After resting and gathering supplies, our group was confronted by the image of the cowled Red Wizardess we recognized as Syranna. She expressed surprise that our groups managed to so successfully disrupt experiments and operations within The Doomvault – without taking causalties. Yet, wards still prevented our teleportation from the dungeon. We were tasked with an assault on the phylacteries stored within a chamber located deep beneath the dungeon. Their destruction would destroy several high-ranking liches and severely curtail Szass Tam’s strategy for the future of Thay. Having heard these instructions, a few of us quietly grumbled, suspecting some treachery remained afoot, and anticipated a great final battle. After a moment of contemplation, we walked through the Black Gate.
We materialized in an ominous tetrahedral pyramid whose walls, floor and ceiling were made of white marble. Around us we noted three white marble sepulchers at the floor’s points. Each featured two, four-armed sword-wielding gargoyles carved into its surface. Short white pedestals dotted the floor. The only other feature notable in the room’s center was an churning, amorphous opaque black pool. The highly upward sloped walls featured similar features, yet slightly redistributed. A short pile of rubble marked each wall’s edge.
Zawadi, moving an arm back toward the wall, felt a pulling sensation, seeming to suggest one could walk on each wall as though it was the present floor. Tyr spoke haltingly, “In my life, I never read, nor seen such an odd place. Prepare yourselves. I sense strong magic afoot.” I similarly felt tell-tale auras emanating around the room: the pools (necromancy), the sepulchers (necromancy), and the marble pedestals (radiant energy). “As much as I disagree with your arcane focus, Tyr, it seems to me you might revel in this chamber as a laboratory. I wouldn’t take up residence just yet though,” I said.
Seeking insight in to what we faced, Aldrik called upon Whelm to detect gold and gems within the chamber. His consciousness was pricked and heightened – each sepulcher was stuffed with them both. Walking up to a sepulcher’s door, I tried the handle. Locked. “My turn,” I said rolling out my leather strip of lock picks.
What are we waiting for?" he grunted and charged forward toward a second sepulcher’s door. He battered it down using Whelm’s head. “The impatience of dwarves,” I clucked. As the door crashed down, the gargoyle’s leaped to defend the entrance. Artrious swung his sword over Aldrik’s head cleaving into one gargoyle’s stony flesh, but missing the second.
Meanwhile, behind them both, Tyr crushed a tiny strip of squid tentacle and chanted. Squirming black tentacles appeared and grasped both gargoyles. “No Threskel. My turn.” Tyr chuckled. The tentacles proceeded to squeeze and dash both into the ground twice. Gaining its feet, one gargoyle landed a sword slash that grazed Artrious’ armor. “Not good enough, beast.” Artrious snarled.
The glowing blessing of Bahaumut empowered us all. Wave, with force, pierced the first gargoyle’s neck. Cordius withdraw the trident and jabbed it the second beast. A deft slash by Quinley prevented the second gargoyle from recovering. Both fell.
Quinley and Aldrik crowded into the sepulcher. Shelves ran floor to ceiling along each wall. Arcane energy pulsed off of leather bags, amulets, daggers, gems, scrolls, symbols and other objects. “Truly a shame that this small fortune is ensorcelled as phylacteries. Imagine the good deeds that might be done with these objects,” I whispered. “Aye lad. Sadly they are all made good only by crushing!”, Aldrik lamented, swinging Whelm at the closest object. The hammer contacted an unseen force and tossed Aldrik back into the wall. “Durn it,” he said, shaking away dizziness.
Tyr entered the chamber. He had a far-away look and seemed to focus his mind. “I am disable the protecting ward. It will take some time and focus, but we shall then be able to destroy the phylacteries.”
Fountains of black wisp energy burst forth from the a vortex that formed above the pool. A black gleaming skull emerged from the vortex. Each of its eye’s contained a ruby, while eight large diamonds stood in its jaw in place of teeth. “That’s quite a gawdy display, the likes of which I’ve not seen on most nobles.” A piercing sentience screamed into our minds, “Interlopers. I am Kazit Gul. You dare? You will not leave this place!”
The skull rotated towards Tyr, making eye contact. He suddenly shuddered and his body fell, seemingly lifeless. I noticed one of the formerly dull ruby “eyes” wink to a bright glow. My memory finally clicked: “That skull is a demilich. We have to hurry and destroy it, else Tyr’s body will wither and his soul will remain trapped inside the gem. The foul abomination will consume his soul at its leisure. Only the destruction of the gem in proximity to Tyr’s body will reunite his soul and body.”
Zawadi rushed across the shallow dark pool, yelling in pain as it sapped life-energy. Standing behind the skull, Zawadi lifted Bahaumut’s symbol, which blazed brightly, turning the demilich. “Away with you.”
Meanwhile, Aldrik scratched his head, laughed, and proceeded to upend his knapsack. Done he slid for cover, rolling Tyr’s body over his to hide from the skull’s gaze. Quinley and I stood atop two pedestals anticipating the upcoming attack. Neither of us could fathom what Aldrik was planning. Artrious gesturing in a circle around Quinley, cast protection from evil. The skull slowly drifted into range of whole group.
Leaping upward, Quinley viciously hit the skull with a barrage of 5 swiping and piercing attacks. A brutally accurate throw of Wave left it hanging from the skull, which caused it to momentarily spin. I launched a subsequent piercing attack with Fang. A melodious second blessing of Bahaumut echoed across the chamber.
Aldrik suddenly rolled out from cover and leapt into the air. Remarkably he opened his bag of holding wide open, sacking the skull. He hovered in the air before lifting himself atop the bag and jumping repeatedly on it until they both hit the ground.
Opening the bag a crack, Artrious pierced the skull twice with a downward stab twice. A grand puff of black ash floated out of the bag as skull crumbled. Artrious quickly grabbed the glowing ruby and crushed it with his sword pommel. A momentary white flash preceded a gasp from Tyr’s body. Aldrik bent to sweep the remaining ruby and diamond into his bag. I shook my head, “I doubt you would wish to possess such gems after we witnessed their use as prisons. Besides, I expect you would not want to be visited by this One again.” Looking down, the second ruby twinkled and we momentarily noted a small skull floating inside. “Damn it, elf! I hate it when you are right.” Aldrik growled before he set to smashing each with Whelm. A distant wail sounded.
Our party proceeded to destroy the two remaining phylactery sepulchers around the room.
Thinking ahead, we blasted the inanimate gargoyles with spells, before I picked each locked door. Zawadi bent to disrupting the second vault, while Tyr disrupted the third.
As the third sepulcher was disabled, the white pedestals began to crumble away and the pool dried up into ash. The vortex collapsed, spilling ash and diamonds onto the floor. As the chamber shook, Aldrik swept a handful of the stones into his bag – unbeknownst to all. The glyph keys began to pulse faster in rhythm. “Time to go all. I, for one, do not wish to become a permanent resident of such an unsavory locale.” I said with a twinkle in my eye. Leaping through the Black Gate, we appeared in the Gatehouse.
Surrounding us in the Gathehouse we found crowded arounds the individuals we had saved from the Doomvault and our companions: the group of human prisoners from fighting pit, the rescued the Chosen (of Ilmater, Rillifane Rallathil), the halfling minstrel Drevin, Jekk, Hadarr, Curran, Shalendra, and Kelson Darktreader. Likewise, shackled, Mennek (gagged) and the Chosen of Auril stood hatefully glaring at us. Syranna walks through their ranks, congratulating us.
She turns to Tyr, telling him she has monitored his actions. She invites him to stay in Thay, promising him power and influence if supports her efforts in the civil war against Szass Tam. He accepts, bidding us goodbye. The large group teleports away to Daggerford.
As we materialize near Daggerford’s gates, we encounter Sir Isteval and Darfin Floshin. They are both relieved to see our return of the companions and the Chosen. A town guard quickly takes custody of the manacled Mennek and Chosen of Auril. Isteval congratulates our thwarting of the Thayan threat to the Sword Coast. Yet, he advises we take care to beware the vengeance of Baazaka. He is troubled as we relate Szass Tam’s attempt to collect and weaponize the divine essence of the Chosen.
He finally relates in detail a looming threat to Faerun. The Cult of the Dragon has become increasingly active, moving and manipulating events across Faerun. Factions are now recruiting adventurers challenge these threats, including the Harpers, the Order of the Gauntlet, The Emerald Enclave, the Lord’s Alliance and…the Zhentarim.
Time will tell what events await us…. Keep safe, friend. Call upon my companions and I when you are in need. I, for one, shall answer. You have my word.
Field report to Allistair Talloak