Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Seven: Vale of the Mage - Chapter 6

On Waterday, the 26th day of Planting, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard arrived at the Citadel of the Black One in the Valley of the Mage. After discovering that the front doors of the citadel were magically trapped and guarded by gargoyle-like creatures made of stone, they looked around the building for another means of access. They found a door on the north side of the building where they detected no magic, and a door on the backside where they did detect magic.

Following a great deal of debate about their next course of action, they decided to investigate the side door first. But when Aejiri examined the door, he found an odd slot in the bottom of the door that appeared to be part of a trap. It also looked as though the door might be a false door as well. Upon seeing this they decided that they might be better off looking elsewhere first.

So the band turned to the door at the back of the citadel. However, when Aejiri touched it, a mass of black tentacles erupted from the door as if from a Black Tentacles spell. At the same time, three more of the gargoyle-like creatures flew down from the top of the building and attacked. Nero, his familiar Raaze, and Aejiri, were caught in the tentacles while the others had to fight off the citadel’s guardians. The three caught in the black tentacles only managed to escape thanks to a spell used by Nero that allowed him to switch the places of his allies. With this spell he put Gildor in the place of those caught in the tentacles and Gildor was then able to escape the tentacles with the aid of his ring of freedom of movement. Once the guardians were defeated and they had escaped the tentacles, the band had little choice then but to rest for the night as several of them were pretty badly beaten.

They made camp a short distance from the citadel just inside the surrounding woods. Gildor created a wall of stone that enclosed all but one side of them, which faced the citadel so they could keep an eye on it. Later that night they were attacked by four owlbears that happened to be passing by. The owlbears proved to be fairly tough opponents. But after a brief struggle, the band managed to kill them with being too severely wounded. The remainder of the night was uneventful.

The next morning, on Earthday, the 27th of Planting, the band returned to the citadel and tried again to find a way in. This time, once again making use of Gildor’s ring of freedom of movement, they tried the backdoor again, and while the black tentacles that sprung from the door had no effect, they also found that it too appeared to be a false door and would not open. So most members of the band started looking for secret doors, while Nicholas searched the grounds for any signs of a tunnel.

They started on the south side of the building where there were no visible doors, false or otherwise. Then they moved around to the west side or back side of the building. Finally, on the southern portion of the west side, they located a secret door. As Aejiri moved to open the secret door, they found that it was trapped with a capsule that emerged from a slot in the door that broke at Aejiri’s feet and created a cloud of poisonous gas, forcing him to retreat from the door. But Kieranen, with his necklace of adaptation, stepped up to open the door and was unaffected by the poisonous cloud, allowing him to get the door open with no difficulty. So the group waited for the gas to dissipate, then they entered the passageway beyond, which was dimly lit by a glowing moss that covered the walls.

Unfortunately, as they stepped into the passageway, another trap was sprung by a pressure plate in the floor that released a poisonous powder from the ceiling which slowly floated down on them. Again they were forced to retreat. Gildor then used his wings of flying to scout out the corridor ahead. He saw that the entire 30 foot passageway was trapped but found another secret door at the far end. Opening that door, he discovered another passageway where the floor appeared to be safe. So the group decided to climb into Nero’s portable hole, all except Gildor who flew them across and into the second passageway, where he opened the hole and let his companions climb out.

From here, the passageway, also lit by the glowing moss, turned to the north and went about 70 feet towards the center of the citadel. At the end of the passageway were three doors, one of which was made of brass and had images of lizards and butterflies at its center. But before this door they found another pit trap, which they managed to avoid by using the portable hole as they had before.

Once on the other side of the pit trap, they decided to try a wooden door to the east first, where Aejiri could find no trap. The door was locked, but after getting it open they found a room where several shields were hung on the walls. Two of them they detected as being magical and all of them had a coat of arms on them representing various countries of the Flanaess. So Aejiri moved into the room to examine them while the others tried to identify the countries that were indicated. While they were doing this however, two creatures known as black puddings, one on the floor beneath Aejiri’e feet, and another on the ceiling, suddenly attacked Aejiri. Kieranen swung at one of them with his sword and only managed to cut it in half without really harming it, while at the same time causing damage to his sword from the acid secreted by the creature. Resorting to magic and blunt weapons then, they finally killed both black puddings, but not before they had caused more damage to some of the group’s items, including the hat that Aejiri had made out of a skull, which was completely ruined. Once the black puddings were killed, they found that the two magic shields were those of the Valley of the Mage and the Great kingdom. They could find no other means of access to this room however, despite a search for secret doors. So they turned to another door in the passageway.

At this point, Aejiri discovered another trap set on the wooden door to the west. Any attempt to open it would have dropped a huge stone block on anyone standing outside the door. Gildor disarmed this trap by reducing the stone block to soft clay, which then fell onto the floor where it could cause no harm. Unfortunately, the wooden door turned out to be another false door, which would not open.

This left only the brass door to the north. This door was neither trapped nor locked and led to another small room where the walls were covered in chalk frescoes. A few lines of writing in the frescoes was too small to make out from the doorway. So Gildor started to go inside to have a look. But then he realized that the floor was another pit trap. So he used his wings of flying and flew over. When he got to the writing, it appeared to him to be written in elven, which he could not read. So Nero used one of his wands to cast a spell that would allow him to see through Gildor’s eyes. He discovered then that the writing was complete gibberish.

At this point the group appeared to have come to a dead end. So they decided to investigate the pit trap by intentionally setting it off. It took Gildor and Kieranen’s weight upon the floor to trigger it. Kieranen was holding on to a rope with Nicholas on the other end, and while Nicholas was able to keep the elf from falling all the way in, he did get banged up a bit when the trap door opened and Kieranen slammed against the side of the pit. Gildor had it worse however, as he wasn’t quick enough with his wings of flying and ended up falling on to the rusty spikes at the bottom of the pit. Gildor healed himself up though and took a look around in the pit, but found nothing of interest.

From there, the band decided to back-track and search for secret doors along the corridor. A short while later they did find a secret door near the right angle turn that had taken them north.



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