Episode 68, 69: Wraitherbusters!
The party was surprised to find themselves whisked away from combat in the deep snows around Whisper’s tower to a small stone chamber filled with arcane sigils. Whisper too was plucked from the streets of Uman, leaving a bewildered Reva Soonrop behind. They were greeted by a small, awkward human wearing velour garments that seemed slightly too small and a complicated headpiece of woven metal. He introduced himself as Tulius Clortho, the “Keymaster,” and in a slightly panicked voice quickly explained that his master, a necromancer known as the Mad Mage, had disappeared and that his undead servants had taken over the tower.
Initially, the party was reluctant to assist this strange little man and demanded to be returned to Whisper’s tower, Tulius explained that he wasn’t entirely sure how to operate the teleportation sigils; he had been pulling random adventurers through to help retake the tower, but wasn’t sure how to reverse the process. They were stuck, it seemed, until they had found the Mad Mage himself.
Tulius provided the party with several enchanted items designed by his master to help fight the ghosts: enchanted leather jumpsuits, a strange ghost detecting device, and some frankly alarming-looking weaponry in the form of heavy backpacks covered in runes, arcane foci, and multiple enchantments. At the centre of each pack was a sliver of residium; the whole questionable mess was connected to a long wand from which would issue a powerful bolt of arcane energy specifically designed to restrain incorporeal creatures (once sufficiently weakened). Finally, Tulius provided them with some enchanted boxes with spring-loaded tops that he assured them would imprison such restrained ghosts.
The party took a couple of hours to rest up from their interrupted encounter with the Drow Assassins attacking Whisper’s tower and to attune to these strange items. Every few minutes a booming rumble would shake the tower, as by an earthquake, or something truly massive impacting it from the outside. Tulius said it had been happening for some time, but he had no idea what it was.
Finally, suited up and armed with the strange contraptions, they followed Tulius to an antechamber in the interior of the tower containing four different portals. The Keymaster explained to the adventurers that these portals connect to different parts of the Mad Mage’s tower. They were to explore its many levels, captures the ghosts they find, and free the Mad Mage from whatever calamity must have befallen them. When the party asked him why he hadn’t attempted a rescue himself, he explained that he was a sort of semi-corporeal projection from another plane; Tulius Clortho was not actually in the tower, not completely. He then disappeared, cautioning the party not to break anything.
With some trepidation, one by one the heroes stepped into a portal and felt themselves whisked away from the antechamber. They emerged into a long gallery filled with paintings, sculpture, antiques, and tapestries of all sorts. There they encountered a spectral docent who immediately attacked, attempting to possess Magnus. The possession failed, and the party attempted to capture the ghost. They were eventually successful, but not before destroying several artifacts and displays with the unpredictable and difficult residium accelerator packs.
They explored the gallery. While full of strange items, there was little here to catch they eye, until Whisper spotted a ridiculous concrete sculpture of a goodberry. She hefted the 30lb sphere into her bag of hoarding. This drew the ire of a second ghost, Janosh, who appeared and demanded the party stop touching things and return the pilfered sculpture. The party attacked, and after a battle in which Janosh briefly hid in a painting of a truly hideous looking warlord and several more valuable artifacts were destroyed, the party succeeded in capturing the shrieking ghost.
They returned to the antechamber and entered a second portal. This one led to the Mad Mage’s library, a bizarre, non-euclidean space hundreds of feet tall and filled with row upon row of books, worktables, and floating orbs of light. Sirlius, using the PKE meter given him by Tulius, led the party through the space until they found the Librarian, a ghost in the form an elderly woman with horn-rimmed glasses floating in a study space and reading a book. Though they attempted to remain quiet, the party were loud enough to draw the anger of the Librarian, who shushed them repeatedly. When they continued to talk despite the warning, the Librarian attacked, turning invisible and flinging dozens of books off shelves at the party. They loosed their residium accelerator packs on the ghost, but found targeting difficult. Soon several stacks of books were aflame, and surges of wild magic from row upon row of arcane tome detonated around them. Yuna and keen took a severe beating from the Librarian’s flying books but ultimately the party was successful. They hastily retraced their steps out of the Library, but Magnus, overcome by curiosity, reached out to open a particularly enticing magical tome. The book snapped at him with a mouth full of sharp teeth and then floated back to its resting place on the shelf.
The third portal lead the party to a massive banquet hall. Dozens of round tables had been set with baroque, solid silver and gold tableware and several had full meals prepared, ready to be eaten. A head table some 75 or 80 feet long ran the length of the room; the wall behind it obscured by heavy curtains. The PKE meter lead the party across the room to one particular table, where the centrepiece – a large roasted bird of some description – was registering significant spectral activity. Sirlius investigated, and found one end of the bird to be covered in a thick, viscous green goop. His stomach turned. Magnus picked up the roast bird, pulled its head off, and looked inside. He was startled by the fat green torso of a ghost rocketing up out of the carcass and into the air around the chandeliers. The party attacked the ghost, who streaked through Sirlius, knocking him from his feet and covering him head to toe in the nasty slime. The battle lasted for some time, as the ghost whizzed back and forth alternately charging the party, sliming them, and hiding in inanimate objects. Yuna briefly distracted the creature with a mound of food piled high around a hidden trap, but Ara’s brutal melee attacks – the monk never having gotten the hang of the accelerator packs – proved too much, and the creature fled, zipping through a stone wall and disappearing from view.
Though their quarry had escaped, the banquet hall had suffered massive damage: several tables were destroyed both from arcane lightning streams and the impact of a chandelier exploding and dropping to the ground. The head table was in ruins, the musical stage destroyed, and the curtains were on fire. As they burned, the wall behind them was revealed to be not stone but a long line of floor-to-ceiling windows. Magnus looked out and was startled to see that the Mad Mage’s tower was not on Telisar at all, but seemingly floating adrift in the Astral Sea. Vague, ominous shapes silhouetted in the blackness floated past the windows, and the booming, shaking impacts continued to rattle the tower. What had been an entertaining, if somewhat frustrating and terrifying experience thus far had to Magnus become much more serious. He urged his friends to make haste to find the Mad Mage.
They returned to the portals, and taking the fourth and final one, they arrived in a single square room about 50 feet across: the Mad Mage’s alchemical workshop. Tables were covered with multiple sets of the most beautiful, and the most expensive alchemical lab equipment any of them had ever seen; bookshelves full to bursting with rare tomes, scrolls, spell components and alchemical ingredients lined the walls, interspersed with tapestries; skeletons of various humanoid and non-humanoid creatures were on display; and one experiment was still in progress, bubbling away and filling the room with a faintly nauseating smell. The wall in one corner had been blown apart, revealing a glowing marble staircase ascending into bright light.
Sirlius scanned the room for paranormal activity and found the glowing staircase nearly overloaded the PKE meter. He cautioned the party that spectral energies were pouring out of the breach in the stone. Magnus began inspecting the lab, marveling at the array of knowledge contained on the shelves, and unable to help himself reached out to grab what appeared to be an original copy of Tobin’s Grimoire. To his surprise, the book was sticky, and when he tried to pull his fingers from the spine, it grew a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, bit down onto his hand and began to ooze up his arm.
Yuna and Keen were simultaneously attacked by two other mimics, and their friends raced to their aid. Sirlius reached for his newly-acquired Wand of Wonder and waved it at the mimic attacking Magnus. A 100-foot long, 5-foot wide blast of lightning shot across the room, engulfing the mimic, Magnus, the bookcase behind him, and the alchemical experiment between them, which promptly detonated in a huge fireball. Momentarily stunned by the spectacle of Sirlius engulfing half the room in a torrent of lightning and fire, Ara recovered his wits and engaged one of the closest mimics; the battle was joined.
To their surprise, the party quickly found that these were no ordinary mimics, but a large compound mimic in its disjoined form. The mimics oozed together in the centre of the lab, forming a single fleshy, oozing creature of immense size. It lashed out with its sticky pseudopods, grappling Keen. As he struggled, the party watched horrified as the flesh of the gruesome creature split apart, revealing a massive mouth, and Keen was swallowed whole, the flesh knitting together behind him.
Sirlius realized the quickest way to rescue Keen was to slay the creature, and so cast a fireball directly on it, once again engulfing Magnus in arcane fire. The party redoubled their attack, Whisper’s deadly arrows guided by Yuna’s radiant spellcasting while Ara pummeled it with his bo staff. Magnus realized the creature seemed resistant to the fire damage it had suffered, and instead tried cold spells. This proved effective, and little by little the party wore the creature down. Meanwhile, crushed inside the mimic Keen struggled to free himself by detonating a vial of black powder, but his efforts were hampered by the acid eating away at his flesh. At last the creature was destroyed, and as it fell it covered the entire lab in a torrent of acidic goo. Anything not already burnt, exploded or shattered was soon being dissolved by acid.
With the lab utterly destroyed, there remained only the strange shimmering staircase. The party followed Magnus up the stairs, and emerged at the top of the tower. With the Astral Sea swirling around them and the booming impact of huge tentacled…things at the base of the tower, the party confronted the source of the disturbances: a large pyramid housing a portal to the Abyss. Floating in the air before it, strapped to a spinning Catherine Wheel, was the Mad Mage himself, seemingly dead or unconscious.
Before it all stood a lithe, humanoid woman dressed all in white, with short black hair and dark eyes. The figure turned to the party and asked, “Are you a God?” Yuna manifested her radiant soul, brilliant shining with divine energy and sprouting feathery white wings declared, “Yes!” The figure regarded her for a moment, smirking. “You do not fool me, sub-creature. You will perish. I will harness the power of this place to walk the Material Plane once more, and all will know suffering!”
Just then, the party was startled to hear the voice of Tulius Clortho, who had re-appeared beside them. “Oh, wow, there’s my master! Hey, what’s going on up here? Who’s that?” Just then, the figure disappeared, but its voice echoed across the tower, saying “Choose! Choose the form of your destructor!” As the party tried to make sense of this, Tulius said, “Oh, I was just reading about the Traveller! I think whatever you think of it becomes and then destroys you. So don’t think of anything! Like this one time, during the Third Reconciliation of the Last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for him, that of a giant sloar! …whoops.”
They watched in horror as appearing some distance away from the tower was a truly gargantuan titan: an iron worm some 90 feet long, 15 feet in diameter, its head mostly mouth. Within its gaping maw the red-orange glow of a burning furnace cast a terrifying light. To Sirlius, who had failed to clear his mind, the sloar seemed to have the grinning hideous face of Panaver Knacklebun; to Ara, it was less a giant worm than blood-soaked, dragon-winged bunny rabbit; to Magnus it was a giant sloar with a tiny Hat of True Frog on its head.
Yuna rushed to the aid of the Mad Mage, breaking his bindings and restoring him to consciousness. The disoriented wizard angrily accused the party of stealing his experimental equipment until he saw the open portal to the Abyss and the approaching form of the giant sloar. He ran for the stairs but Whisper grabbed him, asking what they should do. He suggested they could try crossing the streams of the residium accelerator packs just at the surface of the portal. The resonance of the residium with the planar energies might draw the resulting explosion inwards, collapsing the portal and removing Gozer’s source of power. Yuna healed the party, and together they aimed their packs at the portal, and fired.
The explosion did indeed seal the portal, but the residual shockwave sent the party flying across the tower to land in a bloody heap. The residium crystals in the packs all shattered, the strange weapons now rendered inert.
The Mad Mage was delighted to have his tower secured, and thanked the party for their efforts, though he did seem concerned that none of his many rare and priceless artifacts had been damaged during the chaos. The party was quick to blame Tulius’s previous adventurers for any damage in the tower, claiming, “It was like that when we got here.” The Mage was enraged by the destruction he found throughout the tower, but appeared to accept the party’s story.
The Mage returned the tower, and the heroes to Telisar. They would find themselves in precisely the location from which they were plucked some hours ago, though he warned them time continued to flow normally in their absence. Whisper wondered what might have befallen the hapless Reva Soonrop while they were gone.
Before departing, Tulius thanked the party for rescuing his master, and then with a few minor adjustments to the PKE Meter, quietly pressed it to Sirlius, entreating him to keep it, saying “The Mad Mage doesn’t know I broke it, so if you have it I can’t get in any more trouble!” Sirlius thanked the strange little human, but was unnerved to see that the meter now registered himself as a source of extra-planar energy. For some reason, the PKE Meter indicated Sirlius was not from the Material Plane.
- 6 x experimental Residium Accelerator Packs
- Life-sized tiefling (male) sculpture, brass
- 3 x Crystal, glass and iron chandeliers
- Antique ossified dragonborn bow, quiver and knife
- Crystal goblets and decanter set
- Statue of Tiamat, circa 2nd Era, marble
- Still Life of Goodberry, by Aa’wea’go Oe’y Ivi’o (Exceptional), cement (stolen)
- 9 x Bookshelves (destroyed)
- 15 x Bookshelves (smoke/residual arcane damage)
- 4 x Banquet table, including 8 place settings
- Miscellaneous tableware and furnishings
- Southern Isles 5-stringed lute
- “The Mage on Horseback,” private commission, oil on canvas
- “The Mage on His Throne,” private commission, oil on wood
- “The Mage on Holiday,” private commission, oil on wood
- 2 x High-backed banquet thrones, wood, upholstered, gold filigree
- 9 x velvet draperies, 50 ft x 10 ft
- Bottle of Simbali Black, 3162. Label signed, “You Bastard, S.”
- 2500 x Books/scrolls/parchment/etchings/combustible materials (estimated)
- Alchemical laboratory equipment totalling ~5000GP
- Skeleton of dragonborn, male, complete
- Skeleton of tiefling, female, complete
- Skeleton of red dragon wyrmling, partial
- Storm giant skull
- “Spots,” pet compound mimic
Ghosts Trapped: 3/4
Copyright Status: Infringed
RP Rating: Awesome!