Interesting. I hadn’t even realized Hippogriffs were sentient but it seems Quinlin gets on with them pretty well. He hopped up on the back of one of the beasts and flew straight to the top of the tower. Ka’eo and I spent a minute watching this impressive display of flying then exchanged a look. Great flying but it didn’t do much to help us gain entry to the huge tower in front of us.
This whole place seems odd. Nezeregit they call it. Completely deserted with massive half-buried buildings sticking up out of the ground. I have to keep reminding myself why we’re here. ‘Fact finding’ I guess you could call it. Well, fact finding with Hassan’s ever present threat of death hanging over us of course. It crossed my mind more than once just to slip away but I thought better of it. I’ve learnt from past experience that wizards as powerful as Hassan have a frustrating habit of finding people, even those with my own not-insignificant skills of disappearing So there we were. Quinlin at the top of the tower and us at the bottom.
I was a little concerned for our Swordmage friend as he no longer had his enchanted sword and was making do with a decidedly mundane version. Looking on the bright side our lack of access to the tower would give me and Ka’eo an excuse to wander around and do a bit of sight-seeing of our own. We headed off down the easier of the two routes on a small track winding around to the side of the cliffs. Altogether much easier than hanging on to a hippogriff in my opinion.
I couldn’t resist having a nose around some of the caves in the area which led to an interesting little diversion with a couple of trolls. Stinking great beasts. I have to admit to being a little disappointed. I’d never run into a troll before and they have a fearsome reputation but they proved altogether too slow for the likes of Ka-’eo and myself.
It proved useful in the end as the back of the troll cave led into a tunnel system heading down into the mountainside. With the bulk of these strange buildings being underground we figured we may as well head down. We headed further down through a small fissure in the rock. It was tough going but we figured we should be able to handle it.
Unfortunately we hadn’t taken the freezing chill of an underground stream into account and the going got really hard. We eventually made it out though into a smooth-hewn tunnel and after finding our way down blocked we made our way upwards. We quickly dispatched an Ettercap that came barreling past us in a web strewn tunnel only to be engulfed in rolling flames as the webs suddenly caught aflame. Pretty safe bet the Ettercaps weren’t burning their own webs so we guessed maybe we might find our fellow adventurer up ahead. That proved true and we discovered Quinlin though he looked in a bad way and informed us he had some kind of disease. I held my tongue and refrained from the jokes about picking up diseases. I didn’t think he’d appreciate it.
We had found ourselves on a staircase leading down into the depths of the tower, the walls covered in carvings of this ancient civilization of devils. Possibly the forerunners of those Tieflings we know today.
We made our way into a truly huge underground cavern which seemed to house an entire city of deserted building. Many were temples to a variety of old gods. We pushed on and investigated a strange source of light that was only visible from certain angles. I discovered to the detriment of my sight that going too close to the statue there would blast you with some kind of radiant energy though eventually we worked out that we could approach it whilst holding the chains that were strewn around.
We pried loose a particularly shiny looking magical gem of some description from the statue and also discovered a hidden hoard of treasure carelessly left underneath. Ka’eo picked up the magic gem and some kind of circlet worn on the head.
We saw another strange sight as we left. A large black Raven swooped down to land in the city though what it was doing there underground we had no idea. Following it led us further down under the city and into a chamber with some kind of colossal construct creature guarding two doorways. Well, from my perspective guarding anything seems a little presumptuous. It assumes that something is actually yours to guard and I’ve never really held with all of this modern “ownership” nonsense. The way I see it it’s the equivalent of posting a sign saying “Please try to sneak past me”. In this case the sneaking alone proved not to be enough so the dagger option was also required.
He was a tough guy. Had some fancy trick that caused bursts of radiant power to smash down on us each time we hit. Still, we didn’t get to our level of expertise without learning a trick or two of our own.
Quinlin stepped up and held the guardian’s power in check with his own incredibly potent Aegis of Shielding. Even so it seemed like our attacks were doing relatively little damage and it felt like a bit of a stalemate, each of us chipping away at each other. That was until Avandra saw fit to favor me with a precisely placed throw of my dagger. It was as though time stood still for a short while. The first searing hit sunk deep distracting him long enough for me to land another brutal blow that also hit home with incredible force, all the time peppering him with shots from my hand crossbow. The enchantments of my dagger and bracers further increased the effects of the damage and the result left the construct literally shattered in pieces.
I’ve never been shy about trumpeting my skill with a dagger but even I was surprised. Anyway, it once again left us with the eternal question that all adventurers must face at some point. Do we take the door on the left or the door on the right……?