Graywalde, Dwarven Locksmith.
"...so rarely have I seen a creature of more determined greed or willingness to wield a battleaxe..."
Lueryth, Wandering Paladin.
"...counterpoint to Graywalde's temper, the paladin is slow to anger and steady with his crossbow..."
Elisavetta, Crusading Priest.
"...hot-blooded, never hesitates to speak her mind or act out against evil, regardless of consequence..."
Luscious, Gnome Illusionist.
"...singularly annoying fellow, able to see the humor in any situation, so long as no one else is enjoying himself..."
Eldorn, Ranger of the Eastlands.
"...come to us with a mission, to be his allies in a campaign against the creatures of the Eastlands..."
Cellie, Urnst Pickpocket.
"...anything to avoid a confrontation, but quick with her knives to pierce the back of a foe, not a soul to be taken lightly..."
From the Journal of Celindra Dovan of Urnst
We arrived today at Guidio's Fort on the River Shrill. As the chief advisor of the Keep on the Borderlands told us to do, we approached the master of the watch for work. Currently, they had nothing for us to do, though, so we retired to the inn for the evening.
It was there that we met a mysterious mage from the city of
Apparently, Castanamir's tower is believed to have returned, though the mage knew only a rough approximation of its location. He wanted us to locate the tower and find any information within it concerning its master, whom he apparently believed to be dead. The mage could see no other reason for the tower's return to the Realm. Elisavetta and Lueryth were hesitant to accept the mission, until Luscious spoke with surprising rationality.
"You realize," the gnome asked, "who will get the magic of the tower if we do not find it first?"
"The priests of Chaos," Elisavetta snarled, and I swear she clutched the haft of her morningstar at the mere thought of it. It seems that tomorrow we will be investigating the tower of a dead mage.
Three days had passed, and we were ready to give up the search. The mage had either been a madman or a clever charlatan playing us for fools. But then we spotted it...a depression in the ground, a trapdoor.
The Lost Tower of Castanamir was not a tower after all, at least not one that stretches up into the sky. Opening the trapdoor, we descended to a door of some alien metal, which opened without trouble. Within lay a well-appointed parlor, complete with desk, wall mirror, fireplace, and an odd, oval creature walking tracks into the carpet as it shot beams of light to disintegrate any fallen bits of garbage.
Further exloration showed that, while Castanamir lived in luxury, he also lived a life accentuated by magic. The fireplace burned without fuel or heat, for it was merely an illusion, and a small box kept ice statues forever frozen. Five exits led out of the entry, including the door we had used to come here. After a careful search, we determined to check the north door, first.
Beyond was a small closet stashed with heaps of worthless junk. Out of the mess leapt a leprechaun, who stole Graywalde's pouch. The creature chided and mocked us, and Graywalde's simmer nearly turned into a deadly explosion before Lueryth and Elisavetta convinced him to let the leprechaun go. The rotten little thing probably had friends, and the wrath of leprechauns is not worth the coins in one overfull pouch. We turned next to the door in the east wall.
The door opened into a room that hardly could have been enjoined to the entry. The floor, wall and ceiling were all composed of some odd, dark brick. Weapons racks were the only furniture; there were two of these. Luscious surveyed the scene and rubbed his chin, then turned and opened the door that should have led to the entry. The very door we had just passed through.
Rather than the entry, we found ourselves standing in a narrow, long, closet-like area. The floor and walls were of brick, but not of the unsettlingly dark shades of the room with the wooden racks. Luscious laughed to himself, muttering about "arch-mages and their senses of humor," and then searched the room about us. To my great surprise, the walls were spongy, as easily passed through as a waterfall.
I mentioned that we may not want to explore what lay beyond the illusionary wall; perhaps we should stick with more obvious avenues first, but Luscious reminded me that the door behind us would no longer lead to the room with the weapon's racks. Indeed, it could lead to the old wizard's animal pens, or the garbage room. The memory of the cleaning golem fresh in mind, I saw no reason not to explore this level of the tower while we were there.
Stepping through the wall, though, I did not find myself in another room but in another world! A city sprawled below the hilltop where I stood, and legions of orcs had massed to destroy it. I stood with an army of warriors, though, and an angel led our ranks. We swept down upon the humanoids and crushed them, without a single human dying. It was all so real that it took me several minutes to shake off the images, sounds, and sensations when Graywalde pulled me back into the room. The room beyond the spongy wall affected emotions with powerful illusions. Somehow, the dwarf had managed to overcome the effects and draw the rest of us out before we succumbed.
Not wanting to risk another attack of that sort, we determined to leave through the door we entered by, the one which reason stated should lead to the room with the dark gray bricks and racks of weapons. Unsurprisingly, we instead arrived in a long, marble hall with six exits. Crossing the hall, we found ourselves in a hall with wooden walls and just as many exits, but two of the doors had been forced open. Graywalde tested the door on the left first, pushing it open with the head of his axe. A thorough pillaging had taken place in the room we found; nothing of value remained.
The second door that had been broken open was attached to a number of heavy crossbows. As Graywalde pushed the door open, the bolts fired at him. Luckily, the bolts were aimed for targets of human height, and no one was standing behind the dwarf. We entered cautiously, curious as to who--or what--might be lairing here.
No one was home, though a cot showed signs of recent use. There was nothing of value in this room, either. We returned to the hall and opened the door next to the trapped one. Again, we traveled outside the scope of possibility, this time arriving in a large, rat-infested dining hall. Four exits led from this room.
We stopped to eat, watching the rats warily. Some of them were three or four feet in length. When we were done, we chose randomly, and stepped through the door on the wall to the right of the one that led us into the dining hall.
Almost reasonably, the door led us to a ruined kitchen. Pots and pans were strewn about the floor, and one step into the room told us why. A pair of berserkers had taken to lairing in the pantry! The sound of our first footfall brought the wild warriors rushing out for our blood!
A search of the area turned up a single gemstone, and a still greater treasure by far. The pantry restocked itself by magic. We had lost track of time, but we were all weary, as much from confusion as from physical exertion. We determined to rest in the pantry, and when we awoke we found the shelves restocked from dinner. Breakfast was fresh and tasty.
We left the kitchen through the door to the left of the pantry and immediately found ourselves in the room of eerie dark brick. This time, we had resolved over breakfast, we would look about in each room thoroughly, in case there was still more to the wizard's home than even strangely shifting doors. Not five minutes after our arrival in the room, a secret door opened and two ogres blundered out. They seemed as stunned to see us as we were to be encountering them, but their natural instincts overcame them; we had to dispatch them. Eldorn and Elisavetta suffered wounds from their massive clubs, and we needed to spend some time away from the search while Elisavetta prayed for healing. Lueryth and Graywalde examined the weapons on the racks, but none were to their satisfaction.
When we left the room, we were certain that nothing of interest remained. We departed through the door opposite the one by which we entered.
The door led us back to the wood-panelled hall where the cot lay. No one had returned to bed there, and so we took the door at the far left end of the hall.
This led to the kitchens again, which we crossed and exited. The next room was totally new to us. A sign proclaimed, Gingwatzim Exhibit: Do not cross lines. Each corner of the chamber was cordoned off from the rest of the room, and three of them contained a selection of seemingly unrelated items illuminated by a nimbus of light. I cannot say what a gingwatzim is, at least not at this point, but our search of the empty quadrant turned up something of interest. A trapdoor in the ceiling high above our heads. Unfortunately, we could find no way to get to it as it was well over arm's length away from any surrounding surface.
Going by the signs around the exhibits, we departed through the north door. This led to the marble hall, which we searched carefully until we opened the wrong door and again found ourselves in the wood-panelled hall. Luscious snickered and rubbed his chin a bit, but then we moved on. To the kitchens, to the room with the spongy walls concealing powerful illusions and back to the panelled hall again. Graywalde was muttering to himself, looking about for something to wield an axe against. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever find our way out of the tower.
Then, abruptly, we stumbled upon a room lined with bookshelves. Two men were in the act of looting a desk when we entered. One fled at the first sight of us, but the other fought to the death. Luckily, I didn't think we needed a clue as to where the second looter had fled. I was willing to bet that he was headed for the cot in the panelled hall--the only place that looked inhabited by anything other than berserkers.
Luscious and I gave the room a good search, hoping to find clues or treasure. The gnome was much more interested in what we found, and I was soon ready to follow Elisavetta and Lueryth after the second looter. The door led to the familiar green carpet of the entry. The sight of the exit was reassuring, and my journal would allow us to follow the proper combination of doors so that we could now leave whenever we pleased. We decided to follow the door to the right, opposite the main entry, and find out where it led.
In rapid succession we moved back to the kitchen and on to the marble hall. From there we found ourselves in an L-shaped room, where a force of hobgoblins had barricaded themselves behind several overturned tables. Eldorn attacked the creatures with a fury, and Graywalde followed closely after. Though outnumbered almost three to one, our warriors prevailed. From the hobgoblins we took a potion and a clerical scroll, and a rather fine necklace.
Our journey led to the eerie black-bricked room, to the marble hall, to the entry, and then back to the black-bricked room. Again, frustration was beginning to set in. I could only hope that the looter we were chasing after was enjoying the tower half as much as we were.
The exit to the right of where we stood led to the gingwatzim room, from which we took the southern exit, which led us--impossibly--to the opposite side of the entry room. We had turned around and come back the way we had left, when the entire room should have been directly behind us. For some reason, this struck me as more jarring than all the other teleportations we had experienced. The tower's magic was finally starting to get to me.
From the entry we found our way to the kitchens, and from there we finally arrived in the wood-panelled hallway. Here, we would find if my hunch was correct, and possibly find the answers to a few questions--if Graywalde didn't take out too many of his frustrations on the looter first.
Unfortunately both my hunch and my fears were proven correct, to an extent. The looter had indeed fled to the room with the cot, and he tried to attack us from the shadows as we entered the room. But it was Elisavetta who crushed his skull with her morningstar. She looked down mournlessly upon the dead rogue as Luscious cackled and began to sort through his pouches.
At this point the gods smiled upon us, for among the rogue's items was a potion of levitation. We needed only to find our way back to the "gingwatzim" chamber, and its trapdoor. But first we would go to the kitchens, and we would rest.
We awoke and left. With my journal for assistance, we quickly found our way to the gingwatzim chamber. There, Lueryth quaffed the potion and floated to the trapdoor. From above, he lowered a rope, and we all climbed...up. About halfway up the rope it occured to me that we were merely a few feet underground, and I had to force the realization away before it worked on my mind too much.
Above the gingwatzim room we found ourselves in a new series of chambers, all connected by exactly the same sort of mind-jarring doors.
These rooms seemed to be more important to Castanamir. We found a workroom guarded by an undead minion, where a shelf stored several completed potions. The accoutrements for brewing more potions lay all around the lab. Still deeper into the tower we came across a study that held a number of Castanamir's own spellbooks. These, our benefactor would want greatly, and they found their way into our pouches.
After wandering a bit more we found ourselves in a massive library, from which we took several other items our benefactor would certainly want. Another of Castanamir's guardians confronted us, but the battle was not so devastating as one would expect from the lair of a legenary arch-mage. Also in the library, Luscious cracked one of Castanamir's spelltomes, and the ward cast upon it nearly took off his head. Only Elisavetta's healing prayers saved him.
We left the library behind for a chamber dominated by a massive, haunted font. The creature that arose from its waters introduced itself as Naranzim, advisor to Castanamir, and it offered to provide information for a fee paid in gemstones. Lueryth asked of the arch-mage's fate. For a fee of ten gemstones, the creature informed us that Castanamir was either dead or in the process of dying, though he was not on any plane Naranzim could see.
We also paid for information concerning exits from the tower and the location of valuables. News that the arch-mage was dead seemed to relax Lueryth and Elisavetta, who had watched every book taken from Castanamir's shelves with apprehension. Now, it seemed, we were treasure seekers and the discoverers of relics, rather than thieves. I shall never understand paladins and priests. We learned that the library was the greatest source of value, and that a rear exit could be found off the side of the chamber above the gingwatzim room.
It seemed that we had met our goals! All that remained was to find this rear exit, and anything of value between the font and the door. Truth to be told, though, I was ready to leave the whole place behind for more rational locations.
Several now-familiar rooms appeared before we returned to the
floor above the gingwatzim room, and a quick search revealed the secret door to
the side of the trapdoor. A flesh golem stood guard on the far side of the
secret door, but Lueryth and Eldorn were able to overcome it. We took a few
more items from this room before slipping out the rear exit, just as Naranzim
had suggested. The door shut behind us, suddenly replaced by a blank hillside.
There was no returning to the lost
There was only one place left to go. We set off for Guidio's Fort.
A week has gone by since we emerged from the tower. I still think of it as a tower, even though the name could not give a poorer description. Our benefactor questioned us for several hours, and took the books we had gathered for him. As payment, we received any magic items--"trinkets," he called them--that we found in the tower. He left for Rhoona the day after we returned to the Fort.
Most of us have paid the two-hundred fifty pieces of gold that the trainers here expect. We have taken another step toward being masters of our crafts. The question now becomes, where next?
The truth is, I don't know. We have heard that there are dangers threatening the Eastlands on the River Shrill, threatening to attack Guidio's Fort from behind. Luscious joked yesterday that there were probably kobolds there, and Graywalde threatened to kill him for invoking the memory of his previous defeat in Specularum. I cannot see this adventuring party lasting much longer, and I don't believe Eldorn will be sorrow to see most of us go. He'll stay with Lueryth and Elisavetta, I imagine, and Luscious will hang around a bit longer. But I am a city girl, and I miss the streets and sights and...people. Maybe the others will coerce me into one more adventure, but I don't see my future in a place commonly known as the Beastlands. I'd be happier seeking my fortune in a place like Eor or Urnst.
But that is the future. Presently, I hear Luscious giggling outside my door. I'd best hide my journal, or he's likely to begin ammending it when I sleep.