Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Campaign Notes: DL 1-5

Title: A Timely Interruption
PC Level: 4th

After a resupply and recuperation in Thelgaard (events of last time here), the PCs with Sir Plaxus start the trek to the Sage Academy. There, they hope to find information about the Promise Flames (to which they hold one of the icons...whatever that means!?). The Academy lies on the road heading east from the half-destroyed city, over a river, and is nestled at the base of the Garnet Mtns. Beam recalls a story told by his mentor about the Academy being an arcane school for both prospective and accomplished wizards (the latter having taken the Test of High Sorcery).

At the river, a recently destroyed toll shack warns the group that they are indeed in enemy territory. Across the river, an old Solamnic waystation now houses a small group of hobgoblins and their human commander (all dressed in Dragonarmy regalia). Within the basement vault, the PC's discover some steel pieces and a magical sword of unknown power. The hobs were easily defeated after they attempted to exact a toll from the PCs.

After reaching the valley before the Academy on the third day of travel, the group encounters something quite odd. A moderately sized Dragonarmy presence is camped below which would normally be cause for great concern. However, on closer inspection, none of the figures seen from the PCs' vantage are moving--not an inch. Gundar then notices a dragon flying above the troops, a blue one of human size. But that dangerous creature is also not moving--simply stuck in mid-flight.

The PCs move into the encampment and have a look around. Before too long, a bone snapping and crunching noise is heard from one of the northernmost tents. Inside, a large something is clearly feeding. Beam enacts a plan to have the group surround the tent before he causes magical flame to combust one corner of the tent. The plan works to flush the beast--a manticore--into the open. It refuses a brief attempt at parlaying by the party since they attacked it first. After taking several injuries, the winged beast retreats. The attack did allow Plaxus and Deedra to pick up some bows from frozen draconian troops standing nearby. Despite the battle, none of the Dragonarmy stirred from their spots. Beam recalled a story from his former mentor boasting of a time-control orb stored at the Academy which was created in a past age and that the older human wished to someday experiment with. It was likely that this item had caused the unnatural scene which they were in. Gundar proposed slaying all the Dragonarmy troops where they stood but Plaxus warned against such a dishonorable thing as slaying helpless foes and so the cleric relented.

Beam decided to seek out the commander's tent. Inside, aside from a naked whore under the bunk sheets, the party removed a few magical items from the human's possession along with a warbook--the same type as used by the draconian from Lytburg. The book was rather new so the few pages that were written on yielded that these troops were to sack the Academy and take whatever magics they could find there. The seige had just begun and the commander wrote that he was sending the newly arrived dragon to soften up the defenses as an initial group of draconians tested the Academy's gates.

From what the PCs could tell, that battle plan had only just begun. A winding road led up to the Academy gates from the valley, where they could see that a wall surrounded the site and the buildings within were open to the air. A frozen pillar of smoke indicated at least one pass by the dragon. A handful of draconian troops were near the gates. The PCs promptly disarmed them upon arrival and shoved their frozen forms off the road. A few troops just inside the open gates were being engaged in an silent combat by rope-form humanoids of some kind (which Beam soon deduced to be some kind of golems). Deedra commented on the eeriness of the scene as the PCs moved deeper into the complex.

About a dozen buildings stood silently waiting to be investigated. One of the first to be examined was the rope golem creation house. A medallion sat next to a completed but inactive golem on a worktable. Beam was able to use the magical item to activate the golem, through which he could deliver brief commands. Now with a little more muscle, the group discovered a stairway going down. In the basement, a strange light pulsed from within a doorway. Inside three draconians and one human were found frozen. The human, who Beam immediately recognized as his mentor Zurias, had both hands on the item throwing the light--an orb--fractured by a draconian's blade. Another draconian blade had apparently just severed the wizard's left hand prior to time stopping.

Beam decided to touch the cracked orb in an attempt to disrupt the time effect going on. The other PCs disarmed the frozen draconians and tied the bozak up after slaying the two baaz in case Beam would be successful. The young wizard instead became frozen himself. Gundar decided to try a different approach and wrenched Zurias' hands from the orb. There was an explosion of light and sound and, after the light dimmed, two of the three draconians were simply gone, leaving the adventurers with Zurias. The older wizard was surprised, to say the least, but grateful for the group's arrival (and for Gundar's field mending of the man's severed wrist).

The PCs explained they were after Promise Flame information so Zurias quickly led the group up to one of the Academy libraries. But it would not be an easy task to cross the complex (for the book they sought was on the other side of the Academy) as the attack by the Dragonarmy resumed as though nothing had happened. A few dragonarmy troops were dispatched (along with a troublesome kapak archer on a rooftop) before the blue dragon made a pass with its lightning breath weapon. The PCs slightly wounded it and it veered off as the group made it into the library (Beam also sent his rope golem to help reinforce the gates). The book (a history of the Third Dragon War written just after the Cataclysm) had all the information they would need, assured Zurias.

To escape the Academy attack, Zurias knew the group would need to use a secret exit which would, again, require a crossing of the Academy grounds. This time, the dragon strafed accurately with its lightning breath and grievously wounded both Plaxus and Beam (the latter dropping unconscious from the damage). Zurias picked up the young wizard while Gundar retrieved the book. A combined attack by the three remaining adventurers bruised the dragon enough to cause it to retreat while more draconian troops poured up to the gates (barely held in check by the few rope golems there).

Within a supply room, a secret panel hid a dwarven rune which Zurias used to open a double stone door (a medallion with the same raised rune fit into the panel's depression). Unfortunately, the doorway could only be sealed from the Academy side so Zurias knew he had to be the one to stay behind. As he handed off Beam's unconscious form to Gundar, the mentor cried and said to the wizard, "I'm very proud of you...my son. I had to give you up for the magic. I can only hope that, one day, you will understand." The surprised adventurers retreated to safety in the old dark corridor as Zurias threw in the door-opening medallion. The PCs heard the arrival of many draconians as the stone doors sealed shut, leaving the group in darkness.

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