The Fairy Ring in the Nentir Vale

Gargoyles, and Frankie, and Warped Magic -- oh my!

In the Tower of the Archmage, Valdemar

Rules Clarification

I looked this up after Fosden did his Invocation of the Sun while locked in combat with Frankie.

Casting a spell (that’s not a ‘Close-quarters’ one) incurs Attacks of Opportunity from engaged opponents. But those are reactions, not interrupts, and being hit does not prevent you casting your spell.
But I AM going to house rule that if they knock you out, you have to make a normal save (11+, i.e. 50/50) to get the spell off before you go down.

Goals:

The Deck of Many Things, book 2 p. 5

Wjizzo’s ancient ivory card named “Ruin” comes from a larger deck. There’s certainly a strange power in the card, and the magic of the Deck is surely greater than the magic of the individual cards.

Priest of the Eye, book 2 p. 6

Quoth Grundelmar in Fallcrest to Fosden: “Years ago, adventurers destroyed a cult of the Elder Elemental Eye but the leader, Vadin Cartwright, escaped. Well, the Sun Lord has spoken in my dreams to let me know that Cartwright is still a danger. He is dabbling with forces beyond mortal understanding that could be disastrous, and must be sought among the dead in old Gardmore Abbey.”
Quoth Pelor Sun-father: “The Temple is too high above you few.”

Peace with the Fey, book 2 p. 9

Lord Padraig of Winterhaven said: “Thanks for scouting the Abbey. Here’s 600 gp.
“The fey you describe living in these woods might be useful allies against the orcs and the best way to stop the raids. Find their leader and make peace with them, securing their cooperation.”
He had his scrivener draw up a document recognising Velfarren’s claim to the Feygrove, to be given to the Elf-knight if his claim is proven.

Establish a Claim, book 2 p. 13

The High Elf knight, Sir Berrian Velfarren, said: “My father had a hand in the establishment of this grove, and your Lord Padraig will recognise our rightful claim here if the proof of it can be demonstrated.”

Tower of the Archmage, book 2 p. 5

Valthrun the lorekeeper told you there is a tower in the village below the abbey, which he believes to be the location of The Winterbole Codex, a tome bound in white dragon scales, which he would very much like to get to read.

‘Icon Relationship’ Benefits pending

Cram and Fosden: Relationships to re-roll.
It would be great if we could give Cram a benefit from The Winterbole Codex
Wjizzo, Something enigmatic in the Feywild: A clear benefit
Eric Bloodhammer, Conflicted of Bahamut: A clear benefit and a benefit with complications.

Original Ringers: Cram and Wjizzo, roll immediately on your Relationship with Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead, for what impact it might have in this encounter with Valdemar.

Into the Tower

Taking great care to target the dragonman-shaped gargoyles and not Eric, Cram or Fosden, Wjizzo essayed a new spell for the first time, extending his index and little fingers and punched the air. Twin waves of force smacked out, one striking dust from the tower wall just where the airborne gargoyle had been, and the other pounding into the one on the ground with a grate of straining stone and driving it back against Cram’s boots.
escalation_1.jpg Eric Bloodhammer put his whole weight behind a downward blow and, with the battle just starting to turn in their favour, his pickaxe-like weapon struck the grounded gargoyle in the pinion, making a fault line and shearing the whole wing off the monster. Cracks spread outwards with a loud splintering noise, and a moment later the gargoyle literally fell apart into dozen chunks of rubble.

The gargoyles’ preternatural senses having detected only a single prey, they had been alarmed to find no fewer than three opponents before them when they sprang round the corner, and now one of them had been destroyed. The survivor threw caution to the wind and span away, taking a solid blow from Eric on its trailing leg rather than give battle to them all. It folded its wings and banked to fly in through the doorway of the tower with familiar ease, Cram in hot pursuit but unable to match its winged speed. The gargoyle touched down behind a great fallen obelisk in the middle of the tower’s ground floor room, turning and poised to spring away again, but Cram drew up short.

The chill interior of the tower coursed with unfettered magic, flickers of fire and sparking power glimmering over the floor, the air alive with the reek of acid and the sense of a storm about to break. At the centre was a large fallen obelisk of stone, with a large recumbent form lying upon it, draped in a huge shroud.

Fosden twisted in through the doorway and shot his crossbow, forcing the gargoyle to duck. And when his bolt thudded into the bookcase beyond, the shrouded creature sat up and with one huge arm literally swatted Cram to the ground. As the sheet fell away, a scroll that had lain upon its breast falling to the floor, the group beheld a monstrous creation of flesh easily a head and a half taller than Cram, clad only in a thin shift, and with the incongruously small head of a once-beautiful woman stitched onto the shoulders of its patchwork muscular body.
“That scroll could be the means of controlling it!” cried Wjizzo as he joined the others in the doorway, and a beckoning gesture brought the scroll flying into his hand. Hastily unrolling it and glancing over its contents, he frowned. No, this is something else, some rite of cancellation too long to be relevant here."
escalation_2.jpg“Never mind, then,” boomed Eric right in his ear. He shouldered through between Wjizzo and Fosden and stood over Cram. He held his great shield upraised and put his left foot back to brace for impact… and from the spot where his foot touched erupted a spout of lurid green acid that splashed over him, eliciting hissing sizzles from the steel of his armour and a grievous cry from Eric himself as several splashes burned into his skin. But here in Gardmore Abbey, he remembered the vision he had had from the goddess Ioun, of the steadfast endurance of the Paladins of Bahamut, and he resolved not to succumb.
Slinging his crossbow on its lanyard back over his shoulder, Fosden cried, “Back, foul creation!” and brandished his medallion of Pelor in his gauntleted hand. Beams of light lanced forth, but more shot past the monster than struck it, and those that did seemed to do it little harm. But those that fell upon Cram wrapped him in a glow of protection.
As the gargoyle hopped around the obelisk and up onto a desk-cum-workbench, Cram surged to his feet, giving no thought to his own defence as he hacked out in a great swinging arc. A shallow score across the chest of the woman-headed monstrosity seemed to give it — or her? — little pause, but the swing followed on to land in the ribs of the gargoyle, knocking it from its perch on the workbench to stagger against the wall.
And then, her face still slackly expressionless, the flesh golem lurched up off the obelisk and stormed right into Eric and Cram. Eric gave ground and leaned back to avoid a flailing arm, but Cram was still off-balance and took a huge knee right in the face that felled him on the spot. The thing now towered right in the midst of the three adventurers still standing.
The warped magic erupted in a burst of thunder that shuddered a number of mouldering books and papers off the shelves in the far corner, and boomed around the whole chamber. “That’ll have woken some orcs up,” said Wjizzo dourly. “But for right now, Imbre Colorem! Despite being at close quarters with the construct-monstrosity that now loomed right over him, his own magic flashed out in a dizzying burst of coloured light around its head, making the thing give out an unnatural groan of angered pain.

escalation_3.jpgTactically, Eric Bloodhammer saw the need to finish the gargoyle, lest it fall upon the unconscious Cram. He stepped past the flesh golem’s back with his warhammer raised for a swing but just as he closed there was a detonation in the air around him as a second focus-point of the warped magic brought crushing pressures in upon him from all sides. The gargoyle laughed in Eric’s face as his hammer-blow fell harmlessly past it, but as it sprang into the air again he had the last laugh, his back-swing shattering away half of its tail before it could get away. The injured thing flapped off up to drop out of sight onto the staircase up the tower.

Fosden crouched away from the flailing arms of the flesh golem, sidling over to Cram and holding his golden gauntlet over his slumped form. A ray like shining sunlight illuminated the barbarian’s face, and Cram awoke muttering something about how it couldn’t be morning yet…
And gripping his spear in both hands, Fosden pushed upwards, stabbing the golem in the side.
YOU should definitely never have woken up!” yelled Cram, springing to his feet and dealing the flesh golem a mighty blow, and taking heart to see that the monster could be hurt by good cold steel.
The monster continued to lay about her. One fist hammered down on Wjizzo, powering through his desperate Shield spell with enough force to batter him to the ground, at the same time as the other delivered Cram a great open-handed slap sending him reeling backwards.
Like a force of chaos, magical fire suddenly blossomed in the air around Eric, frazzling his great red beard. And the flesh golem cringed away from it in obvious fear.
“It’s a pentacle!” exclaimed Wjizzo. “Those three points where the elemental magic has erupted are no mere triangle, but three points of a five-pointed circle! Keep your distance!” And then, “It’s just a pity I didn’t learn any fire spells today,” he muttered under his breath, using a cantrip instead to wrap the fallen shroud around the golem’s head and face.

escalation_4.jpgThe gargoyle driven off if not destroyed, Eric returned to the fray and planted his warhammer with a sickening crunch right in the spine of the golem. No response registered on the fine features of the dead woman’s face, the head looking round to regard Eric matter-of-factly, though the sudden awkwardness of the monster’s movements was more than compensated for by the increased ferocity with which it now laid about itself.
“Pelor, I invoke thy dominion of the Sun above!” cried Fosden, and he took a stance, presenting his medallion, sunlight suddenly streaming from his whole body. “Sorcerous creation, ye are judged, and found monstrous in the sight of the Sun Lord!” The golem swept an arm around that failed to land a blow upon Fosden, whose light seared into it, raising wisps of smoke where it struck.
Cram gave vent to his Rage and wailed upon the monster with his fullblade but for the moment seemed always a step behind its spinning moves, the great blade failing to strike with any weight. As the monster came about, leaving Fosden in its wake, it punched out left at Eric who just managed to fend off most of the shock with his shield, and right at Cram who was again driven bodily off his feet.
The warped magic in the chamber erupted yet again, this time in an ice-cold blast right at Eric’s back, that made the knight groan with the chill. And Imbre Colorem! incanted Wjizzo a second time, his pulsing globes of colour further assaulting the monster’s senses.
Eric’s next blow struck only feebly, escalation_5.jpg Fosden thrust his spear into the monster’s back, and Cram rebounded from his insulting slap-down with a blood-curdling scream of fury, hewing with such force that his sword cleft diagonally right through the monster’s chest. “That’s done it!” he crowed. The top half of its torso was sheared right off, and the unnatural life animating the golem’s members was suddenly extinguished. Stitches gave out, and the womans head rolled to Cram’s feet, looking up with sightless eyes but remarkably well-preserved.

Up to the Top Chamber

“Get away from the circle!” exhorted Wjizzo, as the same thing just began to dawn on everyone, even Eric. They backed away to the walls and then began to edge up onto the staircase climbing the tower, gathering their breath and steeling themselves for the next challenge.
Eric cautiously rounded the first corner. The direly wounded dragon-man gargoyle still cowered behind the parapet a few steps above, and now launched into the air. With furious beats of its wings it angled down and shot out of the tower before anyone could bring an attack to bear upon it.
The four carried on upwards as the stair spiralled tighter into the waist of the tower, Fosden coming up behind Eric’s shield, holding a torch aloft in his glittering gauntlet and his spear in the other, to probe each stone step before Eric’s feet.
“I’m just wary that where there are no guardians or protective magics, there might be nefarious traps of a simpler, mechanical nature,” he explained.
As they advanced upwards, and the chill of the tower grew ever more intense, Eric regaled everyone with the tale of one Roger who ceased to be known as ‘the dodger’ after losing a particularly unfortunate part of his anatomy in the jaws of a mechanical trap.
At length, Wjizzo looked up from perusing the golem’s scroll by a light conjured within his wizard’s orb. “This describes a way for a wizard to apply a ritual of Counter-magic to undo some spell of Abjuratio warding magic erected by whoever wrote the scroll. It appears the spell was performed to protect some paladins and a thing of great power in their keeping, amid the chaos of the Abbey’s last stand.”

“Here, do you think?” asked Eric, gesturing up the last flight of stairs to where they ended before an impressive pair of doors.
Wjizzo essayed the first clause, and discerned immediately that this wasn’t the place where the Abjuratio warding had been set.
Eric pressed an ear to the chill timbers of one door, hearing nothing, and pulling away before his ear might freeze in place. He tried the doors, and felt a resistance to his push.
With a “Stand back!” he took two paces and threw his shoulder into the door, which burst open with a splintering of the ice that coated their reverse. A freezing gust of air billowed over them, and Wjizzo shuddered at something else. He told the others that a spell had just been triggered, communicating down the centre of the stairwell, probably to the obelisk below. Peering over the parapet he neither saw nor sensed any cause for alarm. But Eric and Fosden were already into the room.

Meeting the Archmage

The top of what Valthrun had termed ‘The Tower of the Archmage’ was one great square chamber. The light from narrow slit windows high above their heads lanced down to sparkle upon the frost that coated every surface.
“Visitors, after all this time!” came a husky exclamation from a figure at the far side of the chamber. A stooping human form straightened and turned towards them in a crackle of frost that broke and re-froze at its every movement. Its withered face and the hands that cradled a staff topped with a globe of swirling white motes were a deathly pale blue, and its beard and Bahamut-emblazoned white robe bristled with tiny icicles. “Let us remember this moment for ever,” it spake.
Seeing the emblem of the Platinum Dragon, Eric took a step forward and bowed to one knee. “Bahamut be praised,” he said reverently. “Might a humble soldier enquire as to whom he has the honour to address?”
The others filed in behind him, peering cautiously around the eery chamber. Immediately before them reared a block of ice ten feet on a side, in which a huge ape-like demon was frozen in frenzied anger — a ‘Barlgura’ like the one the Fairy Ring had narrowly bested in the Thunderspire Labyrinth. Half a dozen other blocks imprisoned diverse beings at various points about the walls and long tables in the middle of the chamber held four further bodies, shrouded in thick layers of rime spiked into fronds of delicate frost-crystal, from which billows of freezing vapour streamed silently to the floor.
“I am Vandomar, master of this tower and keeper of all within it.” Fosden didn’t like the way the creature stressed the word “keeper”.
“O Vandomar, generator of great power,” continued Eric, his breath steaming in the frigid air, “what can you tell us of Gardrin the Hammer?” Wjizzo and Fosden exchanged quizzical glances, but held their tongues.
“Gardrin, you say?” rasped the icy mage. “Gardrin was the founder of Gardmore Abbey, long before I came here to study under Archmage Dasticus. My Elaida spoke of Gardrin as a saint of Bahamut, and boasted that he was interred in pride of place in the Catacombs of her Order, beneath the Temple upon the mount they call the Dragon’s Roost. I hope his mortal remains lie there undisturbed since when his Order gave him burial.” He spoke without any wisp of steam, his breath as warmthless as the air of the chamber.
“Let me introduce you to those I have kept here, friends and foes unspoilt by time,” he went on…
“Well that seems to have broken the ice,” murmured Cram, as the ice-mage warmed to his subject. The foes in two ice cubes were an orc general from the original siege of Gardmore Village and the barlgura demon that bounded down from the Dragon’s Roost plateau when something terrible happened up there that turned the siege into a mad slaughter. The friends in the other four ice cubes were two paladins and two of Vandomar’s apprentices, Talen and Rubor, all of whom he said he had saved, never to suffer a wrong death.
Fosden whispered to Wjizzo, “Preservation, that’s what he’s obsessed with.” And louder, to the frozen undead: “Is there any service we might perform for you? Do you go to the Font of Ioun?”
“Ioun… The Lady of Lore is patron of all that is known. I cannot partake of the waters, but I go there betimes to reflect upon the past, and how things were, before.”

“We came here in search of the ‘Winterbole Codex’,” said Fosden of the Cliffs,
“Well here it lies, indeed,” the figure replied,
He gestured with his left hand at an enormous book, cased in the scales of a white dragon, that lay beside the head of one of the bodies on the tables. “The Winterbole Codex of Dasticus.”*
“Do you have need of it? Might we be able to take it to Valthrun the sage in Winterhaven?”
“It is mine, and I will not part with it,” he replied matter-of-factly. “But you may read here what is written within. You have all the time in the world after all. But it may not leave this chamber. Nothing may leave this chamber, for all must be preserved exactly as it is, to capture the exquisite ephemerality. The first visitors to my chamber in a century and a half. Stay awhile… Stay for ever!”
At that there was a shifting of the light in the corner of the room. Dark shadows lay upon the floor in sharp contrast to the chamber’s white glitter, forming a grid shape, though there was nothing there to cast any such shadow. Wjizzo experienced a flicker of familiarity. But when he saw it, Vandomar recoiled. “No!” he shrieked. “That’s different! Nothing is allowed to become different, I say!”

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