Though they had been constantly attacked for a time, the party was not deterred, and managed to beat back their latest attackers. Once the wave of Wisps had passed, Gavriil the Human Arcanist suggested a change in tack– trudging through the middle of the island to search for whatever it was here wasn’t working, perhaps they should circumnavigate the beach in search of mysteries? Elysia the Half-Elven Ranger was quick to take him up on this suggestion, backing up her friend hastily! A short trek back to the beach, in which they were able to avoid any additional Wisps, and then they began their circular march!
After getting around about three quarters of the island, it was Elysia and Noruas the Human Gunslinger who spied, above the treeline a distance inland, the top of a crumbling tower through the mist and fog. Pointing it out to Gavriil, the Arcanist cheerily led the group towards the tower, stating “At last, what we’ve been looking for!” A short hike inland, and the tower was within easy sight! As they drew nearer, an ominous sense of foreboding came over the party, and Elysia in particular felt as though there was something out there, unseen, watching her…
Up close, the tower proved to be about forty feet tall, crumbling and open at the very top. Old stonework all around the base of the tower was in a state of disarray, and upon inspection, Eneko the Human Bard/Cavalier was able to date them back several thousand years– clearly, quite old. Examining the walls, Gavriil found broken carvings of old Aklo, which he was able to piece together an understanding of between his scholarly knowledge and his Comprehend Languages spell. To the best of his understanding, the majority of the writings were old, blasphemous prayers, and after some more study he was able to pick out the name ‘Yog-Sothoth’ among the symbols…creepy.
Having thoroughly examined the outside of the tower, it was now time to check inside. The first thing to notice among the crumbling stairs and bits of rubble was a massive, fifteen foot high black door/gate, words scrawling across the top arch and a circular symbol of a black hand with a red eye in its palm sitting at the peak. Noruas identified the gate as being made of Adamantine, which, due to her long search for such a metal, made her immediately argue for finding a way to open or dismantle the gate so that she could melt it down for her purposes. Gavriil quickly Levitated towards the top of the gate to get a proper reading on the words at the top, which he translated: “When the planets align, I will open again.”
Ominous words, and enough to allow Elysia and Gavriil to convince Noruas *not* to grab the doors as soon as she could. The group used various mundane and magical means to ascend up to the top floor of the tower, and in the rubble up there searched for some time for anything valuable. The group was highly successful, coming up with a Sleep Arrow, a scroll with two spells (including a level six spell of Chain Lightning!), a Rod of Cancellation, and a Ring of Protection +2! Taking a good look at the rest of Candlemere from the top of the tower, the party decided that they had managed to map enough of it to get an accurate picture, and there didn’t seem to be anything else of interest nearby, thus it was time to move on.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the lake and surrounding area, while the next day they made haste back to the Lizardfolk island to talk with them. This time instead of sneaking, the group swam their way over to the island, and requested an audience with the Lizardfolk king. The sentries at the front gate hissed and sissed, but granted the request, sending one to fetch their leader while the others remained to speak with the PC’s. After a few moments, the king of the lizardfolk, Vesket, appeared! Gavriil headed the talks, being the kingdom’s Grand Diplomat. The Arcanist began by introducing them as the Lizardfolk’s neighbors to the north, dropping a hint that perhaps Hargulka had mentioned them. Some of the PC’s noticed, at the mention of Hargulka, Vesket appeared to almost flinch.
The group spoke at length, with the party trying to convince Vesket to trade with their kingdom, while Vesket remained adamant that they were loyal to Hargulka’s own kingdom, as their ancient ancestors guided them to be. The party had a good trading line to use on the lizards, who confessed occasional problems in gathering food, but the reluctance to provide Elf-steaks, Dwarf-burgers, and Gnomecakes led to an inability to seal the deal. As Noruas began to question Vesket’s ‘ancestors’ who were giving the tribe advice, the Lizardfolk grew increasingly dissatisfied, eventually demanding that the party leave. Though the Gunslinger brought up the idea of eliminating Vesket in order to gain leadership of the tribe (as she had established that leadership was based upon strength), this idea was eventually thrown out, and the party left.
The remainder of the day was spent exploring the remaining areas of land, and the next morning they set out further west. In this direction, the party began to see signs of decreased animal life, and bushes and trees barren of berries and fruit. This proved to be the only thing of interest in the area, and the group rested that night with little to mention.
The forest to the north the next day was quite similar– almost devoid of fauna, and flora which appeared to be overharvested. Around midday, they came to a hollow, where they saw a pile of bones littering the center of it. The group began to cautiously look around, and Gavriil cast Detect Magic to determine if there was a magical cause of the destruction. While nothing near the bones was pinging, he *did* get an aura that seemed to emanate a few feet into the ground underneath the roots of a nearby tree. Interested, the Arcanist advanced– and was soon laid into by a long, sharp branch from the dangerous Scythe tree which had hidden itself in the glade!
A brief fight, which did manage to leave Gavriil in the negatives for a moment, was resolved with an arrow from the Ranger, her bow striking true and piercing the thick bark hide of the plant creature. Once the Arcanist was healed, he made quick work of the dirt underneath where the Scythe tree’s roots were, unearthing an old and slightly tattered robe. Examining it, he determined it to be…a Robe of Bones! Quite the find for aspiring Necromancers and raisers of dead! Donning the robe, Gavriil admired his new garb, but soon found himself much less than satisfied with the outcome, as when he attempted to cast a spell he was set upon by scratching and biting from within the folds of cloth! Try as he might he was unable to remove the robe, and using an Identify spell (after losing it the first time due to distracted casting), he found that what he had put on was in fact a Robe of Vermin!
Though at first it was discussed to use the Rod of Cancellation on the Robe, Gavriil and Eneko were both worried that this would remove its useful properties as a Robe of Bones. Fortunately for Gavriil, he searched through his pack and came up with an Oil of Remove Curse, which when rubbed all over the robe allowed him to remove the offending cloth. With this taken care of, the party was ready to set off again, halfway through the month of Rova!
Players, do not read!
Not much to say here, but for some comments on my changes to the adventure. Like I mentioned previously, the players were really hoping for a decent payoff after all the Wisps they were facing off against, and the adventure really doesn’t give squat. So, after adding in a gateway to some kind of horror-themed dungeon to naturally open at a later time (I’m thinking the planets will align in maybe three and a half years?), I gave them search checks to see if they could find some items in the rubble, with the higher the Perception check, the better stuff they’d find. Two natural twenties gave them the Ring of Protection and the Rod of Cancellation, and the rest were produced from slightly lower rolls.
Talking with King Vesket was reasonably interesting, and while Noruas and Elysia didn’t have much to do with the negotiations with the king, they did have plenty to talk about with the guards while waiting. Elysia managed to win a staring contest with a reptile, and Noruas verified that Lizardfolk *would* indeed eat children. No one seemed to pick up on the little reaction that Vesket had at Hargulka’s name– I asked for a Sense Motive check to see it, and two of the party passed, but no one asked about it or even made another Sense Motive check on their own initiative later on. My idea here is that Vesket is in pretty good with Hargulka, and this means that he knows the trolls as well as the Lizardfolk are running low on food in the south– soon (maybe as soon as next session?), the trolls will launch their attack on one of the kingdom’s farms in an attempt to grab provisions.
The forest that the group explored after this all showed signs of over-eating– almost no game, little in the way of plant foods. Eneko and Noruas thought that the Scythe tree was wholly responsible for this, but Gavriil and Elysia pointed out that with their knowledge of the tree, it was likely to only have eaten wild game and other passersby, not plants. We’ll see if the party puts two and two together before or after the troll attack!