The Ruby Rod

Episode 105

From the Frozen Castle to the Library

As Tempest is taking in the story of Karavakos painted on the entrance tunnel walls, she feels a sudden movement behind her. She turns and finds that Tavar has vanished. As she is about call to the others something grabs her legs and pulls her underground, except the passes through the ground as if it were nothing.

She later wakes in a dark room, her head throbbing. Checking herself over, everything is accounted for except her primary weapon, a magical dagger. On the ground she finds a trail of blood. It leads to a wall and ends. She finds no mechanism to open the wall, so she continues down the adjacent hall. She finds her way onto the other side of the wall, a small dorm room, the trail leading to the next wall. The next room the same, and the next, until the hallway ends and with it the trail.

A force draws her down another corridor and up a long spiral staircase. At the top she finds a small room, as if the top of a watchtower, the windows shut. In the middle of the room is a glowing ball of light, various pieces of gear floating in the air, circling it. She realizes these are Tavar’s belongings, a holy symbol of Pelor floats by, defaced by some unknown force.

A voice calls to Tempest, telling her to wait here, that Tavar will need her help when he returns. The thief sits and waits. Hours pass, the walls slowly begin to ice over, until the room she is in no longer resembles the one she was in. The glowing light begins to pulse and the floating items are drawn to the light. With a flash, Tavar returns, confused. Tempest soon learns that Devas do not retain their memories from life to life, and is attempting to catch Tavar up on their predicament when the rest of the party rounds the corner, ogres and mind flayer in tow.

Suspicious but eager to move on, the Tiki Man accepts that the newcomers are members of the party. Confused, Tempest and Tavar join the group and move deeper into the mirror maze until they reach the illusionary wall they had found before. The party explains that a chute is on the other side leading to the chamber where the dragon is. The Tiki man sends one of his ogre guards to investigate, a moment later it calls up with the all clear.

The group enters The Whites chamber, the Tiki Man immediately fixates on the frozen dragon. A group of ogres calls down from the chute saying that they are blocked off for some reason. Daelock had placed a more durable illusionary wall behind the group as they entered, blocking off the Tiki Man’s reinforcements.

Noises can be heard further into the chamber. The group stalls for as long as they can, hoping the copper will come help, but they are forced to attack to prevent the mind flayer from taking its prize. Combat ensues. A second mind flayer has a dramatic entrance, riding atop a giant falling icicle which shatters, spraying the party with shards of ice. He is then promptly trounced.

The Tiki Man teleports atop the frozen white dragon and throws his powers around from there. Astrarian flies in at this point, fighting a devil knight which is clinging to his belly. They crash into a wall and trade blows for a moment before moving onto another room, Astrarian sending a spray of acid down on some ogres in an attempt to help. The acid begins to burn through the ice entombing The White, the tip of a wing poking through, twitching.

After a decisive blow is struck on him, he calls upon the power of Hadar, dread star of madness, growling an extra huge tentacle out of his shoulder, summoning tentacle doom from the ground, and reanimating his fallen ogre minions. He then plunges his new appendage through the ice and into the dragons chest, ripping out The Whites heart. The castle begins to rumble. Damn load baring villains. The party continues to fight as more and more chunks of the ceiling fall.

The Tiki Man attempts to devour the heart but it is stolen from his grasp by Tempest just before a large chunk ice crashes down, killing the mindflayer. Astrarian flys back into the room, the devil knight having caught a chain sword into the copper’s hide, dragging behind and whipping his other weapon at the dragon. A spell thrown by the party knocks the devil into a chunk of debris, its sword coming unlodged. Along with Astrarian, the party escapes the collapsing castle, then being carried off in a broken wagon by the dragon. On the way Tavar is caught up on his past life, or at least the portion of which the party knew him for, being a staggering 3 weeks.

Taking shelter in the Tiki Man’s lair, the party recuperates and attempts to remove the brain slugs from their comrades, both who have fallen unconscious. Investigation points towards the brain slugs not being the traditional mind flayer tadpole, as without the presence of an elder brain, young could not be produced. It is learned that these slugs are some sort of experiment the Tiki Man had created. Instead of creating more illithids, these merely take control of a host body, steering it around as a puppeteer.

After some thinking Daelock inacts a plan to remove the slugs from his comrade’s minds. The gnome uses his powers of illusion to create in Vorastrix’s mind the fealing of being in raging inferno. Vorastix being highly resistance to fire seems unfazed, the brain slugs feels as though it needs to escape the body before it burns, begins to wriggle out of Vorastrix’ ear canal where it is caught and jarred.

A similar tactic is used on Lucif. Instead of fire, Daelock tries to implant the vision of dying in the swordmage’s mind, forcing the brain slug to want to escape the dying body. This succeeds in making the brain slug leave, but causes Lucif into cardiac arrest. Intervention on Tavar’s part prevents the eladrin from dying.

The party discusses their next step. The learn that they must kill the colossus guarding the black pyramid in order to be able to escape, and that it was once done before. The library on the north east side of town is the party’s best bet of learning anything.

Tavar notices a key in his pocket. The others inform him that it’s a key to the merchant’s shop. Deciding to grab a few things to aid them, Tavar and Tempest visit the shop. Upon arriving they hear a loud commotion as something large thrashes about the shop. The Halfling from the jungle has captured a large beast is attempted to sell it to the merchant. Tavar immediately recognizes the beast at Surly, his rage Drake from his most recent past life and angrily reclaims the beast from the Halfling.

The party rests and plans their next move. The next morning they set out for the library, leaving Vorastrix and Lucif to be watched by Astrarian. The library is surrounded by the remains of an academy, rubble created perhaps from some battle. The library, however, is untouched. Entering the library, the party is greeted by a small spheroid construct acting as a librarian. After directing the party to books on various matters, the librarian informs the party that no pets are allowed, and begins the attempt to remove Surly from the building. The best it can do is repeatedly roll into the beast’s foot, failing to even become a nuisance to the drake. I swift kick to the construct sends it hurdling out the door and down the front steps of the building.

Free to investigate the library without interruption, the party delves into a section dedicated to Karavakos himself. The books appear written at least a hundred years after Karavakos’ conquering of the world, everything there claiming him to be a great ruler. Realizing they will only find propaganda, the party moves deeper into the library past a pair of locked doors into a much larger section.

The books here are not labeled, the covers blank, inside each page only contains one or two letters, placed in various places among the pages. The books give off a hint of magic. Sure that it is a puzzle, Daelock quickly a number of theories but ultimate fails to derive any meaning from the books. As the party moves along the upper levels of the library, a figure emerges from a side room, immersed in a large tome he is carrying. The party recognizes this figure as an aspect of Karavakos. Looking up from his book, the aspect notices the party, the group seeing that half of the tieflings face has been warped into some obscene facet of wrongness. The aspect leaps from the balcony and attempts to flee a spell from Daelock blinds him, halting the tieflings progress.

A pair of robed creatures, large eyed and mouthless, enter from the room Karavakos previously occupied and join the fray, quickly felling Buzart with their powerful magics and swordplay. The party refocuses their efforts onto the two newcomers as Karavakos shakes off the magic blinding. Seeing his allies have come, Karavakos makes for the stairs to join the battle. At this point, a cloaked figure phases through the wall adjacent to the balcony. In a blur, the figure dashes towards Tavar. With a flurry of blows it has the cleric pinned and stunned. It whispers in Tavar’s ear taunts, calling the cleric, “Old friend”. His hood slips off, revealing him as a Rakshasa.

With only two party members no incapacitated, things look grim. The new combatant plunges his twin daggers deeper into Tavar, bringing the cleric to the edge of unconsciousness. A deft blow from Tempest sends the Rakshasa rolling in pain, releasing Tavar who is then free to heal himself and Buzart, who angrily stands up and rejoins the fight. Tempest notices that the Rakshasa has dropped a dagger, her dagger. She reclaims it and uses it against assailant, blinding him with his own blood. The new figure speaks to Tempest, claiming that he should have killed her when he had the chance. Still blind, he gracefully tumbles back and then phases through the wall.

After a hard battle, the final blow is struck on the aspect of Karavakos. The tiefling loudly claims that he cannot be slain just before his head explodes (there indeed existing a button inside people’s heads that cause that). A shadowing substance claws its way from the corpse and flies off towards the pyramid in the center of town.

The hooded figures stand down. They have no wish to die, and claim to serve the party in their master’s absence. They are the keepers of this place, knowledge eaters. From them the party learns that this section of the library is filled with books created from the souls of those who have died in the Pyramid of Shadows, their secrets only showing themselves to those they want.

The party ends this episode entering the head office of the library.

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jackfremont

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