After watching the last of the writhing Sha Huat Shamans crumble to lifeless dust, Nightfall and his friends cowered in the roots of the great stone vine trying to come to an understanding of the events they had just witnessed. After a short while, Amaras took up his staff and prodded the party to action. Tenuously the intrepid adventurers crossed the unnamed chasm astride the twisted tendril of stone, trying not to notice the fathomless maw beneath their stride.
Aside from the fact that the landscape was askew, and the fact that each building was petrified and filled with stone, the inner city was remarkably well preserved. Shops, streets, barrels, streetlamps all stood as if they had ben in use no more than an hour ago. Along the rim, several streets vectored in to the heart of the city. Not seeing one better than the other, the party selected one and inched forward. At the first intersection, Amras spotted an odd bird hopping along the ledge of a building. Something was off about it… it’s eyes were fixed on them, its movements smooth and, to his druidic eyes… very un-birdlike.
Keeping a wary eye on the dark offending foul, they pushed onward, crossing one street and another… the bird walking steadily on the rooftops above them, never breaking eye contact. At a large shadowy intersection of streets, something appeared to startle the bird for it hopped off of its perch and glided toward the party. No sooner than it had it left its ledge it began shedding droves of black feathers, growing steadily in size. Its wings, now pink and fleshy having only patches of scraggily black feathers left spread 10 feet across and it’s features distorted, eyes gaining a human quality but still tapering into a cruel hooked beak. Whizzing over Amras and Derdrik, the wicked looking creature drove dagger like talons into Kell’s shoulders and with a powerful gust of it’s wings… it lifted itself aloft and over the adjacent building, dragging the struggling sorcerer with it into the sky.
Confused and alarmed, Derderik and Amras looked at each other wondering what to do. It was then that the keen eyed druid spotted two pairs of bright yellow eyes in a dark corner. Moving silent as a shadow, Two wolves slid from the recess, splitting around the party. A short, grey skinned dwarf followed. He was broad shouldered, but shorter than derdrik. He wore a heavy burlap cloak of good quality though worn and carefully patched in a few places. His coat was grey and much the match for the cloak. Leather straps with a dozen pouches crossed his chest. He had a thick leather belt, from which hung a well cared for mace. Hawklike beady eyes stared out at the two travelers from behind a loaded and aimed heavy crossbow.
“Hello again” Amras started, recognizing this as the merchant they had encountered before. Hesitantly the Dwarf responded. As they spoke, Derdrik began to worry noticing that they were now surrounded and outnumbered by this dangerous looking dwarf. They explained to the merchant about the bird and he informed them that he had seen such creatures before in the service to powerful wizards. Now growing to believe the party could be of some value, the merchant explained that he was on a quest to retrieve an extremely valuable artifact and he could use some assistance in retrieving it. In Exchange, he would see Derdrik and Amras re-united with Kell. He then introduced himself as Jotondor Wormstag, originally of the Irontongue. The bargin struck, he spoke to the wolves and they whisked away in the direction that the bird creature had flown.
Weaving from one side street to the next, Wormstag lead the Adventurers through the maze of the city. Just when Derdrik and amras were certain that the dwarf was mad, lost or both, the street opened to a wide courtyard around a square keep. Jotondor cautioned the party to be careful, and informed them that his treasure lay inside the great structure. Amras taking point, the group inched along the buildings to get a look at the far side of the keep. A pair of shambling skeletons emerged from around the corner. Jotondor relaxed and strode towards the wizened forms assuring Amras ant Derdrik to stay back. Raising his mace above his head, he boomed out the command “Evil Begone!”. Concentric waves of glowing white energy exploded from the head of the mace, instantly turning the skeletons to dust. Jotondor smiled at Amras, slung is mace back on his belt and slid the crossbow back into his hands.
The entrances to the keep were inset and facing each other, Great stone pillars supported the heavy cantilevered roof, each carved with a unique leaf pattern. The group spent some time investigating the doors, but upon seeing another skeleton emerge from the City, Derdrik leaned back and with a grunt kicked the door in sending shards of ancient wood spewing across the dark dusty chamber. The party cautiously entered the ancient room. Long wooden tables untouched by time stretched down a long room. A master’s writing desk and fireplace along one wall. Fruit stood atop the tables in simple wooden bowls. On the writing desk Amaras found a worn leather journal which revealed the massive structure to be the Tower of the Earth Magus Roarax. The journal also mentioned that there was a guest in the tower, trapped. Jotondor found it odd that there is only one floor in this “tower” but leaves the question to the ages and the party continued on to the Fireplace.
The fireplace is a strange structure. The Mantle, made of stone, is formed around a bronze box, built to slide in and out like a drawer. Above the box sits a bronze sphere with oddly shaped ports. For several minutes the party studied the strange construct but the search was cut short when Amras announced that he had found eight flasks… Four clear and sweet smelling, two swirling light blue, and two gritty silver potions. Derdrick picked up one of each of the colored ones, and Jotendor picked up the others. Having some idea that the fireplace was some sort of mechanism, they decided to go get more information about it.
The far end of the room had two doors. A massive stone door carved in an unorganized mass of vines, and a small wooden door at the end of the hall. Once again the barbarian kicked in the door. It revealed a small but neat bedchamber. A writing desk, bed and small wardrobe furnished the humble room and there was another wooden doorway on the adjacent wall. Finding nothing of interest in the bedroom they opened the next door and found a small privy and kitchen. Jotendor immediately started digging in the dirt beneath the privy and found 30 silver pieces that had been lost ages past. The rest of the chamber was a servants kitchen. Pots, shelves and a small well across from a crude table and a single wooden door leading on.
Entering the final door, the party discovered a library. Ancient tomes on magicks and artifices lined the walls. Jotendor smiled to himself thinking that it was a pity that the sorcerer was not here to see it. The library ended in another door that (as it turns out) lead back outside to the great stone column, opposite the door they had entered. The only area unexplored was the great stone door and Jotendoor insisted upon finding his treasure, so back they went. Seeing no lever to open the great door, Amras simply turned it to clay and the others bashed it in with a table. The opening revealed a mystical grove of ancient and sacred trees. Amras stepped onto the lush carpet of moss and grass and was immediately ensnared. A magical arrow from nowhere streaked out and hit him, but before the others could manage to pull him back to the safety of the hallway, he noticed a staircase on the opposite wall leading to an open walkway around the top of the tower. Jotendor on the other hand had his eyes fixed on the great tree in the corner of the grove, supposing that that is where his treasure would lie.
Supposing the walkway extended the entire way around (even atop their very heads) the party decided to find a way up to the walkway and supposed that the mechanism in the fireplace might just provide a way. So…. Filling the drawer with water from the well and lighting the fire, they watched and waited. Steam began to rise from the vents in the large brass sphere. It began to twist, malevolently reflecting the licking flames beneath it. Faster and faster it spun… the steam screamed from the sphere. A clunk and ticking sound indicated that a mechanism behind the wall was at work. To the dismay of the party, the great stone door (or at least what was left of it slid up and out of sight. Alas, it was not a method for getting to the roof, but a simple door mechanism.
Unwilling to venture back out to the grove, Amras hit the ceiling with a spell and it glopped to the ground as large chunks of putty. Jotendor helped Derdrik stack tables and the party climbed out of the Halway and atop the walk surrounding the grove. The sacred trees of the grove reached far above their heads even standing on the walkway; the great tree on the far side being the tallest of all. Even at this height the magic and serenity of the place washed over the party. They began to walk around to the great tree.
Standing tall and proud the great tree of the grove stood as a testament to the ancient ages it had seen pass. Nestled in its roots sat a small wooden box, the object of Jotendors quest. Haltingly, the party approached the stairway, only to be greeted with a hail of arrows. They managed to take shelter behind the walkway wall and discussed their options. Amras coming up with the clever idea to rush in using his ability to scale walls and sieze the box before anyone could do anything about it. Derdrik and Jotendor agreed to cover him with bow and crossbow.
Arrows pinged around Amras as he scurried across the wall. The others having great trouble finding the source. Amras was hit… the great tree twisted around thrashing at him, a root snared his foot just as he took an arrow in the shoulder. But against all odds, Amras reached out and seized upon the box. Ripping free of the roots, the half elf pulled himself up the wall and back to his friends still pinned down by the arrows. Fortunately Amras’ keen eyes quickly identified the assailant and he pointed. “Dryad” shouted Jotendor, but before he could explain the danger. Derdrik’s eyes glazed over. The dwarf slowly seized his great hammer “Greyheart” sliding it from its fastings ring by ring, stiffly twisted his head and staring like a zombie at Jotendor grinned.
“Ill Handle Him, You handle the Dryad” shouted Jotendor, dropping the large mace from his belt into his hand. And with that Derdrik bowled into him swinging wildly, his mouth dripping with foam. Amaras danced along the wall throwing jets of flame and lobbing great balls of fire at the dryad. Jotendor at mortal odds with the enraged dwarven barbarian (and at this point truly regretting choosing to fight the dwarf over the dryad) Began to fatigue… the repeated blows from the massive hammer taking their toll. In desperation he called out to Amras saying “blow a hole in the floor or we will both die!” . With that the Druid began to gesture, mumble and the whole floor caved away, dropping them firmly in the library. Now that he had some breathing room, Jotendor arched back and summoned a black cloud that terrified Derdrik, causing him to flee. Amras touched Jotendor and healed him, but the respite was short lived. The enraged dryad leapt upon them casting magic and stabbing with arrows driving them out of the library and into the street.
At long last Amras slew the dryad. The spell over Derdrik was lifted and the party re-united… much the worse for wear, but holding the magical box. Since their wounds were grave, Amras suggested that they barricade themselves in the kitchen and rest, which is exactly what they did.