Dramatis Personae: Berrian, Saul, Tasklar (and Elia)
Source: “Feathergale Spire” (Princes of the Apocalypse)
A Few Surprises
As our protagonists set about discussing what to do next, the priest shouted down at them that he would give them 5 minutes to surrender or else they would regret it. “I reckon we don’t need much more than one minute,” Saul quipped to his companions.
But then, all of a sudden, Gil disappeared in a puff of black smoke, only to be replaced by a rather bewildered-looking Elia! She looked around at all the strange faces, then settled on Tasklar. “Where’s Gil?” she said.
“He was right there …” the bard replied, indicating the spot where Elia was standing. “You seem to have magicked him away.”
“Dammit! It was supposed to take me to Gil, not make me swap places with him!” Elia replied cryptically. She took a moment to compose herself. “Who are your friends, Tasklar? And where are we?”
After a brief round of introductory conversation, Elia got the feeling that she knew Saul somehow, but he wouldn’t admit to being Keth reincarnated. Tasklar also explained to Elia the current situation, and she agreed to help them out. As the group got back to planning the next phase of their attack, Bhára collapsed in a heap on the ground. No one had any idea why, and nothing could shake her out of her coma. Berrian decided to hide her body under the lord commander’s bed. He promised his sister he’d come back for her.
Hoping that would be the last of the surprises for now, the group resolved to tie a rope to the door handle, unbar it, then yank the door open in hopes that any spells or attacks the enemy had ready would be wasted. Then Berrian would charge out into the hall with his shield at the ready to protect the others.
Unfortunately, before they could enact this plan, a wispy form came down the chimney and whirled out into the form of an air elemental! It immediately attacked, attempting to pound the heroes with blasts of air and toss them about the room, but they proved to be too tough for it. Standing their ground, they slashed, poked, and magicked it away into nothing. During the fight, Saul was rather taken aback to see Elia using magic as well as she caused hellish flames to sear away some of the elemental’s substance. Where on Erathis had she learned to do that?!
The Plan of Attack
With the elemental dealt with, our heroes proceeded with their plan and yanked the door open from across the room. Nothing happened. Berrian advanced into the hall. Nothing. He checked the other rooms. Still nothing. As the others emerged from the lord commander’s room, the elven paladin gestured up the stairs. Tasklar turned Elia invisible and she snuck up to the pinnacle so quietly that no one could even tell that she’d gone. When she returned, she reported that a guy in white robes with a bird-like mask was standing at the ready on one side of the grassy lawn, while a bird-man was waiting on the other side. Several knights riding giant vultures were circling the tower. And it looked like a storm was brewing out there, too.
Nevertheless, they charged up the stairs, taking the fight to the enemy. Tasklar went up first and lost another eye to a readied magical strike from the bird-man. Ignoring his attacker, however, Tasklar turned to the air priest and unloaded fireballs on him. Unfortunately, the priest turned out to be quick enough to avoid the brunt of the blasts. Berrian ran out to engage him in melee, only to have the priest call down a bolt of lightning on him. The priest then flew up onto the roof of the pagoda, out of the range of Berrian’s blade.
Meanwhile, Elia was firing shots at the bird-man, who was blasting the group with spells. At one point, he swooped down and, as they were all nicely lined up inside the pagoda, sent a lightning bolt surging through them. At the same time, the knights on their vultures were flying past, taking potshots at the heroes with rays of frost.
Without Bhára’s spellpower, this proved to be too much for our heroes. They opted to retreat down to the armory by the entry hall. Grabbing bedding from the knights’ rooms (as well as the still unconscious Bhára) on the way down, they heaped it up in the stairwell on the ground floor and lit it on fire, then closed the doors to the entry hall and, at Elia’s suggestion, started cutting down the eagle-shaped battering ram with the intention of using it to barricade the inner doors.
Before they could, however, the doors burst open, revealing Whisper, the air genasi monk, and two initiates with crossbows. “Did you really think you could get away?” asked Whisper.
Tasklar attempted to parlay with her, but she was having none of it. She was dedicated to helping bring about the world’s destruction so that people could leave unfettered by physical things. She hit Tasklar with a fist of compressed air, blasting him back into the front doors and knocking him unconscious. The others moved in to retaliate, with Saul moving close enough that his guardian falcon spirits could do their work. The initiates died quickly. Whisper didn’t last much longer. The heroes rejoiced when the “blue bitch” collapsed onto the ground.
A Few More Surprises
While attempting to rest in the armory, our progatonists were surprised by another cloudy form slipping through the cracks. Only this one didn’t turn out to be an air elemental. It was Azoth the air priest himself! And in each hand he held a leather bag. “You must let go your earthly tether! Enter the void! Enter and become wind!” he shouted, as he shoved one bag into the other. Immediately reality was torn asunder and the heroes found themselves being sucked into a silvery void.
The priest was also sucked through, and then the rift closed. They were trapped! The priest continued to cackle maniacally until the heroes silenced him. They then tied each other together with rope so they wouldn’t get separated. Looking around, they found themselves surrounded by an endless silver sky filled with distant clouds. Here and there were strange roiling shapes of color. None of them had any idea where they were.
Suddenly the sky in one area started to rapidly darken, and the heroes found themselves being buffeted by a psychic wind composed of lost dreams and memories. All but Saul were able to resist the psychic storm; the halfling, however, was stunned by the overwhelming psychic surge. Saul was also dragged into a swirling pool of flaming red. Still attached to him by the rope, the others decided to follow.
They found themselves standing on a massive iron cube, cracked and pitted and rusty, floating in an airy void. It was cold here, unlike in the last place. They could see other cubes of varying sizes floating all around. As they watched, two cubes collided with a loud clang. They could also hear the sound of a massive battle taking place somewhere nearby. Wandering over to take a look, they found two massive armies of orc and goblin spirits attempting to slaughter each other. Not wanting to disturb them, they retreated to the edge of the cube and had a look over the side. They just found more of the same.
Where the hell were they?!