- Ki’rok , 8th Level Drow Ranger
- Adabon, 8th Level Wood Elf Fighter
- Vrae’ree , 8th Level Drow Wizard
- Fo, 8th Level Human Monk
- Brûne, 8th Level Human Paladin
- Tharivol, 7th Level Moon Elf Fighter
- Alric, 8th Level Human Paladin
- Deiter, 6th Level Human Fighter (Noble)
- Abernacky, 6th Level Human Fighter
- Tom, 5th Level Halfling Wizard
… Continued from Bowels of the Earth …
PART ONE: DEATH OF THE MAD GOD
Our heroes awoke to the sounds of battle. Rushing downstairs, they looked into the street to see Waterdeep City Guard and Neverwinter Soldiers fighting side-by-side with Shadow Thieves against black-clad Dragon Cultists. In the middle of the conflict strode a powerful looking man. With each swing, he dropped another defender of Waterdeep. The man strode forward, putting boot to the door of the tavern. Stepping through the door, he sneered at our heroes. “I am Cyric,” he growled. “And I believe you have MY SWORD…”
The group gathered near the door, all preparing to attack based on what Cyric would do next. Brûne stepped forward, brandishing his magical shield and calling upon his Divine Sense. The Paladin’s senses confirmed that this was an avatar¹ of the Mad God.
They watched as Cyric opened his mouth, preparing to speak again when suddenly his face twisted into a grimace. He turned back towards the doorway and peered out into the street. They could see that an arrow was sticking out of the Mad God’s back, still quivering in the avatar’s black leather armor. His eyes narrowed as he glared at a Drow standing in the road outside.
Fo moved quickly, focusing his inner Ki into a Flurry of Blows. The monk struck Cyric several times, sending the avatar flying backwards back into the street. As the Mad God struck the cobblestone, arrow shaft sheared off with a loud snap. He slid along the ground, coming to rest at the feet of the Drow.
The Dark Elf didn’t hesitate. He lifted his paired weapons, a sword and dagger, and struck out at the Mad God. The blades flashed in the light of the full moon, and Cyric’s eyes opened wide. He opened his mouth to protest, but he could only gurgle sickly. The Drow stood victoriously as the avatar’s head slid slowly from his body to drop on to the cobblestone.
Cyric was dead.² There was an explosion of green and purple light as energy streaked out of Cyric’s body and rose into the air. Green fire arced into the sky, like a lightning bolt in reverse. His mortal manifestation killed, the god’s power was plunged into the Astral Plane.
At that moment, the tide of the battle turned. Many of the Dragon Cultists simply turned and fled into the darkness. Several others were cut down. The conglomerate of surviving Waterdeep Guard, Neverwinter soldiers, and Shadow Thieves cheered in unison for the Drow stranger.
Turning their eyes to the sky, everyone noticed the strange cloud bank rolling into the city. There was something unnatural about it. But before our heroes could do anything more to investigate the strange clouds billowing into Waterdeep, the Drow stranger rushed into the tavern and smashed a crystal sphere at his feet.
Thick grey smoke filled the tavern room, and as it cleared, our heroes found themselves in transported into a sophisticated drawing room. An exquisite collection of lavish furnishings, artwork, baubles, and knickknacks festoon the room. The wooden floor is immaculate and polished. Driftglobes dot the corners of the room, adding dim illumination. Aromatic herbs burning on a nearby table add a sweet-smelling scent to the air.
PART TWO: A MEETING WITH MAZZANOBLE
Seated at the other side of the room in a large plush chair sat a Drow male. “Welcome to my home,” said the Drow.
“Be at ease. My name is Mazzanoble and I am an agent of the Lords of Waterdeep.” He gestured to the mysterious Dark Elf who had killed Cyric. “And you have already met Ki’rok.”
Mazzanoble went on to explain that the Masked Lord of Waterdeep who sent Vrae’Ree and the others to the Bowels of the Earth intended for them to recover the Sword of Kas because it was an ancient artifact that was being retrieved by the Dragon Cult through some of their Vampire allies. The hope was that they would recover it before Cyric did, and clearly they were successful.
Mazzanoble indicated that he wanted the Sword of Kas placed into a Bag of Holding which the Drow held open. Brûne was distrustful of the Dark Elf for obvious reasons. But in time, the Sword was placed into the Bag and then Mazzanoble placed the Bag into a Secret Chest, explaining that the Sword would now be hidden within the Ethereal Plane in an interdimensional space.
Mazzanoble then cut the meeting short when a young man entered the room suddenly, claiming that Waterdeep was under attack by some kind of giant ice castle. Mazzanoble vanished in a puff of smoke, teleporting away. The young man led our heroes out of the lavish estate. They found themselves in the Castle Ward, the central ward which encompassed Mount Waterdeep and much of the government of the city.
PART THREE: SKYREACH CASTLE
Ultimately, our heroes decided to investigate Skyreach Castle once they saw it drifting slowly above Waterdeep. They would find that the castle was an iceberg which was magically reinforced to be hard as stone. Inside, they discovered that the walls were carved from solid ice and possess the resiliency and texture of stone. The ceilings typically reach 30′ high to accommodate the Giant who built it.
Vrae’ree would later explain to his comrades that eons ago, Cloud Giants built this fortress as a resource during the Thousand Years War where Giants battled Dragonkind. It requires the life-force or spirit of a Giant to operate.
The group determined that there were three main entrances to the castle: a lower gate, a wide cavern in the middle, and a domed archway at the top. They decided that entering in the middle seemed to be their best option.
Once they made their way to the middle entrance, they found that it was a large cave opening cut into the side of the massive flying iceberg. The cave mouth was 40 feet wide. They slowly descended a total of thirty feet westward through the icy tunnels towards what they found to be a huge cavern. They guessed that the cavern might be about 55 feet wide and 65 feet deep.
Here, on the ceiling, there was a large White Dragon. It clung to the jagged ceiling with its claws, snoozing peacefully. At the far end of the cavern they noticed the dragon’s hoard, a pile of gold, silver, copper, and jewels all encased in solid ice.³
The party engaged the dragon in combat, using their number to their advantage. It wasn’t long before they discovered that the dragon was a female, and was carrying a wyrmling on her back. During the battle, the dragon shouted in Common: “How dare you intrude on the lair of the great Glazhael Cloudchaser?!” The dragon put up a ferocious fight, but in the end the party was too much for the creature. It succumbed to attrition, collapsing dead. The wyrmling soon followed, killed by a well placed fireball from Vrae’ree.
Although it seemed like a risk, the party scouted out the remaining sections of the middle caves, and then made camp for a rest. They discovered that the cavern had tunnels to the South and East. East led into a second large cavern that featured a hole in the ceiling large enough for a dragon to swoop in and out easily. To the South, the tunnels dropped another ten feet, and then split into pathways that would lead West and continue South. The Western hall ended at a pair of large doors. The doors were made of one foot thick ice fitted with iron hinges. These doors were 20 feet high (as the ceiling was 30 feet in height) and 8 feet wide. They were definitely sized for Giants and their kin.
Ki’rok also scouted up through the hole in the ceiling of the second cavern. He found that the upper entrance could be accessed by way of a ledge.
The party rested, recovering from their injuries.♦ Adabon was more interested in searching for treasure than resting. He managed to find a magical musical instrument that he was able to chip out of the ice.
After resting, the party followed the passage to the West. They came to the large double doors, and could hear someone or something coming closer. Listening carefully, they positioned themselves to ambush whatever might come through the door. In this case, the doors opened and two young Ogres stepped through, talking about how Griffon meat might taste.
At first, the Ogres just assumed that the “Small People” were Dragon Cultists so they told the party: “You not supposed to be here. All the Dragon Men are supposed to be upstairs.” Fo tried to outwit the Ogres (not a tough feat) and announced that he was a Dragon Lord. This confused both of the Ogres because all of the Dragon Cultist leaders always wore purple, but Fo was not wearing purple. As the two Ogres struggled to comprehend what was going on, Vrae’ree blundered as he was about to say something intimidating. He slipped on the ice, and fell down. “You no look like Dragon Lords,” said the first Ogre as he looked at the other. “Because you not Dragon Lords!” finished the second Ogre. The battle with the Ogres was brutal and quick. The party killed the first Ogre, but allowed the other to live as it groveled and begged for mercy. The two Drow questioned the Ogre, carrying on a conversation between them in Drow Sign Language. They got some information from Ogre, but the youth did not fully understand all the questions. In the end, Ki’rok slit his throat. The adolescent Ogre slumped heavily to the floor, gurgling softly as it died.
Moving through the door, they carefully crept along towards a room filled with a strange green light. They discovered a room dominated by a large raised dias with a huge double throne on top of it. Two Giants sat on the thrones, one male and the other female. They were clearly exhausted and emaciated. Their appearance included a thinning of the limbs, their upper body in a skeletal-looking state with an apparent absence of fat and muscle tone. Their skin was thin, dry and translucent in some areas of the body, to the point that veins beneath the skin were somewhat visible. Their faces were thin and drawn with a hopeless, vacant and distressed demeanor; the eye sockets were sunken, giving the eyes a bulging appearance. The scalp is bony with dry, withering hair.
All around the room, the two Giants were surrounded by beings of various races all in the same terrible condition. There were arranged around the room on similar but smaller chairs, positioned as to be staring blankly at the two Giants.
Vrae’ree mumbled under his breath as he noticed the sunken but familiar face of his mentor – Alrik Halfhand.
And then suddenly, the male Giant in the center of the room coughed. A glob of spit ran down his chin. Weakly, pathetically … he man spoke.
… to be continued …
¹ An avatar was a physical manifestation of a deity on Toril. It was usually significantly less powerful than the deity it represented. An avatar serves as a deity’s alter ego, effectively allowing the deity to be in two or more places at the same time. An avatar is an extension of a deity. The deity senses and knows everything the avatar senses and knows and vice versa. Each avatar counts as a remote location where the deity is sensing and communicating. A lesser deity can have up to five avatars at once, an intermediate deity can have up to ten, and a greater deity can have up to twenty avatars at once. It takes a deity one year to create an avatar or replace a destroyed avatar. The process does not require any special effort on the deity’s part. An avatar must be created in the deity’s own realm.
² The player of Ki’rok, the Drow Ranger, rolled two natural 20’s in a row during his Attack Actions. I have always had a house rule that if a player rolled two natural 20’s in a row during the same action that it was an Instant Kill. Some DM’s might argue that an Avatar is a Legendary creature and should not be susceptible to Instant Kills in any manner but I allowed it to happen. I think that it added a lot of excitement to the table at the time.
³ White dragons seal up their treasures in ice for safe-keeping. It makes it more difficult for rivals and adventurers to steal wealth when it’s covered in a few inches of solid ice.