Journal Entry: War of the Lance
Entry Date: 10/13/2002
Raistlin prepared additional magic disks in the morning and carried Flint the rest of the way. By noon, they reached Skullcap. They reconnoitered the massive, stone skull. The mouth and eyes were the only ways they could see in from their vantage point.
Tanis asked Raistlin if he knew anything of this place. Raistlin thought and then he changed. He became someone else. His cough was gone, his voice full. He spoke as though he were the ghost of Fistandantilus. He told of his place in the world, his desire for power in a world ruled by clerics. He spoke of the Cataclysm and his chance at glory. He told of his war and his defeat. He told that the secret for the path to Thorbardin lay in the depths of Skullcap with his remains. When Raistlin finished his narrative, he had no recollection of what he had said.
They climbed the rubble as high as they could and then sent up Tas' magic rope, securing it around one of the " teeth." The party scaled the sick cliff face and entered the mouth. Tossing the rope down the slope, they went down the throat and into the skull itself.
They found a hall with a set of doors left and right. A further search revealed no other passages, so they went right. This led to a great hall containing a partially collapsed grand stair. Several doors led of the chamber.
Tas picked a set at random, against the opposite door and to the right. He opened the doors and found a short hall leading to another set of doors. There were slits in the walls. Tas peeked through. He saw a hideous creature drawing a bow on him. He ran as arrows flew from the slits.
Tanis was concerned. From what Raistlin had told them, the gates might be within Skullcap. He did not want to leave anything behind that might attack the refugees if they had to bring them through here. Goldmoon was consulted. She told him she had the ability to make some of the party invisible to the undead. As Riverwind already had his cloak, she made five others, plus herself invisible. Keeping all the traitors together, Eben, Gilthanas, and Raistlin did not go.
The party crept in, but could find no way to approach the wights. Tanis decided they would find another way around.
They went back to a door they had not tried and opened it. Beyond was a strange shimmering dome of magic. Within could be seen a dragon, metallic in color, pursuing a goblin. Various poking and prodding of the dome revealed little. Gilthanas used his magic and confirmed it was magical (duh!). Some of the party decided to climb over to a gap in the wall that might go into an adjoining room. Tas confirmed that he could see one of the wights from the opening.
As Tanis climbed over, metal on his armor brushed the dome, and it popped like a soap bubble. A dragon was lose in the room with them, and it gulped down the goblin in a instance. Over 30 feet from nose to tail, the dragon barely fit in the relatively small room. It glared at Tanis.
Tanis decided a diplomatic approach was best and tried to talk to the dragon. It turned out to be quite friendly, if a bit confused. It was a brass dragon named Blaize. Tas asked why it was called Baize, and the dragon demonstrated with a gout of fire from its jaws.
Blaize explained that he was a combatant in the Dwarfgate wars. He has been summoned by a Derro Savant to counter another dragon, Whisper, summoned by the evil wizard Fistandantilus. Distasteful as it was to be summoned by such a foul creature, the black robed mage was undoubtedly worse and so Blaize agreed.
Flint tried to control his rage as the dragon explained the evil of the wizard and the justness of the mountain dwarf cause. It was his family and people that this dragon fought against and now they were just going to make friends with it?
They told the dragon of the new dragonwar. Blaize was puzzled by this and why good dragons had not reappeared as well. He promised he would look into this once they were free of Skullcap. They asked if Blaize could kill the wights, and Blaize obliged with a powerful fireball spell.
Debate began as to whether to clear out the rest of this level or continue down the stairs. They asked the dragon if he would come with them. Gazing down, he told them the way was too small. They asked what he could see at the bottom, but the bottom was beyond his vision, well over 200 feet. Blaize expressed his confusion as the Dwarfgates were in the mountains, not here. Asked if he knew where they were, he explained he was summoned on the plains and had never seen the great gates.
Some were worried about the dangers of this place. Gilthanas recommended heading down and getting their mission over with. Tanis scoffed at the rumors of Skullcap's dangers. Surely those danger were exaggerated. He decided they should leave nothing behind them and they decided to try the first door they had seen but left un opened.
Beyond was a hall with three doors on each side. Eben strode forward, boldly, and tried a door. Empty. Another, empty. A third, nothing but a table and an old tunic with bright buttons. Thinking it might be magic, Eben stepped in and took the tunic, followed closely by Tasslehoff.
As he touched the tunic, a ghostly form appeared, claiming the tunic was his. It's spectral hand reach out and into Eben's chest, grasping his heart in a cold grip of ice. Eben screamed.
The heroes came running, weapons drawn. Seeing what it was, Riverwind shouted for everyone to get back. Sturm and Tanis drew weapons and guarded the door. Tas took a swing at it with his dagger and retreated. Eben, weak and shaking from the attack, likewise drew his weapon and struck. As it lunged at him again, he ran from the room, tunic in hand.
Riverwind slammed the door shut, and they all waited, except Eben who ran down the hall. The specter emerged from the wall directly behind him, striking him again. He tossed the tunic to Sturm, and continued to stagger away.
Caught off guard, the warriors tried to surround it. Their blows appears to pass harmlessly through it, and it even ignored Goldmoon's attempt to drive it away. It lunged at Sturm, who now had the tunic. The cold gripped him as well, but he struck with the Brightblade, and the magic blade banished the thing at last.
In the meantime, Tas checked out the other three rooms and found them empty.
Raistlin tested the tunic and found it to be completely mundane. No magic about it. Eben drank his royal jelly and was restored to health, even if still terrified. With only one dose left, it was decided to save it for now.
Tas went to check out more doors and the party began to follow some distance back. The next door he checked, the led to another empty room. The next he peeked through revealed a number of spectral revelers gathering in a short hall. Another door was beyond. Rather then face those beings, he went around to a side door and tried it. A grand ballroom lay beyond and " ghosts" were dancing to unheard music.
He reported all this to Tanis. Tanis decided to bring Goldmoon and check it out. Tanis stepped into the short hall. The spirits paid him no attention. Tas believed the next door led into the dance hall he'd seen from the other side, so he tried that door. Sure enough, the door led to the hall and more spirit revelers. He and Goldmoon stepped inside, but these spirits were not so oblivious to the intrusion.
Five spectral beings rushed them from the crowd, dressed in the uniforms of generals in the army of Fistandantilus. Tanis swung at one with his sword, but missed. Goldmoon held forth her medallion of faith and attempted to drive them away. Only two were driven back. Tas ran into the hall and shouted for help.
Two of the ghosts attacked Goldmoon, their spectral hands grasping her throat. Fear such as she had never known gripped her body. Her heart fluttered and stopped as she was literally scared to death.
The third attacked Tanis, but he resisted it.
The party, joined by Blaize, rushed to see what was happening. The saw Goldmoon's lifeless body on the floor and Tanis being rushed by the spectral beings. They rushed in to fight.
Tanis fell victim to the things next, the steely cold fingers strangling him. He fell, but Riverwind grabbed up his weapon and fought for his fallen love. Blaize spoke words of magic. A ball of flame erupted from the rear of the chamber and engulfed two of the things. As the wave of heat, flame, and debris cleared, one of them was gone.
Tas leapt in, taunting, and their touch seemed to have no effect on him. As he drew their attention, the Brightblade struck and was soon joined by Flint and his dwarven waraxe.
Caramon felt their touch next. The big man's heart was stronger though and he resisted the death that befell his comrades as he ran screaming from the room. Magic weapons and spells finished of the two remaining phantoms, just as the ceiling, weakened by the dragons fireball and compromised when he forced his way into the fight, collapsed. The heroes ran, or were dragged out. When the dust settled, the party sat or stood in the hall, some crying. Under tons of rubble, Goldmoon and Tanis' bodies were lost.
All was darkness. Caramon's fearful sobs could be heard as he continued to be gripped by an unnatural terror. Riverwind clawed in vane at the massive blocks of stone which had buried the body of his beloved.
With a word, Raistlin illuminated the darkness and the survivors began to gather together. Gilthanas tried to get people organized and head down the central shaft. The secret was said to be below. He was tired of this pointless searching and fearful of what other dangers might await them in the rooms and halls of this evil place.
Eben suggested they investigate a side passage, a cave really, and maybe find an easy way down. Gilthanas was opposed to this as they had no idea what might lie in that darkness and at least they could see down the shaft.
Flint descended first, climbing down nearly 300 feet of rope to the bottom. Above, most of the party awaiting his signal that it was safe before proceeding.
Flint found himself on top of a damaged dome. The area was littered with bones and debris. An opening in the top of the dome led to a chamber below. He yanked on the rope to signal the others to join him and headed for the hole.
Above, Tas led the way, followed by Tika, Eben, Gilthanas and Sturm. Raistlin decided that he would wait above, but would come if needed. Caramon stayed with him.
Flint climbed down the hole. As he reached the metal frame of the dome, three skeletal figures, armed with swords and clad in armor rose from the debris to face him. Their eyes glowed with an unholy light and they soon had him surrounded. Flint bellowed for help, and tried to fight back, but fell to the blows.
Above, Raistlin heard the cries for help. He shoved his brother into the shaft and threw himself after. The twins plummeted past those on the rope and as the floor loomed close in Raistlin's light, he used his staff to slow their descent, the two landed gently in the midst of the undead.
The skeletal warriors surrounded Caramon. They proved virtually impervious to his sword thrusts as they battered him mercilessly. Raistlin cast a bolt of lightning. Thunder crashed through the shaft, but the undead were unaffected.
Caramon shoved the unconscious form of Flint through the hole as he tried in vane to battle the creatures. Raistlin made himself invisible and leapt down, calling on his brother to follow. Caramon did follow, but only because that was where he fell, the swords of the evil things tearing into him. As they attacked, they begged Caramon to help free them from the one who controlled them.
Above, the shaft fell silent. The clash of swords, the casting of magic was gone. All that remained was a thin beam of light shining up from below.
Tas gazed down, trying to figure out what had happened. Then the rope jerked, as if tugged. Again and again it shook and jerked. As the rope swung below, it passed through the light. Tas gasped. Something was climbing up, it's eyes glowing. Tas drew a dagger and waited. As it grew closer, he could make out details. As the skeletal warrior drew its sword to attack, Tas cut the rope. The three undead plummeted nearly 200 feet to the bottom.
Climbing down now would be harder. Eben climbed back up, unwilling to continue, his fear overcoming all other considerations. From above, Riverwind was finally coming back to his senses and able to help. He helped swing the rope over to the side of the shaft where they could find purchase to climb down. After a long and arduous climb, the heroes came to cling to a narrow ledge overlooking the top of the dome. Below them, one warrior lay smashed from the fall, but the other two, battered, were glaring up at them with glowing eyes.
Calling on the others to hold him steady, Gilthanas cast magic at one of the creatures, but still it stood. Below, Raistlin's magic threw forth a flurry of magic bolts that destroyed one. Finally, Sturm drew the Brightblade and leapt into the battle. With a mighty stroke, he downed the last of the foul creatures.
Everyone climbed down into the rubble strewn and oddly shaped chamber where Raistlin tended the two fallen warriors. Sturm helped with Caramon and he was soon conscious, if still dangerously injured.
A number of doors and passages led from the room. Tas decided these needed to be checked for traps, locks, and things of interest. Caramon admonished the kender to not open the doors. Given their condition, the last thing they needed was to let something in. This, however, only fed the kender's curiosity. He checked the first door and found it to be unlocked and untrapped. After a moment's hesitation, he peaked through to see a narrow hallway beyond.
He went to the second door. Even though his comrades warned him to leave the door be, he peaked through this one too. Another hallway. Tika, becoming frustrated with the kender, walked over to deal with him. Tas rushed to the third door. He dodged past Tika, as though it were a big game, and dashed through the last door, into yet another empty hall. Tika slammed the door shut behind him and spiked it shut, furious.
Fortunately for the kender, all these halls connected and he soon found himself at an intersection, which led ahead, right into the room the party occupied, or left out onto a balcony. Going left, he cam to a huge square room. Within, a mechanical hydra began to move and breathed fire on the ceiling. Tas ran.
Back by that last door, Tika finally took note of the room's contents. This 10ft alcove had yet another door and a table. Sitting at the table was a skeleton in black robes. She called the others over. It seemed to be a normal skeleton and it had a ring of ancient keys. Raistlin took these.
With the hydra on one side, Tas decided to check the other direction. Sure enough, another balcony, overlooking another room, and another hydra. It was decided to rest here for at least several watches so that the injured could recover.
Eben was sitting in the darkness listening to the dragon go on and on about anything and everything. He had never known anyone to talk so much in his life.
Suddenly, a light illuminated the place, shining in from down the hall. The old wizard, Fizban, was walking towards him, his form tall and regal, his very being glowing with power. The shadows of this evil place fled before him. He regarded the dragon with stern eyes. "What are you doing here?"
The dragon appeared very surprised even startled. He bowed before the old mage, showing great deference. As he begins to speak "My Lord Pa..." The mage shushed him as he seemed to see Eben for the first time, his gaze piercing the man.
He gestured, and spoke words of magic.
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