Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Eight: Return to White Plume Mountain - Chapter 6

On the morning of Earthday, the 27th day of Flocktime, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard, after having spent the night resting in a chamber deep within the interior complex of White Plume Mountain, began to prepare for their second day inside the mountain. Unfortunately, their rest had not gone completely undisturbed, and Nicholas and Dravos were both still paralyzed as the result of an attack from a particularly powerful ghoul, which snuck into the room through a secret door just a few hours before.

So the first item that Gildor had to attend to, after praying for spells, was to cast two of those spells on Nicholas and Dravos to remove their paralysis. Soon after this was accomplished, a patrol of gnomes loyal to the False Keraptis known as Nightfear, approached the band and told them the password for the day, which was ‘doorknob’, before moving on to spread the word to the rest of Nightfear’s followers.

As soon as the gnome patrol had passed, Nero addressed the band once again and spoke to them about a matter that he had evidently been pondering over during the night. It was now agreed by the band that their mission here was no longer just to rescue Nicholas’ brother Echab, but also to try and prevent the growth of the False Kerapti’s power before it spread beyond the mountain. According to Nix, the leader of the Resistance, the only way to do this was to gather all four of Keraptis’ enchanted weapons and use them to bring the real Keraptis back to the prime material plane. This was where Nero had his doubts, as he, like his companions, was not particularly enthusiastic, to put it mildly, about bringing the powerful wizard back to this world. So Nero put forth the proposal that the band should first concentrate on rescuing Echab, after which they should then teleport back to Magepoint or Greyhawk and consult the Circle of Eight to get their advice on how they should proceed. Nero’s companions were not entirely convinced that bringing the real Keraptis back was the only way to stop the False Kerapti, so they agreed with Nero’s proposal. But even if Nix had told them the truth, Gildor bravely announced that he would even consider sacrificing his own life if the only alternative was to bring the real Keraptis back.

With this proposal in mind, Nero, at the suggestion of Kieranen, wrote a note explaining the current situation inside White Plume Mountain and used his magical feather token of a bird to send the note to Tenser’s henchman Cymria in Magepoint. In the note Nero also added that they would visit them as soon as they had rescued Echab. So, having decided upon this course of action, the band then turned their attention to the more immediate task of rescuing Echab. Here again, they came up with a quick and simple plan, which they soon put into motion by heading in the direction of Spatterdock’s territory.

But, as we soon shall see, the band almost immediately encountered major difficulties with their plan and eventually even found themselves straying from their primary goal of rescuing Echab. From the room where they had spent the night, the band proceeded down the passageway that was lined on both sides by iron plates. When they got to the intersection leading off to Spatterdock’s territory, they removed their Nightfear armbands, while Nicholas and Dravos scouted ahead. Around the corner and some distance away they spotted a gathering of what appeared to be gnomes milling about, just as they had seen on the previous day. Moving stealthily and staying hidden in the shadows, the two scouts crept closer to get a better look, when suddenly a trap door opened up beneath Nicholas’ feet. Nicholas nimbly dodged to the side and caught himself at the edge of the pit, thus avoiding a nasty fall onto the spiked floor down below. But the trap doors made a loud clanging noise which clearly drew the attention of the gnomes at the end of the passageway.

These gnomes all called out as one and asked who was there and for whom did they work. Neither Nicholas nor Dravos gave any response, but instead remained perfectly silent and still perhaps believing the gnomes would quickly forget about the noise they had just heard. Obviously perceiving the noise as a threat of some kind, since no one made any attempt to negotiate with them, the gnomes suddenly unleashed a barrage of deadly spells aimed right at them and the area just beyond. A black tentacles spell, a cloudkill spell, a chain lightning and a fireball, all went off in quick succession, while at the same time a shimmering globe of protection went up around the gnomes.

Before they knew what was happening all members of the band were suddenly caught in a mass of tentacles, a choking fog and an explosion of magical energy. Clearly unprepared for such an onslaught of spells, the band immediately began calling out for a retreat. Nero managed to dispel the black tentacles, allowing everyone to fall back, then hastily launched a fireball of his own towards the gnomes. Unfortunately, due to the obscuring effect of the cloud around them, Nero could not be certain if his fireball had any effect on the gnomes, but he got the sense that it did not. To make matters worse, the band was forced to delay their retreat until the gnolls could disarm the trapped hallway, as some members of the band began to feel their metal items heating up. Once the trap was disarmed however, both the band and the gnolls were forced to move back well beyond the next couple of rooms in order to escape the advancing cloudkill spell. It clearly was not a good way to start the day.

But once the cloudkill had dissipated and after all of the band’s injuries were healed, they decided to take a different approach. Hoping that it would lead them in the right direction, they chose instead to go through the secret door where the ghoul had emerged from during the previous night. Just beyond the secret door, they discovered a room where several bodies had apparently been buried at one time. The bodies were no longer there, leading them to suspect that they belonged to the ghouls that once occupied the room.

From this room, they followed a large fissure that headed to the east and curved around until it eventually intersected with another passageway that once led to the boiling bubble room. The bulkhead doors that once sealed the chamber were now gone and it was obvious that the water had receded. So the band took a quick look in the large chamber where the giant crab had once guarded the trident Wave. Now there was only a ledge covered with bone shards and broken weaponry, beyond which lay a boiling lake of water. Here they discovered the tiny tracks of small creatures, but quickly moved back to the intersection to the south.

From here they continued following the fissure that led east but soon curved around to the south. At this point they came upon a passageway that had collapsed to the east and to the west. As they were nearing this area, an ogre approached them from the south, apparently curious and attracted by the band’s light sources. Upon seeing the band however, the ogre looked very uncertain and asked the band in crude common who they served. They band told the ogre that they did not serve Nightfear, but gave him no more than that. At that point, the ogre, clearly recognizing the fact that he was greatly outnumbered by a formidable looking force, suddenly lost its nerve and took off running back to the south. The band hastily pursued him, but fearful of blindly running into an ambush, they soon lost ground on the fleeing ogre.

Still they followed the obvious route taken by the ogre and made their through the fissure which continued south for a great distance and slowly descended in a gradual slope. Eventually the passageway turned back to the west and opened up into a large but empty chamber. On the far side of this chamber another crevice zigzagged at an even steeper angle downwards, then split into two passageways, one which leveled off and continued west, the other descending in an even steeper slope.

By this point, it should have been very obvious to the band that both of these passageways were leading well away from Spatterdock’s territory – and yet still they were tempted to continue on their present course, having now almost completely lost sight of the goal they had set for themselves just a short while before, which was to rescue Nicholas’ brother Echab. Fortunately, some small measure of common sense managed to spring forth from their easily distracted minds and they decided to retrace their path back to the intersection near the boiling lake chamber.

From here, they followed the passageway leading south, which at one time led to a room where kelpies once lived. It was obvious, as the band made their way down the passageway, that this was no longer the case. Dravos peeked into a side chamber along the way and was immediately attacked by some sort of mushroom-like creature that launched acidic spores at him. Fortunately, the spores only burned him a bit and did no further harm to him. So the band, seeing no point in investigating that room any further, moved on to the larger chamber to the south. Here, instead of a pool of water where kelpies might live, they found a garden of sorts where all manner of mushrooms and other fungi grew.

The floor of the chamber appeared to be about 15 feet below their level, save for a 10-foot wide walkway that curved around most of the western wall and ended at a door to the south. Taking up most of the chamber was a thick profusion of fungi, including puffballs, fronds, and toadstools. Uncertain of whether or not any of the fungus was harmful to them or if anything else was hidden in the thick growth down below, the band carefully tested and inspected the area until they were satisfied that the chamber presented no threats to them. Then they made their way to the southern door, having to leap over a ten-foot gap in the walkway along the way.

After safely reaching the door on the south side of the chamber, they realized that they were about to enter the room where the band of gnomes had been earlier, which had launched all those spells at them. Now, almost certain that those gnomes were a collection of subsumed minds through which Spatterdock could launch his spells, the band realized they could probably destroy them fairly easily as long as the could get the jump on them and not let them get any spells off. Still, they wanted to be very prepared in case things did not go as they hoped. So they, very quietly, cast a few spells on themselves and made certain other preparations. Then, when they felt they were ready, they crept up to the door while Nero slipped under the door in gaseous form and invisible.

Nero, seeing that the subsumed gnomes were still in the same position, launched a fireball at them easily destroying them all. But immediately following this, the sound of more gnomes could be heard on the far side of the eastern wall, which was lined with murder holes. Kieranen, having heard the fireball go off, threw open the door and ran to another door near the murder holes, which he also threw open. There, beyond that door, were nine more rather startled gnomes. Gildor then flew up behind Kieranen and cast a flamestrike spell into the room, instantly killing all nine gnomes.

The band still had a lot of time left on their preparatory spells at this point, and wanted to take advantage of it. So they quickly moved down the corridor leading further into Spatterdock’s territory and soon came to another room where nine more subsumed gnomes were waiting for them. Here again however, the band managed to get the jump on them and quickly downed them with their spells before the gnomes could attack back. Now on a decisive roll, the band continued on. Here they had a choice of either going north or going south. They chose to go north, realizing it would probably take them towards the most secure area of Spatterdock’s territory.

A short distance away, they came to another room, this one guarded by a flesh golem. Concerned that they would not be able to affect it with their spells the spellcasters backed off and let the warriors in the band take the lead. As they did so, a side door opened up and twelve more subsumed gnomes launched another wave of spells, including an ice storm, a lightning bolt that healed up some of the golem’s injuries while causing harm to the band, and a slow spell that Kieranen and Nicholas fell victim to. But Nero then took out the gnomes with a black tentacles spell and the golem was taken down soon afterwards.

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