Having fairly recently banded together with three others of elven blood—Talib Silverspear (a cleric of ______), Tharival (a wizardly sage), and Ilrave Moonshade (a monk who keeps to the shadows)—we encountered a gruff and burly human named Dorn, who informed us that his fellows of the Ring of Adventurous Men (ROAM) had all met their fate within this tower that lay ahead of us: Xonthal’s Tower. We had finally found our way out of that infernal labyrinth! Dorn warned us of the tower reversing gravity, so to be on our feet. So to speak.
Entering the tower, we found ourselves in a large foyer replete with balconies going up many storeys and a turret/tower that reached far above – at least a hundred feet up. I could see no end to it. Moving in a little further, we encountered what Tharival identified as an arcane teleportation circle. It held small voids of various shapes – each accommodating one of the large gems we had gathered in the labyrinthine garden outside (a rectangular garnet, cubic jade, spherical pearl, teardrop-shaped topaz, triangular bloodstone, and diamond-shaped diamond). Each was worth a small fortune in its own right, but seemed to also double as a key to this teleportation gateway. That cleric Talib seemed to have wanted to greedily keep all gems for himself. I shall have to keep an eye on him, to make sure he is walking a straight line.
At random, since we knew no more, we opted for the topaz. After having decided it was best to stay as a unit, we placed the topaz in its key receptacle. In the flash on an eye, we found ourselves in a 30’x60’ room, the teleportation circle there – along with a door to the ‘east’ and one to the ’north’) bearing a demonic visage, and off in one corner there was an infernal summoning circle . I noticed that in the “ceiling” 60’ above us there appeared a pool in which fey creatures of many types (having goat feet, dragonfly wings, etc.) were frolicking. Activating my winged boots, I fly up (gravity suddenly inverting halfway, at 30’) and realize it in not a fresco but all too real. The fey folk ignore me until I descend (ascend?) further, whereupon they invite me to join them in their fun. A most beauteous creature appeals to me to stay a while longer, offering a kiss in exchange for information on how to escape from this “infinite loop.” Being of partial fey blood, I know that kisses are more than they seem – I depart, with word to return when I can. Meanwhile, drawing upon his incredible arcane knowledge, Tharival was able to figure out the magical workings of this summoning circle – along with an understanding of its means to contain whatever foul beast would be called (a fiend, no less!).
After some debate, we decided to activate the summoning circle (by having a creature sitting on each of the six floating cushions present in the room). Immediately, a devil appears. After some deliberation of obtaining further power from this devil’s boss (Mistress Zariel, Duchess of Avernus [and Lord Volmer, her representative on the Sword Coast], who has expressed a keen interest in bringing down the Cult of the Dragon, and in granting power to those who would help to bring it down), I decline the contractual offer, realizing that by so accepting I would have to forego my paladin powers and connection with Hoar. Not worth it, despite the delicious irony of using fire to fight fire that the agreement would have offered.
Tharival further learns from the arcane sigils in the summoning circle that we can compel the devil to honestly answer three questions to the best of its ability/knowledge. Oh, the possibilities!! We first ask it the location of the white-clad wizard we seek (to obtain this dragonmask), whereupon we are told that he rests belowground in the castle. The devil opens the demonic-visaged doors for us. Rubbing my hands in anticipation of what question to next compel the devil to answer, the damn cleric—reminding himself of the self-righteous cork shoved deeply up his ass—sends the devil back to the hell from which he came. I had TWO more questions to compel him to answer! Grrrrrrr. I won’t soon forget that lost opportunity.
During our deliberating which to take, they begin to close – forcing a quick decision. We opt for the one on the right (‘east’), which proves too mighty to be kept open with a crowbar. We look around and find ourselves in a 30’ x 30’ square room, with a black and white chessboard comprising the floor. In the “ceiling” 60’ above, we see and hear the clashing of parties at war. Talib steps forward, rising into the air further with each stride forward. I begin to move diagonally, to remain on the same colour square I began on (black, with the colours divided evenly between the four of us). The monk quickly scampers across the wall (what a useful ability!) to the opposite side of the room, and begins to try to open the door at the far end (‘east’). Seeing his relative success, I fly to the other side, in turn taking Tharival and Talib with me. By this time, Ilrave had managed to get the door open.
Crystal Ball/Sarcophagi Room
Peering in, we see a 30’ x 30’ wood-panelled room, in the centre of which is a floating crystal ball resting on a purple satin cushion. Looking up, as we now all do, we see 60’ up on the ceiling eight sarcophagi. There are two doors in this room, the one through which we entered (‘west’) and one to our left (‘north’). Tharival peers into the crystal ball. Meanwhile, Ilrave heads to the ‘north’ door and gets to work opening it.
The Beetle and the Dancepole
Seeing immediately that the room is very grimy and dark, with a silver pole in the centre from floor to ceiling and with a red-hot beetle crawling along its length, Ilrave closes the door. When I get there, I open it to have a little look-see. I am rewarded for my brashness with a fire beetle (bomb-ardier beetle?) that was caught by surprise at my presence and defends itself by causing a fireball to erupt in the room, with me taking the brunt of it. Thankfully, I am toughened and am only somewhat injured by it. I see the beetle crawling back up the silver pole that is in the centre of the room. We scuttle in and quietly sneak (thanks to the monk enshrouding us in shadow) by, and the monk is able to open the door to our left (‘west’). It seems like this floor is laid out as a circle, with us heading towards back towards the room we arrived in, but through the opposite demonic-visaged door. Time will tell if our suspicions are correct.
Grand Gallery/Fractured Mirror
We enter a 60’x30’ room festooned with many paintings in various frames of gold, silver and so forth. Another door, now predictably, is on the opposite (‘west’) wall. The architecture in here is exquisite. Looking up, we see something odd – it’s like a fractured mirror-mirrored image of us, like this room and us in it is reflected back in a highly fractured mirror. As some of us are looking around (I see a picture of feyfolk frolicking in a pool, and another of a devil in a room – wonderful! This could prove to be a map of this floor!), we see forms begin to coalesce in the ceiling, including mirror images of ourselves that seem to be looking around, searching. However, at seeing our forms coalescing, I decide to make a run for the opposite door. At the sound that I make, the head of my fractured-mirror self suddenly snaps “up” (down) to me. The monk moves quickly, and his mirror-self suddenly is aware of Ilrave’s presence. As we head to the opposite door, crash – my and Ilrave’s fractured selves land on the floor by us. Thanks to the cloak of displacement he and I are wearing, our party is able to make quick work of these two creatures with little harm to ourselves. It is odd fighting oneself, even if it’s a fragmented, mirrored image thereof. Very disconcerting—there may a way to capitalize on this strategically when fighting an enemy. I should speak with the wizard about this sometime.
Black Rose Garden/Storehouse
Ilrave opens the door, and we see that the next room contains a thickly overgrown garden of black roses dripping a black liquid. The wizard spits forth globs of acid (what I would give to be able to do THAT!), and I begin using my glaive to cut through/remove the growth—inadvertently splashing myself with the black liquid. Which I quickly discover is poison due to my weakened state. Laying my hands on myself, I call upon Hoar’s power to rid me of this toxic substance and its ill effects on me. We are about to continue removing the thick growth when all of a sudden a huge black viper leaps at us from within. We kill it, avoiding the worst of its fangs dripping with this poison. I wish to remove its fangs to get at its poison sacs (how useful they would be against one’s enemies), but the cleric—in his holier-than-thou self-righteous expounding (which also cost us two more questions from the devil…)—meddles again and prevents me from taking the time to extract these. Of course, I don’t really know a giant viper’s poison sacs from its gall bladder (though I at least know that the poison sacs are in its head…), so I’d likely risk my own life try to extract them in an effort to shorten another’s life. Yes, I appreciate the irony. Irony I get. Much like poetic justice. They aren’t far removed – and equally delicious, most especially if justice is meted out in a poetic and ironic fashion…
We head up to the ceiling; the monk scrambling up and me shuttling the irritating cleric and the useful wizard. We find ourselves in a storehouse of sorts, a 30’ x 30’ room with shelves and boxes everywhere, a table piled with alchemical equipment and a dusty skull. The skull begins to emit a keening wail, whereupon the monk immediately cast it in silence, enshrouding it in the audial version of a shadow. The skull shattered from a single blow, the rubies comprising its eyes now also destroyed. Ilrave moves to the door to the demonic-visaged door to the ‘south’ [coinciding with the other like-visaged door in the original teleportation circled room]. He notices that the eyes are each a keyhole, without keys. Looking around, we see how long this could take. I place an arrow in my face-up palm, and call upon Hoar to guide me to the nearest key to unlock this door. The arrow floats above my hand, guiding us to the key – which is situated in a box, hidden under a stone in the floor. I move to the opposite side of the room and Tharival to the same spot, mirrored in the room beneath us (black rose garden). The wizard’s guess is correct. He locates the box and the key within. Placing a key in each eye, Ilrave pushes the demon’s fangs inward and the door opens! We enter the room (noticing feyfolk frolicking in a pool above us). But the teleportation circle is gone!