As the group rested after their long fight with the forces of Yarnath, they each noticed something unsettling: they appeared to cast darker shadows than normal, their torches appeared to burn less brightly, fleeting shadows could be seen in their peripheral vision and images of flowing darkness and anguished souls filled their dreams. They did not speak of their observations.
Morg and Gwyn found the wounds they had suffered from the mummy’s attack were particularly painful, but otherwise there didn’t appear to be any lasting ill effects. Morg and Vinara felt particularly refreshed after resting near the seed of the Tree of Life. After their rest, the companions headed out to find Castri and the recover another piece of the Crown of Dust.
They were able to pick up the trail of slither and although it had several hours head start, they pushed hard and were able to catch up to it in the night, making their approach safer. As they approached, they were awed by its massive size. Turrets and sharp spires rising crookedly from the mekillot shell structure. Several shapes could be seen moving on top of most of the towers. Gwyn couldn’t remember many of the details of her conversation with her associate Kivrin of the Veiled Alliance, but she remembered that approaching from the front would be suicide.
The group decided to approach from the side and scale the monstrosity and enter from the roof of one of the read towers. The approach was not easy and Kelvor and Merric quickly fell behind Gwyn, Chai-Tak and Morg, who easily reached the top of the tower, with Vinara not far behind.
Gold Tower Top
A top the tower, Gwyn, Morg and Chai-Tak came face to face with a small contingent of Dray who were startled to see the adventurers hop over the edge of tower. The commander and the troops rushed forward to engage once the initial surprise wore off. One held back and began using arcane magic to attack.
A fierce but brief battle was had atop the tower. Most of the group took some injuries but the dray were defeated. With the top secured, the group propped up their defeated enemies and took a short rest, which was interrupted by another dray defiler who emerged through a trap door in the floor of the tower top. Vinara’s Heartwood Spear proved to be very capable of defeating defilers and with each death, the spear appeared to grow and strengthen.
The remainder of their rest was undisturbed, and Gwyn was able to better sense a strong aura of magic coming from the central tower of Slither. They also could not see any paths along the back of Slither leading into the tower. They couldn’t see anything on the roof of the tower, some 15 feet away, and decided to explore it rather than continue down into the gold tower. Chai-Tak and Morg made the leap with relative ease, carrying a rope across the gap.
Ritual Tower Top
The crenelated tower top was strewn with humanoid bones, some still fresh with gnawed meat. Among the older bones, thick spider webs could be seen. In the deck at the center of tower is an opening onto a set of spiral stairs. Four statues of elf raiders with crossbows stand at silent attention surrounding the stairs.
As Chai-Tak was beginning to tie off the rope, a gravelly voice spoke, “The master will not be pleased at this disturbance.” Appearing out of thin air, a tembo appeared and raked Morg with its claws. At the same time the four statues turned and let loose crossbow bolts at the mul and Thri-Kreen, with some of the bolts striking true. To make matters worse, large, fist-sized hairy spiders appeared out of every nook and cranny, making the roof treacherous.
The rest of the party hurried over quickly to help the pair against the vile creature. Only Merric had difficulty in making the crossing, nearly falling in the process. Gwyn’s fire magic was effective against the swarm of spiders, but it drew the attention of the tembo, who savagely bit into her, draining some of her life energy in the process. The tembo proved a challenging foe, but the groups experience fighting such creatures aided them and they were eventually able to defeat it, drive off the spiders and break the statues which continued to fire the crossbows at the party during the fight.
Fortune smiled on the group and they were able to tend to their wounds without interruption. From the floor below they could hear some scuffling sounds but see very little. Gwyn was certain that a source of the magic she detected was coming from below them in the tower, but she couldn’t be certain of its exact location or precise nature.
Kelvor was the first to head down to the next level. The spiral staircase ended in a chamber, descending no further. He could see a dank, gloomy chamber layered in shadows, dimly illuminated by flickering candles. One section of the room appeared to be closed off behind bars. Opposite the barred cell was a room without a door. On the forward side of the tower a magic circle appeared to be inscribed on the floor, and opposite that a shaft leading down. The floor of the entire level was littered with corpses in various states of decay.
All appeared clear, and Kelvor yelled up for his companions to come down. Just then a pair of zombies rose from the floor and charged Kelvor, darkness engulfed his, blinding him as the zombies began to bite at him. Gwyn headed down the stair to a grisly sight, a dozen or so zombies had stood up and were beginning to move towards where Kelvor had disappeared into darkness.
Gwyn, followed closely by Morg and Chai-Tak, were able to cut down a number of zombies, but Kelvor fell to the hordes. From the shadows emerged another dray who conjured up a blast of burning salt. He charged at Morg, pushing him back towards the shaft. Although he was wounded, the dray was able to force Morg over the edge, who fell down the shaft. Gwyn used her magic and the dray was knocked into the shaft as well. He was able to hold onto the edge, but a quick shot by Chai-Tak’s bow sent his body into the depths.
Vinara’s magic was able to get Kelvor onto his feet, just as the last of the zombies was finished off. The party approached the shaft that Morg had fallen into…