It has been a while since the last update – here’s a recap of the session prior.
We left off previously with a tantalizing message from one Iskander relayed (with bitter sweet pain) through a succubus to Raynard. If only all messengers could be succubi. Iskander claimed to possess the blue dragon mask, and was willing betray the Dragon Cult and offer it to whomever might rescue him from Xonthal’s Tower, a hundred or more miles to the east on the slopes of Mount Hilm.
As we gathered once again and arrayed ourselves at nerd central, we sat and prepared our tools upon the great table. Papers, books, dice. I had my fill of chips and a requisite light beer before Brokk arrived with Pizza. Soon, all had fed. We settled about our business.
After some brief consultations with Brother Micram of the Arcane Brotherhood, Taern Hornblade, High Mage of Silvery Moon, and King Melandrach, all were reminded or informed that Xonthal’s Tower is legendary among the wizards and tale-spinners of Faertin for its unusual magical defenses, including a magical hedge maze that surrounds it. Beginning as a lowly adventurer, Xonthal traveled across Faerun and beyond, reaching distant Zakhara, Kara-Tur, and even Maztica. His work focused on conjuration and elemental evocation, so he often kept elementals and genies for company. Xonthal prized solitude, so he designed his tower and its surrounding hedge maze to deter intruders and unwanted visitors. Over a century ago, the wizard kicked his apprentices out and sealed the tower. No one knows what Xonthal has been up to in the intervening decades, or whether he’s even still alive. Some think he must have become a lich, while others believe he’s just dead. All that’s certain is that the hedge maze remains a frustrating barrier, and the spells and wards protecting the tower against entry remain as powerful as ever.
Travel was once again expedited via the Mirror of Life Trapping and Terredon, our elven druid, in flight form. Soon our group was gathering outside the village of Xonthal’s Tower, and within sight of the great tower itself and its surrounding hedge maze. Some discussions with the locals, including pleasant drinks with the mayor on a balcony overlooking the hedge maze, revealed them to be wary of strangers who ask too many questions about the tower. Things were quiet there for a long time, but for almost a year now, the villagers have seen lights through the windows at night and heard unearthly sounds. A few claim to have seen a blue dragon lingering in the sky high above. Some villagers scoffed at that idea, but everyone agreed that the tower has been reoccupied. The only questions remaining dealt with who or what is now living in the tower.
The most popular theories are that Xonthal has returned or has awakened as a lich, or that one of the genies and elementals he once imprisoned finally broke free of its restraints but remains trapped inside the tower. The mayor warned you about the dangers of entering the maze. Few who enter it ever come back out, and those who return are always much worse for wear. Even animals and birds avoid the maze.
Not to be dissuaded, you downed the last of your beers, tightened your belts and set to enter the maze over the simple fence the locals have built to keep drunks, kids, and livestock from wandering within. Suddenly, as you stepped onto the garden path, you noticed movement high up on the tower. A human male dressed in purple and black robes stood on the balcony, waving something over his head. It was hard to make out details from this distance, but it appeared to be a blue mask.
“Heroes,” the figure screamed, “they saw you in the village! I’ve taken the mask, but they’ll realize it’s missing within minutes! Look for me beneath the tower, for it’s the only place I have a chance to hide. This is the key that will let you teleport into the dungeon.” As he spoke, the figure held aloft a second item— some sort of white, glimmering hourglass. “ I will leave it behind after I use it, but others may find it before you do.”
The speaker looked over his shoulder as another figure suddenly dashed out onto the balcony. A flash of blades and spell-fire erupted. Then the figure who spoke pitched his attacker over the railing before dashing back inside.
Having seen the mask (THE Blue Dragon Mask!) you all leapt over the fence and down the simple path toward a large sundial where eight paths converged. It quickly became obvious that the shadow cast by the sundial did not relate to the actual angle of the sun. This was only the first of many oddities our group of intrepid adventurers would encounter within the defenses of Xonthal’s tower as well as many perilous challenges of the maze.
The challenges included an opening within the maze containing a large deep pool – where our heroes were attacked by several fearsome giant arthropods – the dreaded Chuul! There was a great pasture inhabited by two giant cyclopes where our heroes had to best the creatures in a great throwing contest. An ornate temple like structure and a deceptive tea ceremony turned into a violent confrontation with some form of smoking elemental of fire and earth. Another clearing contained six suits of plate mail as well as many battered bits of weapons and armor littering the ground. As our heroes crossed the clearing, they were forced to battle for their lives. Each time one suit of armor was defeated, two more would replace it! Slowly our heroes grew weary and increasingly bruised and beaten.
Finally, dragging in spirit and exhausted in effort, our heroes successfully navigated the last riddle of the sundial and found themselves standing before the great tower. At its foot, a teleportation circle was clearly marked on the aged flagstones. Nearby, the body of a dead, crumpled cultist lay sprawled on the ground (the one Iskander threw off the balcony earlier). Behind our heroes, the path lead straight to the sundial intersection and another path leads a few yards further and beyond the sundial, ending at the exit to the village.
Seconds later, our heroes strode into the teleportation circle and were instantly swept into the great tower – wherever that might actually be.
The first chamber bore exotic geometric designs representing feathers, eagles, and snakes, all rendered in a style you had never seen before. To one side of the room, a human female was sprawled face down in a pool of blood. She was dressed like a high-ranking member of the Cult of the Dragon.
A medical check revealed that the cultist had been slain by a dragontooth dagger – similar to the ones some other high ranking cultists have been known to carry. The decorations of the room, perhaps they are in the Maztican style of architecture? Also of interest, a pair of balconies and a teleportation circle for travel within the tower! On the wall behind the teleportation circle is a metal panel inscribed with the following symbols: Chair, Two Chairs, Upside-down “L”, Rectangle, Flame, Star, Square, Hourglass, and Right Triangle.
Our group of brave brilliant adventurers tried the Hourglass – following Iskander’s instructions – or sort of. Nothing. Next: Square.
Suddenly our heroes were transported to what once may have been a chamber of luxury – but has since been subjected to the ravages of time. A table assembled from planks laid across barrels is covered in notes and scrolls, all pertaining to all matters related to dracoliches – their history, creation, anatomy, strengths, abilities, etc… A large ancient bed lay mouldering against the wall. This was obviously some sort of office or retreat for senior cultists, perhaps Iskander? Perhaps?
Back to the teleporter and this time, Star!
Instantly, our heroes stood in a chamber which was clearly a wizard’s workplace. A pair of voluminous tomes on astronomy and astrology lay open on the table. A massive telescope of brass, crystal, and polished mahogany rested on an intricate stand in the middle of the chamber. A ladder rested against one wall, and an immense crystal lens is embedded in the ceiling. From a small adjacent room or balcony, through a partly open door – voices!
Our heroes leapt to the attack! Valeria strode and stood in the doorway, and all manners of violence were flung through the door and past Valeriya upon its inhabitants. Insect Plague and fiery bolts lashed out. Valeriya and Brock took a few blows, and a fiery spell or two came from within – but soon, all were silenced and lay smoldering amid the chittering and crawling plague of insects.
One of the dead, the mage, wore an ornate platinum and crystal hourglass shaped key on a thong around his neck! This must be the key that operates the teleporter which Iskander was referring to! He must not be far away and with him, the Blue Dragon Mask!
We debated leaping for the teleportation circle and pressing the Hourglass. It grew late. All were tired.
Will you locate Iskander? Is he truly “beneath” Xonthal’s Tower? Will you obtain The Blue Dragon Mask of the Helm of Tiamat? What perils await you?
Soon, we return.