental's nearby, we swoop on the undead health spa, Mortimer knocking bits off the Tower with Earth Tremors and TDP sluicing the village and the lake with a Rain Storm drawn from the Truth pond. The Truth water doesn't seem to affect the village or those leaving the Tower, but the Lake starts to boil and steam impressively.
We land around the local Earth Elemental while our own three start to advance from the tree-line. We hammer it and it mimes punching us as slowly as it can, before being banished by TDPs specialised weapons. From there we move towards the figures drifting from the tower, but our view is soon obscured by a think mist of Noxious Vapours. We advance, shoulder to shoulder, while our Vapour Breathing spells allow us to retain our composure and focus. Lightning and Phantasms leap forth to the obscured targets, and Agony, both undead focused and regular, wash across the field of battle.
Kern spies a ring of Runes between us and the misty figures, and a second Lightning Bolt splashes up the side of an invisible dome following the curve of the ring. Some experimentation proves that they have Forbidden magic from entering the ring. Between that, the low visibility, and the Agony the fight is quite a slog. Blackfire, Hellfire, and Spectral Warriors all make an appearance multiple times. Here are some glimpses I saw in the confusion;
- Mortimer stayed aloft, directing us through the mist and raking the undead with Hellfire.
- TDP traded blows with a burly undead Wraith Lord, dual-wielding and throwing scimitars, before crippling his arm and sending him fleeing into the Tower. There he regenerates his arm from a barrel of ooze, but is felled by Kern and Teeanna.
- Kern battles the Wight Knight, along with random Wraiths, and soaks up more undeath draining than the rest of the party combined, before charging into the Tower after the Wraith Lord, after the Wight Knight flees by sinking into the ground. He is hotly pursued by the largest Earth Elemental, who makes a path for TDP into the chambers below the Tower, but he joins with this master.
- Teeanna weaves through a protective screen of Hands of Earth, casting Phantasms all the while, flanks a Wraith for quick backstab, before she charges into the Tower immediately after Kern. Very courageous efforts.
- Dramus keeps pouring Endurance Damage onto the major opponents via his Battle Leaven and exchanges the odd Spectral Warrior with the Greater Spectre.
- Tari and I hold the Wraiths at the middle of the line, largely struggling to connect with the little beggars slowed down as we are by the Agony. This at least keeps them occupied while Mortimer mops them up.
At the end, the Wight Knight and Greater Spectre merge with ground and flee, but the rest have fallen and we find the following things lying around.
- A pair of twinned, returning Scimitars.
- A amulet that provides ablative damage protection.
- A crystal of duplication that provides multiple effect in place of double and triples.
- A whip of celestial darkness that wraps targets in a web.
- 6 Un-restoratives. Probably not good for you.
Checking out the dungeon we find a sick and malnourished elf, resembling the famous Feyan, unconscious and shackled in manacles of darkness. Mortimer ramps up his light spell and the manacles shatter and the healers descend on him. While he's declared safe to be transported, we investigate the doorway in the Tower, which leads to an unremarkable spot in some woods. It quickly transpires that it's on "actual-Alusia" and a spot near Dramus cottage south of the Sweet Riding, explaining how they got in the first time.
We dig out the luggage with the Earth Elementals and ponder our next move. The usual disagreement between whether we should immediately chase the foe down or genocidally rain on the Arachnid Adventurer's parade while we still have clouds bulging to do it is put to bed by locates telling us that the fleeing Undead have gone though the portal. We figure from the direction that they are heading to the portal from the "Haven-esque" room, so they must have been travelling at a great speed.
We fly north and when we get to the "guild", both it and the attendant village have vanished, so we have to clean up the "Bloodwater" a little before before releasing the clouds on the other side of the faux-Seagate door into Loonvile. While we are there briefly, Mortimer spots what looks remarkably like a votive offering to a skinny, elven figure comprised of flies, bugs, and lizards. Dramus somehow fails to notice this development.
Back at the Guild, Feyan is declared to be need of nourishment and rest and that we shouldn't bother him for a bit, so Mortimer invites us to lunch at his Brastor homestead. His wife, Petal, declares that we are also in need of nourishment and nigh attempts to kill us with food and hospitality. I also remember a few mad conversations about how the crops of steam engines are coming along and pressing Cuckoos for oil, but that may have been a pastry-induced hallucination.
After we return to the Guild, Feyan is able to answer a few questions and says that he was innocently picking innocent herbs, saw a tiny out-of-the-way cottage, and decided to check it out. Beyond that he was mind controlled, drained, and tortured for three weeks, so he isn't able to give us much about the plans the Undead have. Dramus stars putting the hours to wrest control of the "Frontiers" room back, over the course of two nights closes the door between the room and Alusia and them shrinks it down until it's two exits of the "Haven-esque" room; the portal entrance from under the Arachnid Guild and the door South of the ruby waters, are the pinched waist of an hourglass directly facing each other. This should mean that if they decide to leave via one they will simply loop out the other and should slow down any counter-invasion.
After a night's rest, we prepare to tackle the desolate looking city via the door in the cliff face. We enter the antechamber that used to the "Frontiers" room and is now just 40' across, but it's clear the Undead have been busy. Telepathy, Empathy and Wizard's Eye are able to percolate through the door, and show us that they have surrounded the door in a sort of reverse fortification and we face the following.
- 4 Ghasts
- 4 Wights
- 3 Unfamiliar things, clinging to the cliff face.
- 2 Werewolf resembling things,
- 1 Ominous blue glow.
Given that everyone else resists one spell and then I resist a control person, all bets are on the glow being a Vampire or worse. Mortimer hands me a Mind cloak potion to save me from assaulting fellow party members and we ready to roll through the door and drop the fortifications with Tunnelings when most of us are slammed into the far wall by a TK Rage.
Definitely a Vampire.
The little fort is really a bird cage to stop us flying through easily and a raised ledge for the Undead to attack us from. Some spells like TDP's Sleep and Slow, and Teanna's Phantasms are able to leak between "room" though the aperture of the door the but we are going to have to rush them at some point, and they are waiting for it. A stone wall go up closer to the door, thanks to Kern and Tari, to hold us up against further TK Rages. I stand immediately behind the door, hoping to blunt any counter-rushes before we are set up.
Outside, there has been a strange development. The Wight and Ghasts have been badly affected by Undead Agony, Phantasm and hails of E&E spells, but one splits/explodes and a dashing figure, later identified as the "Dark Knight", appears. He is on Telepathy initially, and seems slightly surprised, as if he was summoned unexpectedly, but composed. He immediately starts making a nuisance of himself by reaching into the Undead and removing the spell effects that have placed on them. He also seem to be able to deflect spells onto nearby minions, which is extremely aggravating.
More spells are exchanged for a time, but when I get zapped thought he with a Disruption the nescessity to keep the upper hand is underlined. The line of sight and the ground on other side of the door has been badly constrained with Stone and Force(?) Walls, those have been undercut with Tunnelings, and Mortimer has been angling Earth Tremors through the other side, so an immediate rush seems unwise. Kern tries his luck and falls at the first hurdle.
A moment later, he is set upon by horrific skin creatures who try and envelop him. I lean far enough out the door to grab his foot and haul him back in, along with his new friends, which are trying to crawl under his skin. They are completely resistant to unarmed attacks, so I tear one off and dowse me and it in Greek Fire. Tari cleaves the other as it is held up for her, and Teanna unleashes a frightening Gargoyle to leap through the open door and join the fray.
The "Flensling" skin creatures keep a couple of us occupied for a time, my "curse charm" boxes soaking up several nasty somethings as I put mine down. Teeana Phantasms the third one as Dramus heals Kern. We then seize the initiative back when Mortimer Fire Arcs himself, Dramus, TDP, and Kern up to the left ledge and Kern and TDP hose down the majority of the creatures with Dragonflames investeds. At that time the weakened and trembling structure starts to peel away from the cliff.
The Dark Knight and the Vampire Lord fly off in separate directions, the latter pursued by Mortimer, bearing Dramus along. Tripled Hellfire blows and Dramus' Battle Leaven cause the Vampire Lord some suffering, the Dark Knight swaps places with him. Determine to stop the foe that can't bleed damage off to random passers-by, they double back to the Vampire Lords new flight path and continue the attack as he draws closer to the haunted, boarded-up city and escape. This happened two more times, but finally the Vampire exploded in an unsavoury cloud. The Dark Knight simply salutes and flies off and Mortimer and Dramus return, fatigued and triumphant, to the party.
We've been quickly checking the pile of rubble that remains of the fort/birdcage at the bottom of the cliff, but the rising tumult from the haunted city convinces Dramus to retreat to the safety of the tower, seal the door to this room together, and consider further schemes.