The Beginning of the End

Heart of Nightfang Spire

12th October, 1369 DR

The party returns to Proskur to find an excited welcoming committee of two. The PCs see a man return to the town badly beaten, bringing rumors of a tower in a ravine in the wilderness guarded by giants and a dragon. The party decided to investigate and were ambushed by stone giants. After reaching the tower they discovered no entrance and were forced to climb to the top where they found “the dragon”; really a freaky squid thing with bat wings.

Descending the interior of the tower, the party came across four-armed gorillas, an assortment of undead, and a woman who got turned undead, killed Clad and turned him into an undead creature who then tried to kill his friends. In the short time with the woman before she died the PCs found out that the person/creature in charge of the tower is a vampire named Gulthias. His symbol, a dying tree, has been in a number of locations throughout the tower. Amid the wreckage in one of the rooms, the PCs found an enchanted dagger that has helped them fight the ghosts and shadows they have encountered.

The party rescued a poor, helpless, defeated young rogue named Kevros Fletcher who tags along with the group. The PCs continue to descend and fight more girallons and 3 flesh golems. They encounter a large, freaky, bird-like demon that offers his aid, and the party decides to let the demon tag along. (Did I mention that he’s a DEMON?) The vrock tells them that Gulthias was the leader of a cult that worshiped the red dragon Ashardalon. When the dragon was defeated and banished, Gulthias became a vampire in order to prolong his life and await Ashardalon’s return. Gulthias convinced the whole cult to drink special kool-aid and has since raised many of them as undead.

Travelling down to the next level, the party encounters zombies, gorillas and a mohrg. As the battle begins, the demon attacks the party from behind. (What?!? Who saw that coming?!?) In the end, the PCs were victorious and feeling very good about themselves until they got the snot beat out of them by an Elder Fire Elemental. 10 minutes and a couple dozen spells later the party comes against the fiery threat more prepared and destroys their foe.

The party then descends into the catacombs beneath the tower to seek out the pieces of the “dragon key” that will allow them access to the core. They are immediately confronted by literally hundreds of skeletons and zombies in the bottom of an underground cavern, with a slender stone pillar rising in the middle supporting a statue of a dragon with a piece of the key in its mouth. After a great deal of sneaking, hiding, planning, and general wimpiness, the party devises a plan to retrieve the key. After the new rogue barely avoids hurting himself setting off the trap guarding the key, the group is attacked by spectres and scares most of them off. They then continue on and see the rogue successfully disarm two traps in order to obtain another key piece, and they begin thinking that the rogue’s previous failure was a fluke… but then he triggers two more traps and fails to detect another, and 30 damage and a poisoned monk later the party begins again to question the skill of their new companion.

The next area presents a new challenge, a large humanoid shape made up entirely of tombstones. After more fearful sneaking and hiding in total darkness with a silence spell, the party surrounds and attacks the golem. The party is able to do a great deal of damage to their foe thanks to a golembane scarab that they just found and an adamantine sword located previously. Unfortunately, they couldn’t destroy the golem before it landed two powerful blows on Darin and killed him. In the following round, Darin disappeared and Valkor struck the final blow to kill the golem.

After taking a chance to rest and regroup, the party takes on 4 mohrgs and continues to explore the catacombs. The PCs then encounter a man traversing the catacombs with a torch. After the dwarf tips him off to their presence, the party discovers that the man is Fervor’s twin brother, Din’katsu, who has been searching for his brother for 3 years. Shortly after meeting “Din”, the party encounters a group of girallons who choose to talk and help rather than smash and pound. The leader of this tribe of girallons, Thiff, allows the PCs to take a number of magical items that her people accumulated in their explorations.

On the far side of the girallon complex, Thiff shows the party a room that ignites with fire any time someone tries to leave. The rogue successfully detects two traps, not just one, that are a part of an altar to Ashardalon. After three attempts to disarm, all unsuccessful, Kevros notices writing on the now charred altar and calls Valkor in to translate. Valkor discovers that the writing is a riddle, and answers the question correctly (accidentally) by providing no answer at all. As a reward, a yellow beam shoots from the altar and strikes the dwarf in the chest, causing no small amount of pain. He leaves the room and no fire erupts. After three more failures by Kevros, Valkor has an idea that if the trap is magical, he may be able to dispel it. The rogue, however, pridefully insists that the trap is mechanical and continues trying to disarm the fire trap. After another ten failures (yes, that’s 16 total failures! …with a 45% chance of success!), Kevros finally admits that the trap is magical, and the dwarf walks in and dispels it on the first try (with a 15% chance of success!). This experience has taught us two important lessons: First, foolish pride makes you lose your credibility (and your hair, and your clothes…). Second, if there was ever any doubt why rogues need evasion… On the bright side, Valkor is now the newest member of the Cult of Ashardalon.

The party continues on in search of the fourth (and final) piece of the key that will grant them access to “the Core” where Gulthias awaits. Kevros fails to disarm yet another trap, but fortunately this one can only be tripped once. The noise caused by the trap put the girallons and night hags in the next room on alert. As soon as the door is opened, the girallons attack, while the night hags remained invisible until the most opportune moment. Once everyone is engaged in combat, the night hags materialize behind the dwarf and the thief. Valkor escapes practically unscathed while Kevros is bitten by one of the hags. As the party is finishing off these foes, more girallons and two mohrgs enter the fray. Ultimately, all enemies are defeated with little damage done to the PCs.

They then investigate an alcove that the thief is afraid of entering (due to a “1” roll on a Search check). Hucknor bravely enters and promptly disappears from sight. While the rest of the party dithers, the gnome explores the area he was transported to. After exploring a few empty rooms, Fervor arrives and joins Hucknor at a set of double-doors. The rest of the party quickly travels the catacombs searching for their lost companions. They arrive just as the statue holding the final piece of the dragon key attacks. After a disappointingly short battle, the party continues on to encounter five mohrgs, one of which is equipped with a necklace of fireballs. This mohgr chooses the moment before its certain death to activate the necklace and blow-up everything in the room, including its allies. One mohrg survives (thanks to a ring of fire resistance), but doesn’t last through the next round. With the whole of the catacombs cleared, the PCs decided to return to the rooms controlled by Thiff’s tribe in order to rest and prepare prior to facing Gulthias.

After casting numerous (perhaps excessive) defensive spells, the party uses the dragon key to access the core. During the excruciatingly long 24 seconds it took for the core to rotate, the PCs were attacked by vampire spawn who appeared out of nowhere. (Well, maybe attacked isn’t the right word. The vampires popped into the room and were promptly obliterated by Hucknor.) In the following round, an invisible assailant dealt a painful blow to the monk. Fortunately, thanks to a well placed death ward spell and immunity to poison, Fervor succeeded on all three saving throws. No further attacks come, and the core finally opens, so the party rushes in.

They find a large, more-or-less “circular” room with a trapdoor in the middle of the 50 foot high ceiling. Kevros immediately flies up and unlocks the trapdoor while Valkor begins the 30 second process of extending his rope to the ceiling. A couple of rounds later, Valkor and Fervor are plunged into total darkness. Valkor is then attacked by the same invisible attacker and, like Fervor, succeeds on all of his saving throws. The dwarf flees the darkness in a cone of flame, and the monk is attacked by the saving-throw-generating assassin. At the same time, a lightning bolt comes through the trapdoor and hits the gnome and the swordsage. Din appears next to the invisible lightning-wielder, and the thief flies up after him as the dwarf and the monk begin climbing the rope. The crafty vampire then flies directly above the trapdoor, firing another lightning bolt down through the thief and into the two poor saps climbing the rope.

At this point, Gulthias is feeling pretty good about himself; his foes are weakened, he’s only cast a few of his many spells, his defenses would keep all but the most lucky of attacks from striking home, and in another moment he would become invisible again. Things seemed to be going well… Little did he know that the Master of Godly Might, Bane of All Undead, was firing the previously unheard of, but aptly named, Bolt of Glory in his direction. In the instant before the utter destruction of his very essence, he gazed wide-eyed at his diminutive foe, and vowed that if he somehow lived again, he would forever flee the presence of all gnomes.

(I’d sum up what happened next, but after that, does anything else even matter?)

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