Magus Grylandar is not with the Tower Guild, not anymore. Hasn’t been for decades. But he has a reputation among treasure hunters as a canny employer who is more than fair to those who carry out missions on his behalf.
He approached Rothchilde with a most intriguing proposition. If Rothchilde will gather a group of adventurers who don’t mind a little something on the side, out of sight of the vigilant Guilds, then it could be extraordinarily profitable. For making the effort, travel expenses are paid, as well as a 50 sina bonus. (And the chance to purchase a wand and additional spells from non-Guilder sources at… reasonable rates.)
Prince Erin was a governor for one of the Dracolithic states in what is now the Freeholds. He was famed for his connections to the Gilver, back in the days before Necromekk. But not much before. No one knows where the Prince was buried, but they suspect his body was hidden by his Gilver allies. All that transpired around the time when Mekk was subverted to become Necromekk. When the god that granted energy to the unliving became the god who channeled the energies of undeath.
Prince Erin had a small fortress on an island off the coast of the mountains, extremely out of the way, known as Prince Erin’s Folly. In the troubled times as Mekk fell, perhaps an enclave of Gilver settled in there, or already had a temple in that area. Perhaps his fortress will have a clue.
The heraldry for Erin’s house was the Catalyst, a giant iron bull that breathed a petrifying gust upon its foes. Could it be? Could an isolated Gilver outpost be nearby, and could they have a surviving Catalyst of Mekk? If so, even news of finding such a thing is worth 1,000 sina to the Magus. If it could be subdued, it would be priceless, but he would offer 10,000 sina for it exclusively (as his information sends them on this trip.)
So the brave souls undertaking this ambiguous mission traveled to the coast, where a ship waited to take them to the island. Approaching the island, they see a narrow ship at anchor in the restless sea off the frozen coast. Their captain grimly informs them that reef crawler action has intensified this winter, and there is a 2 sina per head bounty on them. Maybe that’s why the other ship is here. Maybe.
Then the explorers hunched in the longboat, carried over the heaving sea, soaked with spume and tasting salt, approaching the cheerless spit of land that may hold priceless relics from thousands of years ago. Already, they can see the shattered silhouette of Prince Erin’s Folly dominating the low horizon.
Varthres 10, 2031
They landed on the island, soaked to the bone. As they approached Prince Erin’s Folly, a broken down watchtower presiding over some ruined buildings, they spotted some men guarding the ruin. Euclid used his stealth and tracking to check the back trail, estimating a dozen of them, with a heavy box. As Hirsch flanked the group using his uncanny stealth, Rothchilde opened negotiations.
The friendly rough men invited him in out of the cold, and he summoned the rest of the group to go with him. Once inside, they were chatting about reef crawler bounties when the men pounced on Euclid, not having much use for an unrestrained Midrianite in their midst. That triggered a general melee, or would have; Rothchilde drew himself up and radiated his supernatural power, terrifying them. As they fell back, or ran away, the adventurers gleefully set to with their weapons.
Those fleeing were intercepted by Hirsch and his mighty axe, and he slaughtered the first two escapees as Euclid calmly crippled another. Those who ran from their guard posts on the roof were chased down by Kira and pulped, with the occasional arrow arcing down from Euclid.
As Quinn undertook the distasteful task of finishing off the wounded, Rothchilde found a big chest the pirates brought ashore with them. Quinn tried her hand at picking the lock, and was pricked in turn by a sharp, discolored needle. Panic and poison flowed through her, and Euclid managed to negate the effects of the poison that clutched at her heart. They searched the pirates for a key; finding none, she tried the lock again and picked it. The chest was full of treasure!
The invaders searched the tower carefully, but found no clues about any nearby temple of Mekk. Their search expanded outside, and Euclid found reef crawler tracks that disappeared in some disrupted earth. They gathered around the trapdoor, and hauled it open.
As they descended into the dark, croaks of challenge rose from the reef crawlers. The battle became decidedly one-sided when Rothchilde knocked 4 of the 5 out with magic, and the party bowled over the last one. As Quinn again demonstrated her expertise in killing unconscious foes, they discovered this had been a wayside shrine to Mekk. They respectfully withdrew to the outer chamber and considered a door that was barricaded with furniture from the shrine, with something evil behind it.
After rolling in a stone that cast light, and shooting in an arrow that cast light, they suspected the creatures that kept devouring the light sources did not like light. The ever-impetuous Kira charged in and sparred with a pair of undead reef crawlers, then withdrew. They did not pursue. Quinn got a line of sight on them, and she looked tastier; they charged out, Hirsch engaged them, and Rothchilde webbed them up. They were summarily slain, and as the web burned off, the invaders withdrew to outside to escape the rancid smoke.
They noted the fog had thickened. That could be ominous. But it hid the column of smoke.
Back down into the darkness, and they found a spiral staircase heading down. Following it, they came out in a room lit by two everburning torches, so naturally they took them. Quinn scouted one hallway, not liking the look of some thirty meditating robed figures generating a hum.
They followed the other corridor, finding a room packed with fungus, as well as a couple nasty amorphous threats. Rothchilde froze a path to the far door with his Ice Thorn wand, and they discovered on the other side of the door a room full of deadly dust, with an iron throne radiating holy death energies. Quinn carefully collected some of the dust as Euclid sparred with the slime monster that seemed determine to taste some Midrianite. After slaying the slophunter (its acid mangled his favorite masterwork rapier), and smashing one of the jellyfleshers, they retreated back to the main room to rest and regain some of their spells and nerve.
Euclid put a silence in the hallway past the meditating figures, and they slipped past unnoticed. They found a temple to Mekk that had been subverted to Necromekk. Heading up a staircase, they were startled by a life-size statue of a Catalyst, well rendered. When their heartbeats returned to normal, they investigated a room full of statues. Finding little of interest, they crossed to another door, and Hirsh burst through to interrupt a conversation—
—and found about twenty skeletons and four priestesses! Battle was joined, desperate and clattering, as bones flew apart under mighty blows and hissing death monsters clawed at the hated living. The priestesses flung death energies at the invaders, rejuvenating their own dark powers with the blood energy of their attackers. Repeated blasts of cold from Rothchilde turned the tide, and Euclid shot their leader in the forehead, killing her instantly before the priestesses dropped him with their foul magics.
With the leaders down, Rothchilde webbed the skeletons in place, and the invaders withdrew a bit to catch their breath. Then, flame in the web finished the last skeletons off. The intruders stalked into the Necromekk holy place, noting the statue that had been repainted to Necromekk colors from its once benign Mekk representation.
They followed a corridor to a locked door, but all that seemed to be within was some giant sleeping weasels and a well, so they didn’t bother opening it. Retreating all the way back to the pillared temple with the spiral staircase, they decided to see what was upstairs.
Seeing a peculiar arch across the room, the one in first position, Hirsch, stepped forward to investigate. The more mundane arch into the room was enchanted, and he went to sleep. After various experimentation (including Rothchilde’s effort to suppress the enchantment), the rest of the group pulled him back in, and they retreated back to the pillared hall. Eventually he woke, and they followed the stairs down.
At the bottom of the stairs was another arch. This one animated, forming two Mekkguards. Rothchilde spoke to them in Dracoris, a language old enough for them to know it. They offered the invaders a choice; leave, or go through the interior door and answer the mystery before them. And not leave. Ever.
Rothchilde attacked the Mekkguards, and the end seemed to be upon the group. But Kira leaped at them with savage fury and in a matter of seconds had broken the core of both guards with her brutal fighting technique and mastercraft elven spiked knuckles (and the help of her stalwart allies).
With the guardians down, the group sent Kira in to scout. She saw mashed paper all over the floor, then a shape—
—a bull shape that charged her, smashing through the corner of the wall in its fury to reach and trample her fragile body to elf-paste! So she sprinted back, they slammed the door, and it banged into the door hard enough to dent it and ram two steely horns through.
They retreated back up to the pillared hall and consulted. Quinn scouted back down, cautiously, noting some “blood” substance leaked under the door. She collected it, and the party ruminated on what it could mean; did they have the proof they needed?
Eventually the meditating figures woke, and the party retreated up the staircase to hide and wait. Rothchilde again talked to the arch at the top of the stairs, like the arch at the bottom of the stairs; it formed a pair of Mekkguards as well. They did not know whether a catalyst lurked in the depths, but they were not about to let anyone leave.
Hearing a shrill scream as those who had been meditating found their clergy slain, guardians ruptured, and temple defiled, they figured discretion might be the better part of valor.
Racing out, they reached the surface around sunset. A scouting party from the pirate ship spotted them, and Rothchilde swept their consciousness away in a burst of inexorable magic. They entered the watchtower to collect the chest of coin, surprising another scouting party at point-blank range. Rothchilde knocked all but one out, and the other swiftly fell before the party’s ready violence.
Escaping with the chest, they made it to the coast, where Rothchilde released a fireball to signal the ship. The longboat picked them up, and as the Magus’s representative demanded an update, the ship captain heaved up the anchor and ran, as the pirate ship was closing on them.
Euclid gave them some souvenir arrows in the hull, then the ship was at full sail, and the pirates broke off pursuit.
The party talked the grudging representative into some coin for their troubles, and Euclid sold a map of the complex to him for additional funds, which were split among the party.
Behind them, deep in the darkness, a riddle or two remained. But they had emerged alive and victorious and a little wealthier, enriched by their experiences below the broken tower of Prince Erin’s Folly.
April 23, 2011