Part 2: The Tower of Black Flame
Mahin examines the door to the tower. Bends in front of the lock and with a click opens the door into the tower.
The room beyond the alley doors is about 40 feet square, with a 15-foot ceiling. This chamber was obviously once a stable for mules; it still smells faintly of their dung, and has rusty, crumbling tether-rings set into the walls on the left and right. The room is dark, illuminated only by the light through the open doors. A closed stone door with a metal pull-ring handle stands at the west end of the room’s back wall, and there is a trapdoor in the floor near the middle of the back wall.
Along all four walls are heaped large, dusty barrels and crates that look as if they’ve been sitting undisturbed for some time; there are dozens of them, and they’ve been stacked rather untidily in groups that form walls about five feet high, a little way out from the stone walls behind them.
Standing in the centre of the room is a ten-foot-tall metal statue of an armoured minotaur with a trident in its hand. Its free hand is open and raised in a “stop” gesture as it faces the party. Around its neck on a fine chain hangs a wooden sign that reads: “Go back or perish.”
Beyond the statue, six human skulls with glowing eye-sockets hover in the air about five feet off the ground and ten feet or so in front of the far wall. They gaze intently at Maheen.
Maheen slides slowly into the room. The skulls stare at her as she enters. She carefully moves towards the minotaur statue. Arcandur eyes the skulls worriedly, hesitating at the door. Jorta slowly moves in behind Maheen as she carefully checks around for any signs of danger. The skulls begin travelling around the room, approaching different characters as they move through the room. Maheen ignores them and calmly moves towards the minotaur statue. One of the skulls sinks down and hovers above Alena. She takes one of her swords and stabs at it but the weapon just travels through the skull. Any attempts to speak with it result in the skull’s jaw replies wordlessly. Manalesi and The Fish enter the room, the druid’s curiosity growing over the strange skulls.
Maheen makes it to the statue and begins to examine it to see if there is anything unusual about it. Her hands move forward to touch its leg and as it does the leg shimmers to life under her touch. She is caught by surprise as the huge trident of the minotaur stabs at her, slashing her across her side.
Alena dives forward to Maheen’s side and unleashes her short swords but the creature is surprisingly agile. It manages to move its leg out of the way before she can hit home. Jorta moves forward with her axe in hand and also strikes at the creature and where she hits a part of its skin flakes off revealing a cavity beneath it. Maheen strikes back at the monster with her rapier and as she hits it more of its clay skin flakes off revealing a skeletal body beneath it.
The creature rears back and impales Jorta on its trident. She staggers but the primal rage that she conjures up keeps her on her feet as the trident is extracted. She goes into a mad rage at the statue. Striking at it with her great axe and chipping off more of its outer covering.
Manalesi draws his scimitars and wades into the battle slashing at the beast. Both of them missing as it quickly withdraws its leg from the attacks. The Fish runs forward circling around the enemy and begins to attack it from the rear. His strike hits true he gains its attention. A crossbow bolt from the back of the room hits the statue in its face flaking off some of the clay mask that it wears and displaying the bull’s skull beneath it.
The great statue plunges its trident down upon The Fish cutting his leg but he draws upon his strength and retaliates with more strikes to its torso, knocking away the clay covering that hides its true form.
Finally a crossbow bolt flies through the air and strikes again at the beast’s head, shattering its skull. With that blow the skull and rest of the skeleton fall to the ground, a pile of bones and broken clay.
A search of the room begins and it is not long before Manalesi notices some men hiding behind crates in the corner of the room. They begin to launch daggers in his direction and he retaliates with a whip of thorns that he conjures using his druidic powers. Alena rolls in to protect him and prevents Manalesi from being killed and stabbing one of the men that is rounding on her. Jorta leaps over a set of crates and begins to launch attacks at another of the men. The party quickly overcomes the remaining rogues leaving only corpses in their wake.
Upon the bodies Arcandur finds tattoos in the shapes of seven knives. The barrels are found to be full of food and drinks. Enough to supply a lot of people, or one person for a long while.
Maheen begins to examine the trap door that is in the back of the room but The Fish calls her over to look at a door. She bends over and attempts to open it and as she does so trigger a trap and a snake falls through a hole in the door. It strikes at Maheen but she dodges back. It is quickly killed by Manalesi.
Maheen has a second attempt at the door and it swings open. Just beyond the door, a narrow stairway leads steeply up to the right, climbing up into darkness. There is no light in the stairway, and the air smells of mold and damp.
Maheen hands The Fish a lantern begins to climb the stairs and calls the other party members over to follow him. As he reaches the seventh step a glowing footprint appears farther up on the stair glowing with an eerie greenish-yellow radiance and a voice whispers to him:
The Fish ignores it.
He continues to ignore it and finds himself at the top of the stairs. Maheen stoops at the door and withdraws some tools. She deftly deals with the lock and the door swings open.
The square stone room is the same size and height as the room below. It seems to be divided between storage of personal effects, magical reagents, and a pantry.
To the left of the room are rows of cabinets and wooden shelves. The cabinets are filled with a wide variety of small clay jars. The shelves are crowded with fat glass jars filled with all sorts of things. Among the cabinets stands one whose entire top is a copper sink. A hand pump, identical to the one seen in the room below is fastened to the back of the sink so its spout pours into the sink. To the right sit sacks of flour, a “tower” of six stacked wheels of cheese, and an A-frame of wooden poles from which hang nets of onions and garlic, strings of sausages, and a net holding an open box containing round loaves of bread.
Across the room are two ornate stone doors, side by side. These doors are carved with two different but similar scenes of dragons flying amid clouds, apparently engaged in aerial combat with each other.
Out from behind the stacked cheeses comes a black cat. It stares at at the party, and meows plaintively. Lord Cyril begins to chatter excitedly at the sight of the cat.
The party decides to rest here for a spell. Taking time to bind wounds and search around. While looking through jars Arcandur finds a key.
Maheen closely examines one of the doors but as she is considering touching it The Fish calls her away to look at the other. He gets the key from Arcandur and gets Maheen to try it. It enters the lock and opens the door revealing a second staircase. The Fish begins ascending. As he gets half way up a ghostly figure appears from the wall at the top of the stairs. The Fish chooses to ignore it and keeps walking up the stairs. After a few seconds the figure charges down the stairs, through all the characters and explodes into light around Manalesi and is gone.
The Fish calls Maheen up the stairs to the door at the top. She once again makes short work of the lock at the top of the stairs and the door opens.
This square stone room seems to be divided between a living area and a sleeping area. A closed stone door stands on the opposite side of the room. A large wicker basket with a lid stands just to the right of the door. There is a curtained-off alcove in the room’s northeast corner, with a cabinet sink and handpump nearby.
A table and pair of chairs stand in the middle of the room. On the table is an unlit oil-lantern that looks full of oil, flint and steel, a tankard, a fine wineglass, a plate, a bowl, two small eating knives, a pair of forks, and a ladle. Everything’s clean, and you can’t see any food.
In the middle of the south wall, curtains hanging from the ceiling enclose a large triangular bed that has posts at its three corners, supporting a heavy cloth canopy above it. The posts are made of gilded wood. They are carved to show multiple snakes coiling up each one. The wooden serpents are posed with their wide-jawed heads raised to spit or bite.
The party search the room and find a chest under the bed containing 120gb, 250sp, a vial containing a clear liquid and a small silk pouch with three garnets in it.