Tales of the Righteous Vanguard

Part Seven: Vale of the Mage - Chapter 7

On Earthday, the 27th day of Planting, in the Common Year of 580, the Righteous Vanguard found a secret door in the Citadel of the Black One, and by about 10 o’clock that morning they had managed to get past numerous traps and were standing outside of another secret door, which they hoped would lead them further into the citadel.

Upon opening this secret door, they found a small chamber where nearly a dozen paintings were hung about the walls. Each of these paintings was a portrait of an apparent nobleman and was labeled with an insulting name rather than an actual name. They noticed that a large rug in the room detected as being magical, so Gildor flew about the room and read off the names of each of the paintings. When this failed to give the band enough information to proceed any further, Aejiri attempted to move the rug. As soon as he did so however, the rug suddenly came to life and attacked him. It completely wrapped itself around Aejiri. So Nero used his spell to once again switch the places of Aejiri and Gildor. Gildor was then able to escape the rug using his ring of freedom of movement. With nobody caught inside the rug, it was then easily destroyed.

The band then decided to look behind the paintings, but when Gildor grabbed one of them, he became poisoned by a thin coat of contact poison on the frame of the painting, which caused him to lose dexterity. Gildor was able to cure the poisoning though, and the paintings were then moved using bits of the rug to grab them. Behind one of the paintings, labeled “My Favorite Sot” they found another secret door.

After opening this door, they found a much larger chamber with a tapestry hanging on the far wall. They also detected three large areas on the floor that radiated magic, as well as what appeared to be another pit trap just inside the door. Nero summoned a shadow monster with a spell and sent it into the room to see what would happen. Halfway across the room it slid into an area where more black tentacles erupted out of the floor and strangled the creature to death. Kieranen then decided to set the pit trap off intentionally and tied a rope around his waist, hoping it would prevent him from falling onto spikes at the bottom of the pit. He then discovered that he was correct about there being spikes in the pit – unfortunately though, these spikes were on the sides of the pit and when the trap door opened, the rope around his waist caused him to swing right into these spikes! After extricated himself from the pit, Kieranen then stepped into the first magic area and became convinced that it would be alright to move further into the room. Realizing that Kieranen must have been magically influenced somehow, Nicholas tried to stop Kieranen from moving any further by intimidating him and threatening him with bodily harm. When this failed to do much good, the two of them even got into a tug-of-war.

It took some time, but eventually they were able to convince Kieranen that he had fallen under the influence of some kind of magic. Gildor then flew about the room, looking under the tapestry as well, for any other means of egress from the room. But he could find nothing. The band then came to the conclusion that this entire area was nothing but a series of traps meant to thwart would-be-intruders into the citadel. So they went back outside and began looking about the rest of the citadel walls for other secret doors. They spent some time doing this. They also returned to the side door and tried to open it. It too was only a false door and was trapped with more poison gas capsules. Upon triggering this they were forced to fight the three remaining gargoyle-like guardians as well.

When the band had finally searched all of the citadel walls, it appeared they had exhausted just about every means of entry they could think of except using passwall spells or trying a different floor. So Gildor cast a divination spell and was given the answer, “Seek the door within a door.” The group then returned to a side door and there within the door they found another secret door.

After opening this door they found a passageway 30 feet long with another secret door at the end of it. However, there appeared to be two more magical traps set in the floor along the way. One by one they moved across the floor hoping somehow to avoid the effects of these traps, and they all nearly made it until it was Nero’s turn. When he tried to move to the far end of the passageway, he was suddenly struck with blindness. He was able to counter this for the most part though, by casting a spell that would allow him to see through the eyes of his familiar Raaze.

The band then moved on through the secret door and through a series of entryways lit by magical candles, until they reach the inner hallway of the citadel. At this point they were able to explore about the various rooms there, including a kitchen where an unseen servant attempted to cook something for them using the few ingredients left to it. The unseen servant then took what it had cooked and set it on a dinning room table in another nearby room. The band meanwhile looked into other rooms, most of which were being used for storage of some kind.

But as they approached another series of doors in another hallway, they were surprised by the appearance of a man’s head that popped out of the wall and began asking them who they were and what they were doing there. The band tried to explain to the being in the wall that they had come in search of the Black One to warn him about the necromancers. But it soon became clear to the being that the band had not been invited to the citadel, and it told them they would have to leave. They tried to get whatever information they could from the being.

But it was being very evasive and obviously did not want to answer any questions. It insisted on them leaving and threatened to force them out of the citadel if they did not leave on their own. Finally, when it became apparent that the band would not leave, the creature and several more of its kind attacked them.

These creatures, which called themselves grivelings and seemed to be capable of moving through stone just as easily as if it were air, were able to alter their features to make themselves appear to be human, though they often made mistakes in doing so, resulting in faces that were distorted or malformed. Using their unusual abilities, they reached up through the floor and the walls of the passageway and began striking the band members. They also had other magical abilities related to stone including the ability to cast stoneskin spells on themselves and turning stone into mud and back to stone again. This later ability they used and managed to sink Kieranen and Nicholas up to their waists in the floor where they became trapped in stone.

During the fight, Nero also tried to cast a fire spell which fizzled out for some reason. So he tried it again, but this time substituting the fire energy for force energy, an ability he had been working on since almost setting the forest on fire a few days before. This time the spell worked. Nicholas was able to free himself by using his magical collar to transform into an earth elemental and eventually, the band was able to do enough harm to the six attacking grivelings that they were forced to retreat back into the floors

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Czarn

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