Title: The Test
PC Level: 6th
After the events of The Cursed of Kiri-Jolith
, the party makes its way to the bottom of the Garnet Mountains and into Solanthus after a few hours walk. While the group is not batted entry into the city, Sir Plaxus is made the butt of several jokes by the guards (apparently, the city overthrew its knightly rule a decade before and has no love for that organization). Inquiries as to the location of the alchemist (where Beam is supposed to make contact about his Test of High Sorcery on this day) yield surprisingly exact results (although the questionees do not seem like they want to give a minotaur wrong directions and still be in the same area!).
Alchemist Tibias Fane greets the group warmly at his shop and, once Beam identifies himself, leads the group to the back room. Deedra shakes with an unknown fear and cannot go into the room, leaving Beam to take the test with Sir Plaxus and Gundar (i.e. Deedra's player could not make it for this session).
A ring of smooth stones in the "stock room" flashes with magical power when Beam speaks the words provided by Fane. In the next instant, the group finds itself amidst a similar stone circle but is now inside a different room. A young woman soon enters and, after getting Beam's name, escorts the PCs to the library where they are to await Mortran, Beam's administrator for the Test. Several wizards of all three orders are preparing war-packs and speaking excitedly amongst themselves while a single Red Robe lies dozing at a distant table.
The Red Robe is Navek and, upon being awakened, informs the group that the other wizards of the Tower of Wayreth here have learned that the Dragonarmy has acquired all three Promise Flame icons and they are preparing a strike force to take them from the clutches of evil. The party scoffs at this news since they already have possession of the good-aligned icon. However, when Mortran arrives in the room and confirms Navek's news, he examines the PC's icon and, finding it to be cracked, breaks it with little pressure. There is no time to wonder at this as the Mortran lays out the Test.
Mortran warns the non-Wizards that taking the Test is just as hazardous to them as it is to Beam, costing many Wizards their lives. All understand and agree to begin. A doorway is opened in the corner of the library and the PCs walk through to emerge outside at a familiar locale. Here is where the group encountered the horax outside of Thelgaard (see the beginning of module DL 1-4
). Now, Beam has a second chance to save the girl who previously died. Or does he? As the PCs move to protect the farmhouse occupants from the large vermin attack, the girl (although saved from the horax by Beam this time) falls into a sinkhole. She is dragged off by another horax as Beam reaches the hole.
The group descends into the passage and soon arrives at an underground lake where wide flat stones are arranged at differing intervals, jutting from the surface. On the ceiling are stalactites of varying girths, three of which have great holes in their sides to accommodate space within. The group makes plans to cross on the stones and investigate the holes but this proves difficult as stepping on any of the stones causes them to levitate upward! Gundar and Beam split up while Sir Plaxus watches from shore (his armor being too heavy and cumbersome to allow for stone jumping). Beam successfully picks the stalactite where the girl has been taken but the horax who snatched her waits within. The wizard manages to defeat the vermin and rescue the girl. When this occurs, a magical portal opens on shore.
Through the portal, the girl vanishes and the PCs find themselves back at Ironrock inside the orphanage they grew up in. This is one of the rest areas provided by the Test and the group takes full advantage of it. A visit from the smithy of Ironrock yields a clue (although the group doesn't realize it yet) to the next part of the Test. He brings a new blend of peach green tea for the PCs to try and then departs. At the end of 8 hours, another portal whisks the group outside of a cave on a small hill.
A centaur lays with a sickly centaur youngling and he pleads for the PC's assistance. A Black Robed wizard poisoned the youngling and the cave entrance (wherein the wizard lairs and undoubtedly has an antidote) is too small to accommodate the creature's size. The wizard was slain when the centaur tortured him for the antidote's location. Inside the cave mouth is a solid stone wall on which are arranged gemstones of different colors in a horizontal line. The center gem, triangular and clear, is where Beam centers a color spray and that causes the wall to open. A maze is next, in which an ogre mage attacks the group but is easily dispatched. At the end of the maze is an door but only Beam makes it through before a wall of flame erupts within the doorway. Inside, the wizard finds a balance atop a stone dais. On one end sits a green vial atop a pile of steel pieces. On the other end sits an orange vial atop a stack of gemstones. After a few attempts to remove the steel and gems (and subsequent arrow traps being sprung), Beam decides to grab both liquid-filled vials after Gundar remembers the smithy visiting with peach green tea (and shouting this information through the doorway). The balance ends are too far apart for Beam to reach so he uses mage hand to grab both vials. The flame wall outside the chamber dissipates and the PCs successfully use both liquids to cure the centaur youngling.
The centaur then says he will watch over the group as it rests from its trial. After the rest, what feels like an earthquake rocks the area. The centaur vanishes and the group experiences a magical flash that leaves them back in the library of the Tower of Wayreth. Navek, the dozing Red Robe, still reclines at a table but now a spear has permanently transfixed the man to that spot! An explosion echoes down the hallway outside the room. The PCs rush out to find a human Dragonarmy warrior, a bozak draconian, and an ugly draconian type they have not yet encountered (proto-baaz). A brief fight ends the enemy threat and the PCs follow the smell of burnt flesh up a flight of stairs. A White Robe meets them at the top but he has been mostly melted into the wall, a sooty haze around his corpse on the wall and floor.
A white portal stands open in the room and, somehow still alive, the White Robe (who is recognized as Mortran) rasps, "Must...close...portal...other side...battle..."
Ghostly draconic hands appear to be physically holding open the gateway from the other side. The PCs dutifully jump through to find two proto-baaz flanking a priest of Takhisis. The ghostly dragon hands are coming from an orb sitting next to the evil priest. After an intense battle, the PCs smash the orb and close the portal, leaving themselves unable, at the moment, to return to the Tower. The group step out of the edge of the treeline they are in to see a great valley before them. On the other side is a mountain on which can barely be seen a cave opening. To their right, a battle is occurring between the Wayreth wizards and Dragonarmy forces. The PCs wisely decide to check out the cave.
Inside, 2 proto-baaz are dispatched and the group finds supplies and a man-made staircase going up. The upper level here appears to be a dead end in a wide chamber but the PCs are suddenly attacked by magical bolts from overhead, revealing that a hidden passage or chamber can be accessed. Trial and error reveals a staircase to this hidden level and a Black Robe is confronted. Before the PCs can slay him, the evil wizard uses the magic of nearby burning braziers to capture each adventurer within swirling bubbles of force. The Black Robe pulls off his hood to reveal--Zurias, Beam's father! Presumed dead after the events of module DL 1-5
, the man thanks Beam for being so gullible and allowing him to trade the real Promise Flame icon for a fake while the young wizard was unconscious in his arms.
Zurias does indeed have all three icons, as feared by the Wayreth Wizards, and is intent on destroying them in a magical ritual, thus robbing Solamnia of hope during the next push of the Dragonarmy. One at a time, the PCs notice a flaw in the force bubble around their persons and are able to stab the slight opening with a weapon to disrupt the field. As Zurias moves to bring reinforcements to him, the PCs manage to subdue him and...
...find themselves back in the stock room of Fane's alchemist shop in Solanthus! A very not-dead Mortran greets them as well and informs Beam that he has passed the Test of High Sorcery. The wizard is given a white robe and a rod of the python. But the Test has not left Beam untouched. Because of his overriding concern for others, Beam now has a facial tic on one side and his hair has turned totally white. All in all, small prices to pay for a step forward in magical knowledge. Beam tries to learn from Mortran what Zurias meant at the Sage Academy when the older wizard said he had to give Beam up for the magic. Mortran says only Zurias knows as the details of every wizard's Test are their's alone to share.
Inside the shop, Deedra greets the group warmly and plans are made as to where to journey next. The neutral Promise Flame icon is supposedly the closest so that seems like a natural next step.