Isis 28th, 638 CF
The city gates closed as dusk fell on the City of Westport. After ten days of hard traveling the companions had arrived at the city exhausted and hopeful that they soon would finish their quest to see the oracle.
The streets were emptying and shops were mainly closed as they journeyed down the main highway away from the gate. The buildings on either side loomed over the cobblestone streets. The rows of houses were all connected to each other with an occasional dark alley in between. Many of the building’s front facades were dominated by large windows that displayed trade goods to be had for the right price. Brak was fascinated with one such shop that had books and maps on display. The illiterate barbarian seemed to mark its location after a staring in wonder for a moment before turning back to the party.
Lamplighters were busy and small pockets of locals whisked by on their way home as the party searched for a place to rest.
They spotted a small tavern “The Hungry Sage”. It was part of a long row of houses only a few blocks from the gate. The small crowd gathered inside and out made it appear like a popular stop. Osk objected to staying in any “fairy, elf loving, magic, place” and so the weary party pressed on in search of the “Haft & Hammer” that was recommended by the Captain of the Guard, Isobel Cynewyn. Osk grabbed a young boy running home for dinner and paid him a gold piece to have him show the party the way to the Haft & Hammer.
The young freckled faced boy took them towards the empty market square through the temple district with its spires and golden domed temples and shrines. The market was all but deserted when they passed through. A few vendors were still packing up their unsold wares, everything from fruits, goats, and weapons could be seen.
From the empty market square the young escort showed them up into the North Hills district of the city that was filled with expansive private estates. Each estate boasted walls, gates, and well manicured lawns. The estates themselves were large two and three story stone structures. As with the lower parts of the city all was quiet here except for the odd guard patrol or carriage that sped by hurrying from business in town. Looming behind the North Hills district behind imposing stone walls was the Baron’s keep. Towers soared to the sky and flags whipped in the early spring wind along the parapets. The keep stood at the highest point in the city and had an eagle’s eye view of the sprawling metropolis. It was said by the citizens of Westport that Baron Megnew was a fair administrator of the city, regardless of his reputation, he appeared to live well.
The Haft and Hammer was found amongst these sprawling estates and was nothing like any tavern the party had visited before. Just after the young boy departed with his gold piece the party was assisted by a cadre of stable hands that whisked the horses and ponies off for care. The inn itself looked like one of the estates that it bordered, a large three story stone structure with an open central courtyard and balconies along the upper floors.
The interior was just as fine. The lower floors were made of stone and were covered with ornate rugs, a sweeping stair case led to the upper floors that wrapped around and looked down on the main dining area. The entire chamber was well lit by chandeliers and fireplaces. The tables and chairs were polished and well cared for and in them sat a refined clientele. Men wore hose, frilly shirts, and fine leather boots. The ladies were dressed in silken ball gowns. The chamber was filled with music from a trio of bards that strummed out a lovely melody. Into this chamber came “our heroes”, mud splattered, unshaven, dirty, and smelling of the long road. If their appearance didn’t frighten the diners Osk no doubt did when he began shouting loudly about finding a “whore” for the evening. The appalled majordomo tried to quietly get the entire lot up to rooms and baths quietly and with the help of the paladin he somewhat succeeded.
Sariya mortified over the Osk’s display spent her time on her suite’s balcony looking at the stars and wondering how she came to travel with a pair of dwarves and a hodgepodge of humans from across the realm. She would have been even more horrified to have seen a semi-clothed Osk, wearing only his thigh length tunic walking back down into the dining area to inquire on getting some female help for his bath, and although he employed his “inside voice” as instructed by Krett when asking about delicate matters he still caused most of the remaining customers to pass out or leave.
After Osk had bathed he and fellow dwarf, Forg, found a table in the deserted dining hall and shared ale and information about the Darksteele clan and Forg’s upbringing in Brie.
Krett saw that his new squire, Kalf, was outfitted in proper clothing before instructing him on the best way to maintain weapons and armor as well as the benefits following a god like Morganti.
Phariss used his time to speak with the bards and learned that the Tower of the Elephant was located in the temple district and was rumored to have been built in a single night over 300 year ago. He also learned that the wizard, Telemachus, saw no-one and was rumored to be more demon than man.
Dagdha 1st, 638 CF
The next morning the party set out for the market, each person had a list of items they sought. When they arrived at the market square the found it filled with people, thousands, probably over ten thousand. In the center of the square looming down over the sea of humanity (and dwarf-kind) was a statue to the Arapeshian Emperor, Christopher the Great.
Upon arriving in the square the party found a money changer, a skinny man with a rat like face named Amelio Buccini, who for a small fortune exchanged their coins and gems for whatever they desired.
After seeing to the money each party member headed off in different directions.
Krett and his squire looked for some basic supplies and a horse for Kalf. Sariya sought out an alchemy shop. Forg hoped to find a pair of war dogs to train. Brak found the map dealer and purchased a large volume of fairly recent maps of Tellus-Aboreah as well as selling his old plate armor for a more loose fitting breastplate. Phariss and Osk looked for weapons and armor before as the locals called “the great flash” took place.
Impulsive as usual Osk handed a gold wand with a sapphire tip to Phariss and told him to say “drumlar” (which happened to be the command word). Osk confessed that he did know what it would do but that it was “illusion magic”. Phariss pointed the wand out to the crowd and spoke the word. A twenty foot multi-colored cone shot out of the wand and stunned a half dozen passers by and caused a panic among all of the nearby shoppers. Soon the city guards came running and Osk was in custody, moments before Phariss slipped into the shadows.
Osk spent the rest of the day at the Scales of Justice, first in a holding cell and then being brought forth before a magistrate. He was fined and an official edict was issued against his future use of magic with in the city.
The day wasn’t completely wasted for the dwarf, he did make contact with an old drunk in the holding cell named Buryal that claimed to know how to get into the Elephant Tower.
Osk arranged to meet Buryal that night at a tavern near the docks called the Broken Coin.
When Sariya was finished shopping she journeyed up to the Tower of the Elephant and attempted to gain entry by knocking on the front gate, but found that wizard did not take visitors.
Krett and Kalf also journeyed by the Tower as they went towards the Temple of Morganti. While walking up to the temple district they passed the caravan yard and witnessed a massive Makkah caravan circling about with a Molndai caravan. A crowd had gathered to watch and the two of them did the same. Afterwards they spent time at the temple were Krett paid his tithe and spoke with a cleric. They heard more tales about Telemachus and his tower. Rumors of flying demons above the tower at night and monstrous roars from behind the limestone walls.
Late in the day Brak, Sariya, Farrouk and Forg had helped move the parties belongings to a rented estate in the North Hills. It was perfect for providing more privacy. Brak took to sleeping outside under the stars.
That evening the party discussed strategy and Brak, Phariss, and Osk departed to meet Buryal at the Broken Coin.
The Broken Coin was a dive bar in a seedy section of town, close to the docks its customers consisted of sailors, cutthroats and drunks. The trio found Buryal, already drinking, in a dark corner. The old rogue offered a deal to the party. If they helped him steal a valuable poison, green lotus, from the Makkah caravan he would tell them how to get inside the tower. The party was unsure of dealing with him and with such a deadly poison. After a quick discussion outside they decided to charm Buryal with potion slipped into his drinking cup in hopes of getting the information out of him without making a bargain to turn over the poison to him.
The charm was successful and Buryal spun a tail of hatchways and lions and how to use the green lotus to their advantage. Buryal also warned that the caravan would be leaving in the morning and the opportunity to steal the poison was short.
It was decided that Phariss would go alone to the caravan yard and steal the poison. They planned in secret not telling Krett or his squire. When Forg found out he objected saying that the poison should be handled by the city guard not them. Forg was ignored and Phariss left near midnight traveling through back alleys under the cover of a moonless night.
When he arrived in the caravan yard the Makkah had pulled there wagons into a tight circle and placed the largest of them in the center. It was the one Buryal had claimed held the poison. Phariss cast invisibility on himself and made his way silently across the open yard to the outside of the wagon circle. He spotted two or three guards milling about and the dim light of a few small fires, but nothing else. He made his way around to the back side of the caravans and slipped through towards the center. He found the ladder on the side of the central caravan and climbed it quickly. At the top he found a hatchway in the roof, locked. He looked it over quickly for traps and then tried to slide the latch back. To his horror it the metal scrapped loudly as it was slipped out. The sentries on duty stopped their discussion and one cautiously approached the central wagon. The guard seemed afraid to get to close. He gave a quick glance and then went back to his friends. Phariss slowly let out his breath and decided to peek inside. First he threw a steak he had brought with inside, hoping that if some beast was below it would enjoy that snack instead of him. The steak landed with a wet thwacking noise. Phariss didn’t like that. He peered inside and saw the single largest snake he’d ever come across. The massive serpent was wrapped around the a small chest placed at the center of the large wagon. Thankfully it was still asleep. Realizing it was up to him he slowly let himself down and quietly landed in the center of the wagon. He scooped up the small chest and then sprang to the wall over the sleeping serpent. With no rope at all he scaled the wagon walls to the porthole above and into the night air. He didn’t pause long and soon was making his way back to the estate.
Later, Phariss would recall that he had forgotten to throw the latch on the wagon and in the days to come a massive snake was known to terrorize Westport….
Back at the estate Phariss opened the small chest and revealed a small pouch of woven gold thread. Inside powdered green lotus. After risking his life retrieving it Phariss turned the poison over to Krett. Krett consulted Sariya who informed him that if it was immersed in water the poison would be destroyed. Krett quickly disposed of it.
The rest of the evening was spent planning their assault on the tower. It was decided that they would scale the walls and slip under the cover of the trees. To keep the rumored lions at bay Osk would cast a protective spell. Once they were close enough to the tower Sariya would use her rope skills to throw a grappling hook to the top. They would scale the walls and enter into the tower from above.
Dagdha 2nd, 638 CF
The next day was spent gathering the necessary supplies for the assault and preparing to leave town quickly afterwards.
Against Forg’s wishes it was decided that the quickest and safest way out of town in the middle of the night would be to slip out on a boat through the harbor. Osk and Phariss journeyed to the docks and found a ship captain willing to ask no questions and get them and all of their goods out of Westport.
When the two of the returned to the estate they found that Brak had spent part of the day practicing with his axe and new breastplate amongst the manicured trees and gardens of the estate. Many of the trees were little more than stumps.
Also waiting for Phariss outside the gate was a distinguished man, tall over 6 feet, think mustache wearing a leather jerkin and a flowing reddish cape. He introduced himself as Magnus Mott the executor of Phariss’s grandfathers will, Sir Rycard Rend of Brie.
He informed Phariss that his grandfather had passed away and that he had been searching for him for sometime when he heard word that he was on the road to Westport through a friend at the Bay of the Moon Tavern. He presented Phariss with an official writ and instructed him to see the magistrate in Brie for the deeds to his inheritance which included an estate in the city as well as one in the country side. Thunderstruck at the realization he had family Phariss was uncommonly quiet and soon was left wishing he had asked more of the stranger before he departed.
The party readied for a quick exit from Westport sending Kalf with their belongings to the ship.
When night fell the made their way quietly through the streets to the tower. After pacing it off they climbed the outer wall. Krett was the first up and warned the others of glass that had been left along the top of the wall. Everyone managed to get to the top. Phariss found out the hard way that glass was also scattered along the base of the wall.
Once inside the outer circle they noted that the trees has wind chimes hanging from them and water fountains could be seen to either side through the trees. The inner wall was covered over with vines and would be easier to climb. Before the party could climb the second wall a pair of sentries came through the woods. They never encountered the party, Osk instead cast Hold Person on them both and then the party bound and gagged them.
The inner wall proved more difficult to cross over than originally thought. The vines were sentient and thrashed out thorny tendrils when the party approached. Forg was struck and quickly cut himself free with his broadsword. The party then attacked the bushes with the ferocity of angry gardeners. In the middle of thrashing the plants Sariya quaffed a sip of an oily potion and belched fire on the last plant.
The shouts of other guards could be heard as the fire smoldered and spread. The party climbed over the newly cleared part of the wall and into the inner courtyard.
Inside the inner wall Osk cast his protection from cats spell. He did so just in time because soon the party was surrounded by six angry lions. The lions were unable to breach the magic protecting the party as they made their way across the inner courtyard to the base of the tower. The tower was encrusted gemstones over its entire surface and sparkled in the moonlight. With one amazing throw Sariya flung the rope up to the top of the tower where it held tight. One by one the party scaled the wall. Before the second member was to the top a gong was sounded and soldiers could be heard assembling.
Before the soldiers could reach them all of the party was at the top of the tower.
At the top they found the tower held more riches then they could ever had imagined. The walls were covered in priceless stones and the doors made of solid gold.
The top of the tower held but one entrance. Outside the golden door the party found the skeletal remains of a man who had tried to enter into the tower. He has weathered to bones. They did find a rope under him that burned the paladin when he tried to lift it from the ground. But they had little time to theorize on why as the gong below reminded them that time was short.
Pulling open the door they found a room filled with jewels. Osk entered into the chamber and was pounced upon by a gigantic spider. Osk evaded the spider and Brak’s mighty thews soon cleaved it in two.
The jewels were captivating. Osk couldn’t resist and snatched up a few priceless necklaces. Phariss’s face glowed with the thought of all that loot. But they had no time. The party pressed on through the door to the stairs. The gong was louder now.
They hustled down to the floor below and entered into a large domed chamber. In the chamber they found the alien oracle. The being was like nothing they had seen. A mans body, of large proportions with the head of an elephant, or at least what appeared to be an elephant.
Yag-Kosha, the Oracle
It spoke to them. It could not see. Tears filled its vacant eyes. It spoke of a long life on a star far off. It said it was called Yag-Kosha. It claimed it once was worshiped by humans long ago but for the last 300 years it had been a slave to Telemachus. The wizard had used it to build this tower and do many unthinkable things. It made a bargain with the party. It would give answer to their questions if they would pull forth its heart and drain the blood over an immense red gemstone before presenting the stone to Telemachus. It only hoped for the freedom of death. He warned the party to get away quickly afterwards.
The party agreed and gave the oracle the question. The oracle thought for a moment and then said “The ebonstone may only be destroyed by journeying beyond mortal realm to the land of death. There the one who wielded it must be freed and the stone ground beneath his feet.” The oracle claimed there was no other way.
With the question answered Brak cut forth his heart and the party took it below to the chamber the oracle told them Telemachus could be found in a deep sleep. As they hurried down the stairs the foundation of the tower groaned. They found Telemachus asleep in his chamber. They called his named as instructed and placed the stone before him. The wizard tried to rise from his sofa but was unable to do so. Slowly his youthful appearance faded and he slowly crumbled to dust aging 300 years in only a few moments. With the death of the oracle its work was undone and just as Telemachus crumbled to dust, so to would the tower. The party made all haste and was still running when the tower came crashing down in a heap of debris.
They didn’t stop to even look back. They found the ship ready and Guy Rialle welcomed them on board the Black Talon as his crew made ready to leave.
Guy Rialle, Captain of the Black Talon
Soon the sails were up and oars pulled the boat out into the harbor. They watched the city fall away as the ship made its way out to sea. They weren’t around to see the shapeless form that emerged from the rubble and fled into the night sky.
Next stop Brie……