Chapter 02: Rock and a Hard Place

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Session Number: 42
Date: Sunday 28 March 2010
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr6 (Fergus) (kills: several crates)
Enok Rgr7 (Alain) (kills: 1 ice-covered undead - although it isn't ready dead)
Rowaine Pal7 (Craig) (kills: 2 trapdoors)
Troll Wiz7 (Densial) (kills: 1 iced-up doorway)

XP Awarded: TBC

Rowaine, Harley and Arrian rejoin Enok and Troll. Trolls asks what they found, Rowaine describes their experience. She explains her reasoning that it might be better to take Troll across. Troll is dead keen. Enok says that he is going to start crawling across the frozen lake, which would take about an hour. He is not at all interested in Earth Gliding again. He starts removing his furs to don his armour, in case a quick exit is necessary. Rowaine tries to think of some way to keep the party together, but Enok will not tolerate travelling beneath the surface and it seems a pointless risk having more party members than is necessary travel across the ice. Eventually the party settle on watching Enok crawl across the ice, holding a lit sunrod. After the better part of an hour, Rowaine and Harley will take Troll under the lake. Enok will take a hammer and pitons to tap on the spire's rock surface, to guide Harley to a safe exit.

Enok crawls, Kachik in tow. The others wait. Time passes. Rowaine and Troll mount up and Earth Glide.

Enok circumnavigates the spire. There use to be a wooden structure at the base, as evidenced by holes in the surface and and splintered wooden piles. Both the spire-shaped rock and the structure on top are covered in thick, transparent ice. About 15 feet up above where the wooden structure used to stand is a wooden doorframe with two intact, ice-encased wooden doors. One is ajar. Enok hammers pitons into the ice, forming hand- and foot-holds.

Harley approaches the spire from below and spirals upwards. She can sense tapping coming from above, beyond the flat top. Rowaine directs Harley to continue spiralling upwards into whatever lies beyond.

Not for the first time, Rowaine forgets to ready a light source.

As soon as they break surface but before they see anything, all sense that their momentum halts and that they are being attacked, as if simultaneously pummelled by multiple sources. Rowaine and Troll are hurt; Harley shrugs it off. None can see anything and it feels as if the air is being expelled from their lungs. Rowaine directs Harley to immediately drop back into the stone.

Rowaine lights a sunrod and tries again, directing Harley to exit at a different point. The group seem to avoid the trouble they encountered the first time and the sunrod illuminates a circular stone room about 30 feet across. The stone walls are encased in thick ice. The floor opposite is covered in destroyed boxes. There is an ajar wooden double door in the wall's circumference.

A crashing noise from within the area of the crates draws attention and an 8 foot tall ice-covered creature shambles towards the group, icy fists at the ready. It seems to slide through the ice on the floor. The creature within appears desiccated, almost skeletal!


Rowaine yells "Troll - try and speak to it! Say your name - your full name! Maybe it's the tower's keeper!" She then readies her axe.

The creature slams two ice-encrusted fists into Harley, doing massive damage. Rowaine gets Harley to give a step or two. Troll drops a Fireball behind the creature that engulfs it. A portion of ice melts away from its back.

The creature full-attacks Harley again, hitting once.

"We're LEAVING!" yells Rowaine. Harley withdraws through the floor. Rowaine Lays Hands on Harley, healing some of the vicious damage to her face.

Enok had climbed up the ice and through the door saw Harley being mauled.

Above, the creature looks out the door and sees Enok. Enok sees the murderous intent in those eyes and lets go, sliding down the ice. The creature slides through the iced-up doorway unimpeded, looks around, spots Enok and lumbers down. Enok RUNS. He outdistances the creature who stops 50 feet beyond the spire, stumbling. It turns and backs off a step. Enok looses an arrow at the creature but the wind blows the missile wide of its target. The creature turns towards Enok and paces a step or two sideways. Enok fires again, missing. And again.

Arrian can see some movement and the flash of a sunrod but cannot make out any detail.

Enok shoots again and hits, chipping away at the ice on the creature's shoulder.

Rowaine gets Harley to skirt around the extent of the spire, looking for a way through. The entire surface is coated with a thick layer of impenetrable ice. Rowaine directs Harley to dive deep and return to the lake's frozen shore where Arrian waits.

Enok shoots two more arrows over the next two rounds and misses. The third arrow hits for minor damage. The creature backs off, heading towards the tower. Enok's next arrow does 6 damage to its back. It swings around and charges, enraged.

Fergus farts. - nice to have these monitored and recorded - Fergus

Enok runs away. Behind him is a loud cracking sound. Enok looks behind and sees the creature backpedalling, its arms whirling around, trying to stop and keep its balance. It loses its footing and tumbles through broken ice into the supercooled water below.

After a victory dance Enok turns around and heads back to the shore. Rowaine pops out of the earth and quickly debriefs Arrian. The elf casts two Cure Moderate Wounds on Harley, who senses Rowaine's enmity but accept's Arrian's touch. Rowaine and the others see Enok's light heading closer. Enok jogs up to the others.

"What happened?" asks Rowaine. "Did you see it? Is it still in there?"

"Yeah yeah," begins Enok. "It chased me but then it went through the ice. It was so funny! It's probably floating somewhere. Funny, eh?"

"Is it going to sink to the bottom or will it float?"

"I think it will float. Unless it has a brother it's our chance to cross."

The ice has proved that it can support the weight of a human, but not something very heavy. The party might have to skirt around the broken area. Harley probably can't go, she probably weighs about the same as the big creature. Rowaine tells Harley to wait at the frozen lake's edge while the others walk back towards the spire, roped together, walking an arc around the broken ice. Enok is in the front, guiding the way. Rowaine is at the rear. They successfully cross the ice.

Troll Fiery Bursts the ice in the doorway. After a few minutes they look and listen within but don't notice anything. After a full 15 minutes of Bursts there is a passage through the ice wide enough for the party to pass through. All enter. Enok stays by the door, looking outside.

"Troll," says Rowaine, "This is a tower. Make it work."

"You could try those stairs beyond those boxes…"

The staircase climbs upwards, following the curved stone walls for a half-turn. Rowaine climbs up, followed by Troll. The way is not easy; the wooden treads are covered in slippery ice. The stairs end near the ceiling which has a trapdoor in it. The ceiling is covered in a foot-thick layer of ice. Rowaine figures there is no way to position Troll's Fiery Burst so that it doesn't also engulf the stairs. She grabs a piton and the hammer and starts chipping away at the ice.

Arrian searches through the boxes. They contain frozen grain and cured meats. There is a small barrel of oil.

It takes 30 minutes for Rowaine to expose the trapdoor. The door isn't locked or barred but it doesn't open - it is held fast by a layer of ice on top. Rowaine swaps to her axe and hacks away at the trapdoor. It gives way after a few minutes revealling the ice on top. Rowaine wipes the sweat from her brow and hammers the piton into the ice. After 30 minutes she opens up a hole through the ice big enough to climb through. Rowaine stows her tools, picks up her axe and sunrod and climbs through.

Above is a circular room with iced stone walls. Icicles hang from the roof. There is another set of winding circular stairs going up to another trapdoor. The room appears to be a study - there is a writing desk and chair, an empty bookshelf, two couches and two crates - all encased in transparent ice.

Rowaine asks Enok to check for any trapdoors in the ground level floor. He doesn't find any. Rowaine climbs the stairs, takes a deep breath and resumes her work getting through the next trapdoor. She breaks through the ice. A few blows from her axe splinters the wood, letting in natural light. Rowaine chips away more wood and puts her eye to the ice above; she can see the sun.

The windows here have closed, iced-over shutters. Rowaine uses her Detect Evil ability, Arrian casts Detect Magic. Initially, Rowaine detects the presence of evil in this upper level and Arrian senses magic emanating from a 6ft long ice-covered crate. Next, Rowaine senses that the evil is coming from the crate, she then doubles over and vomits from its magnitude. Arrian senses one aura of significant magical power.

Rowaine recovers enough to say "Something is in that box, and it is evil. Sickeningly evil. We've got to destroy it. I don't want to leave this thing here, for somebody else to find…"

Arrian cannot identify what type of magic is present.

Ro: "Whatever is in there, it's not disturbed by lots of noise."

Rowaine and Arrian debate what to do. Burn the crate? Light up the area? Enok reports that there is still nothing of interest outside.

Arrian goes to the lower level and searches, finding nothing further. He returns to the upper level where Rowaine sits, puzzled.

"Perhaps this is where the books are," she muses, looking at the crate.

"Evil books," Arrian adds. "At least some of them. We don't want anything to do with them."

Rowaine notices that no party members have been feeling sick, as they would have had there been raw imithrium present.

Do they set up the portable portal? No, not yet… See whether the tower can somehow be activated first.

Arrian opens the other 9 crates in the upper level. Several contain books and parchments scribed in an unknown language, 3 contain cloth, 1 holds frozen food and the last is empty. Troll Detects Magic - 4 of the books in one of the crates are magical. The first crate radiates evil magic. The 4 books are not evil, and radiate an enchantment aura.

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