A few moments earlier…
Morg landed hard on the floor beneath the shaft. The room he was now in was covered in the remains of prisoners dropped from above and left for dead. Although most had decayed to bones and powdered carcasses, some relatively intact corpses remained. On either side of the shaft’s detritus stood two statues of elf raiders holding crossbows, similar to those encountered at the top of this tower. The central chamber held all manner of strange equipment scattered on tables and shelves, including several chairs with restraints; tow of them holding corpses that remain upright because of the chair’s numerous straps. In the center of the chamber, a circle of sigils on the floor casts a green radiance.
Morg got to his feet, careful to avoid several pressure plates that were likely linked to the elf statues. As he did so, a half-dozen zombies rose from the ground and moved towards him. Accustomed to fighting against mobs from his days in the arena of Gulg, Morg moved quickly cutting down the zombies quickly. So hungry were the zombies that they attempted one last desperate bite even as they were hacked apart.
Vinara was the first to descend into the chamber from above, quickly followed by the rest of her allies. No sooner had they all arrived then three figures appeared from thin air on the far side of the room. Two large, armored skeletons flanked a tall bearded Half-Elf… none other than Castri. Before anyone in the party could react the skeletons took up a defensive position and, with a hateful glint in his eye, Castri drew arrows and started firing on the party.
Vinara and Gwyn acted quickly to close the distance and attack the skeletons inflicting many wounds, but unable to take down them down. Vinara used her primal magic to bolster Gwyn’s health during the battle, as the previous fights had exhausted the Elf. Castri’s arrows struck true on Morg and the mul was taken down twice during the fight but not before he was able to separate Castri from his skeleton guards. Merric was able to move around the guards and struck a serious wound on Castri.
His advantage of range taken away, Castri was quickly overcome by the party and eventually knocked out by Vinara. The group decided that they couldn’t just kill Castri and they wanted to know more about what was going on. They removed his gear and weapons, including an odd looking short sword which they gave to Merric, and restrained him in one of the chairs.
A quick search of the room revealed many strange devices, several vats filled with foul chemicals and a number of books that appeared to be books on magic theory, specifically that related to necromancy. Gwyn burned the books to prevent their dangerous pages from ever being read again, while the others interrogated Castri.
Castri appeared to have been won over by the promises of power from Yarnath regarding the return of Ul-Athra. He relished the thought of the great worm’s return, the destruction of the dragon and the power over the city-states he would have. Although his friends didn’t want to believe that Castri had those beliefs, they could not deny what he had become. None could bring themselves to harm him further, and so the knocked him out and left him strapped to the chair.
A treacherous spiral staircase led further down into the tower. The chamber they came to was bare of any decoration except a magical circle in the floor. Three sets of doors provided entry further into the tower; two single doors and a double door.
Morg and Kelvor moved quickly through the double doors, not wanting to delay any longer inside the tower. It appeared as if all the doors opened into a larger chamber. The room was painted with a single bizarre scene: the body of a massive snake depicted on the wall, completely surrounding the room. On the snakes head, which was more human than ophidian, rested a glowing crown. The snake’s tailed coiled inward along the floor from the wall and rose like a stinger in the center of the chamber. The stinger formed a stone pedestal topped with a crystal dome. Several stone chests were arrayed along the far wall.
As they moved into the chamber, out of the shadows three figures emerged. The smell of roasted meat was overpowering and the zombies gave off a dull red light as bits of ash and charred flesh. Morg and Kelvor moved to engage them quickly. Morg landed a massive blow with his axe, nearly decapitating the zombie, but the creature was imbued with such power that it continued to attack the group. Although they were not powerful, the party discovered that upon their death, they exploded into a dangerous cloud of hot acidic gas.
Severely burned by their encounter with the zombies, the party took a moment to rest and treat their wounds. Merric and Gwyn were able to deactivate a trap they detected and examined the contents of the chests. Inside they found several pieces of magical gear and a dozen gemstones. As they began to look around the tower for another exit, a flash of light alerted them to arrival of several creatures in the magical circle.
Yarnath the Skull
In the center of the circle, flanked by two more of the guardian skeletons, was a creature that appeared to be a mul in life. Upon his head was a golden crown set with a red gem His appearance left no doubt as to his nature as an undead creature or his name… Yarnath the Skull. With a wave of his hands several corpses emerged from the floor forming a line between him and the party.
Gwyn worked her magic to distract their foes and Morg and Vinara seized the initiative moving up and cutting down several of the zombies. To their horror, the creatures hands continued to move and try to grapple them despite the destruction of their body. The majority of the zombies were destroyed when Yarnath unleashed a powerful blast of necrotic energy, injuring most of the party and destroying Bear and Vinara’s spirit ally.
A vicious battle ensued with the party forced to work together like never before in order to survive the onslaught of Yarnath’s attacks. Gwyn narrowly avoided death several times aided by Vinara’s healing and her emerging draconic nature. Vinara revived her allies and was able to land a blow with her Heartwood Spear severely injuring Yarnath and weakening him. Kelvor kept the fight focused on him which allowed the others to move into good positions and wear Yarnath down. Merric’s new sword prevented Yarnath from healing for the majority of the fight while Chai-Tak’s bow, recovered from Castri, was able to consistently strike his foe.
They were finally able to defeat Yarnath, but the fight left Gwyn on the floor with mortal injuries. They were able to stabilize her and recover the crown. The mobile fortress lurched to a halt when Yarnath was slain and sounds of his raiders panicking and fleeing could be heard. Kelvor recovered the Crown and they left using the commotion as cover. They headed into the desert, pleased to be alive and in possession of the Crown.
After a long rest in a small oasis, the group headed out to the north, hoping to make it to Kled as quickly as possible.