A Series of Unfortunate Rolls

ACT II, EPISODE 7 - THE IVORY TOWER

In a room somewhere far away from the Forgotten Keep, the grimlocks Deetry and Dumock emerged from their teleportation portal angry that they still could not get the upper hand against the adventurers. As they argued and discussed how to separate the party members, Gaius fell through their portal just as it closed and landed at their feet. The paladin was also angry and demanded to know what they wanted from the group, but the grimlocks remained tight lipped and engaged him in battle instead. He was able to kill the sharp tongued Deetry, but as he was doing so Dumock sneaked up behind him and stabbed him in the back between his armor. As he was losing blood and consciousness, Gaius heard a somewhat familiar voice instruct Dumock to put his body in the cellar.

Back at the Keep the next morning, the remaining three adventurers asked Richter to send a messenger to Almamoon to tell Trevor Belmont what had transpired and give him the password to enter the ivory tower. The large man agreed and the group set out for the tower to retrieve their missing friend and find the answers behind all the strange events they had experienced since they had come to this town. They arrived at the tower at dusk and found it jutting multiple stories into the sky, taller even than the last time they had stood outside it. Linny spoke the password “open” and the tower shifted, with the small plank of wood they had seen last time rotating and morphing into a large open door. The three of them entered into a large chamber and almost immediately the door slammed shut behind them and all the lights went out. The raspy voice of the shadowy figure then surrounded them and spoke, welcoming them to the tower devilishly and daring them to solve the puzzles that awaited them.

The lights returned and the group found themselves in the middle of a large room with four pillars topped by torches and a door on the far end imbued with six powerful magic locks. The door would not budge under any circumstances and there were no other doors aside from the one they had entered from, so they were unsure how to proceed. Just then they remembered the first lost journal page they had acquired from Logarth the giant in the Mountains of Yule which was a drawing of a candle being blown out. Taking a guess, Ye’Kan used Mage Hand to snuff out the four torches atop the pillars, and when he was finished one of the six magical locks disengaged and one of the pillars slid to the side and revealed a set of stairs going down.

Descending the stairs, the party entered a dark and grim cellar with two naked and beaten men chained to the wall. The first man was already dead but the second one was still breathing, so Linny approached to heal him but quickly and horrifyingly realized that the man was Gaius, looking drastically different than he did when he jumped in the portal. He seemed to be 15 years older with long hair and a long beard, the left side of his face badly burned, scars all over his body, and his left hand missing. Osborne and Ye’Kan brought him down from the wall and Linny healed him as best she could, but his scars and disfigurements remained. They asked him what had happened since last night, but the paladin just shook his head and did not speak. Ye’Kan dressed him in the extra set of travel clothes he had taken from Iarno Albrek way back in Tresendar Manor and provided him with a spare scimitar while Linny equipped him with her extra set of scale mail armor, and once dressed Gaius stood up unsteadily and walked up the stairs back into the main room without saying a word. The group went to follow him and as they passed the other dead body chained to the wall, Linny noticed he was wearing a necklace. When she looked closer she realized that it was Leon Belmont’s necklace, meaning this man was Leon and, perhaps most disturbingly, he had been dead for a very long time.

Back in the main chamber, Gaius sat down on the ground facing the magically locked door and waited. He still wouldn’t say what had happened, but did manage to mutter “open the door.” Linny and Osborne went to investigate the rest of the room while Ye’Kan stayed with Gaius, who wouldn’t answer the bard’s questions about what was going on and only said “we need to be ready.” On the four pillars, Linny and Osborne found symbols that wrapped around each structure that indicated circles and repetitions, with each one starting and ending with the same door symbol. Linny pressed one of these symbols that was protruding out from the stone, and the door they had entered from creaked open to reveal a long stone hallway and not the forest they had traveled through to get here. With no other options, the party went through the door with Gaius weakly in tow and came to a dead end with some unfamiliar markings on the wall. It was a math puzzle written in the unique coded language of Leon’s journal which asked the party to identify the symbols that added up to the correct number of limbs of a series of monsters. After some debating and calculating, the group made their guesses and instantly heard a click come from back in the main hall. When they returned they found that the second magical lock on the door had become disengaged, and they began to understand what they had to do.

This sequence repeated four more times — they would press the symbol protruding from the pillar, the entrance door would re-open into a new environment each time, and puzzle would await them at the end. First was a boobytrapped path puzzle not too dissimilar from the one they had solved back in the Mountains of Yule; next was a room with two donkey wheels that each turned a dial on the wall a different number of times, which the party had to spin in a specific way to get specific symbols to light up; then came a very large room with four pillars sticking up out of deep pools of water that had to be rotated in a specific order; and finally came a long hallway that separated Linny and Gaius from Osborne and Ye’Kan and forced each pair to communicate and draw symbols without the benefit of seeing what the other was doing. Each puzzle was made easier to solve thanks to the clues on the journal pages that the party had recovered during their mission. After what seemed like hours, the group managed to solve every puzzle and returned to the main room one last time to see the sixth and final lock disengage and the large door swing open.

In this new area, the party saw another huge door in front of them and a hallway leading to a smaller door off to the left. From behind the large door Osborne heard muffled angry voices and some kind of swirling pulsating noise, and from the small door Linny heard weak whimpers and instinctively ran in. Inside were four chained up children, four dead bodies of older victims missing the tops of their heads, and a large pile of small trinkets in the corner. Linny freed and healed the children while Gaius slowly approached the pile, feeling somehow drawn to it. He sifted through the trinkets and found a few non-noteworthy items before pulling out the hilt of a sword with no blade attached, upon which the sense of being pulled in this direction faded. Linny and Ye’Kan spoke to the children, who said that there had been a fifth child with them named Liara—Terra and Leon’s daughter—but a man had teleported in and taken her away. The kids described the man as having pointy ears and wearing a blindfold over his eyes, which surprised the party greatly as it was the exact description of their missing friend Medivh. Linny instructed the children to follow her fox back to Almamoon away from the danger of the tower and tell everyone what had happened. As they left Ye’Kan gathered up all the trinkets in the room and put them in his bag so he could return them once they got back to town.

Once the children were safely outside, the four adventurers approached the remaining large door, which swung open before they could touch it. They entered and saw three figures standing in front of a large swirling vortex in the back of the room — the first figure was Dumock the grimlock, the second figure was larger than a man and was facing the portal with its back to the group, and the third figure was a hooded man. The door slammed shut behind them and a force wall sprung up in front of them, preventing them from advancing any further into the room. The man stepped forward and started to speak, removing his hood as he did to reveal that he was Trevor Belmont. Trevor monologued about how far the party had come based on the trap he had set — he had killed Leon because he was in love with Terra and was given power by his leader Mal’Ganis, then started abducting children as a ruse to bring the adventurers to Almamoon so they could strengthen their minds through a series of puzzles and then have their minds consumed. Before the party could interject and argue, a large tentacle stabbed through Trevor’s chest mid-sentence and killed him instantly. The tentacle retracted into the body of the large figure in front of the portal, who turned to face the group and revealed that he was Mal’Ganis the mind flayer. He asked what they were seeking and Gaius shouted “justice,” upon which his empty sword hilt activated and a blade made of pure light emerged from the handle. In the heat of the moment the paladin jammed the hilt into the stump where his left hand had been, making the light sword an extension of his arm now.

Still trapped behind the wall of force, the party tried to figure out how to advance and battle this final boss. There were four elevated platforms on their side of the room, so Osborne climbed on one with the intention of using it to jump off of, but when he stood on it something else happened. The rogue was teleported away to a dark dimension, where he found himself momentarily alone until he saw his little brother approach and reach out to him. Before he could act, a blade was stabbed through his brother’s chest from behind, spraying blood onto Osborne’s face. Understanding he was in some kind of hallucination, he tried to fight whatever was controlling his mind and successfully broke the spell, instantly returning to the room with the vortex to find that the force wall was now down and his platform had disappeared. The party moved in to attack but the wall quickly went back up, leaving the group to understand that they all had to take a turn on the platforms to break the mind flayer’s concentration on the wall. Linny went second and had to watch her husband and children be slain again in the dark dimension, but managed to shake Mal’Ganis’ hold and reemerge unscathed. Ye’Kan was next and was presented with a vision of his mother who quickly transformed into the Nothic that had scarred the bard back in Tresendar Manor, and the vision was too much for him to overcome — he was still returned to the main room with the wall down, but he was hurt and mentally drained. Last was Gaius, who still felt weak but went ahead anyway and saw his father watch on in disappointment as he himself turned into a chicken and was taunted by his peers from paladin training. Even in his beaten state, however, he managed to shake the mind flayer’s control and return, bringing the force wall down for good.

While the party was dealing with their visions, Mal’Ganis moved to Trevor’s body and consumed the dead man’s entire brain. Once the wall came down the group rushed in and attacked, with Gaius charging at Dumock and everyone else going for Mal’Ganis. Dumock fought back with Gaius’ lava maul, which he had stolen and then burned the paladin with the night before, but Gaius fought through the trauma and killed the grimlock, even breaking the maul along the way. The group had their hands full with the mind flayer but Ye’Kan cast a Thunderwave spell which knocked the monster backwards and into the portal, where he disappeared and all became calm. Linny investigated Trevor’s body for any more clues and took his magic cloak, while Osborne pulled a ring off Dumock that assisted with fighting mind control. As they gathered themselves and prepared to return to Almamoon, however, the portal reopened and grew much bigger, sucking the party into it with sheer force and transporting them all to dark and mysterious new dimension.

They landed clumsily on a single floating platform and saw Mal’Ganis talking to a giant pulsating brain, saying he had done with the brain had wanted and now wanted “the power.” The brain zapped Mal’Ganis, who grew bigger and started glowing as he turned to face the party. The battle continued, with the brain constantly trapping members of the group in prison cubes and deactivating their magic and attack abilities. Once Ye’Kan was trapped in one of these cubes, he took out a piece of chalk and drew the symbol that Leon’s journal had said to use to save your mind, and when the symbol was complete the prison shattered and the bard was no longer affected by the brain’s powers. Gaius destroyed the brain by running over it and dragging his light blade along its surface as he went, which made Mal’Ganis scream angrily and start flying through the air. As he tried to make airborne attacks, the mind flayer was suddenly hit by a fireball that came flying through the portal, followed by another flying figure — the blind elf wizard Medivh Alucard. The fireball stunned Mal’Ganis and sent him tumbling clumsily through the air, so Gaius jumped up and hit him multiple times with everything he had, using his light blade to split the monster down the middle and kill him for good.

The now-five adventurers went back through the portal and returned to the ivory tower, where they questioned Medivh as to what had happened. The wizard said he had left after his strange dream sequence to study and soul search and ended up with some knights in a land completely devoid of all magic abilities. After a while though he was attacked by the pair of grimlocks who said they needed him, and he realized he had to find his friends. He returned to Phandalin but they had already gone, then tracked them to Almamoon and the mountains and the marshlands but was always a step behind them. In his investigations he discovered that one of the missing children named Liara was special, so he figured out how to teleport into the tower to get her out and take her to the knights in the only place he knew was safe for now. He was worried about returning her to Almamoon because she had aged while in captivity like Gaius had and he feared that her mother and the townsfolk would not understand.

The five heroes left the tower and returned to Almamoon, where they found that the fox and the four children they had freed had made it back safely. Ye’Kan took the bag of trinkets to Evermore Tavern for the parents to go through, while Linny took Medivh to Terra to explain what had happened to Liara. They agreed to take Terra to where her daughter was being kept right away, and the mother had no qualms about leaving the horrors of what had happened in Almamoon behind. The trio left town while Gaius, Osborne, and Ye’Kan returned to Lues’ Inn, where they were so tired and relieved to be finished that the little man’s demeanor didn’t even grate on them this time. They went to bed with plans to regroup with Linny and Medivh the next morning, when they would figure out what to do next.

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