Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Long Game: The Iron Tower Part 2

The Long Game returns!

Welcome back! When last we left our adventurers, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar had settled down by the Iron Tower, a mysterious obelisk in the wilderness of Ferrum. The tower had drawn many a curious eye but, despite its long-standing presence, had never been breached.

After facing some threats around the tower, the three, the Vanguard of the Night, stand above a hole which seems to go under the tower.

Dallas Kasaboski

Staring down into the hole, the three could see the remains of the peryton and cadaver collector at the bottom. Alvyn signaled the Shockrosia, and showed them some flares.

"Green smoke is fly-over and extricate us, red smoke is fire on this location, yellow smoke is stay away, and purple smoke means to pick us up and prepare for trouble."

From the ship, Dwight, Kalgar's disciple, waves to him. Kalgar nods and the ship begins hovering away.

Through a combination of monk-like psionics, Kalgar's newly-developed wings, and good old-fashioned ladder climbing, the three make it to the bottom. There, they notice that they had broken into a long, stone-hewn hallway, continuing into the darkness in two directions. Along the hallway, there were countless doors to either side.

Alvyn handed over a sunrod to Kalgar, who tied it to a javelin from his pack and threw it down the hallway. As it whistled into the darkness, Alvyn said, "That seems excessive."

"What? It has been a while since I threw a javelin!"

"It's been like 5 minutes!"

With a shrug, Kalgar nods toward the light source. The size of the hallway, and the length of it, reminds the three that this land was once called, "The Giants' Barrows", and that this name may have been given for a reason.

Tong knocked on a door with the Codex Caduceus, hearing only the clang of thick stone walls as a response. Kalgar recalls the history of this area. The area, and this tower, have been undisturbed for years. Ferrum is not a real country, but a wilderness, and the tower has appeared to be mostly abandoned. The three recall the feeling of unease they first felt upon approaching the tower, the low hum in the back of their minds, and they reasoned this contributed to the lifelessness of the area.

"I have never felt negative energy used so...purposefully." Tong said.

Inspecting the cadaver collector, Alvyn noted that the majority of the machine was destroyed, shattered. The only worthwhile thing left was a small cube, 6 inches across, each face of the cube had 16 toggles, 4 by 4, with a keyhole on one side. "This appears to be the cadaver's collector's control module." Alvyn whispers.

Popping a green flare, calling the ship down, Alvyn instructed the dwarves to make a quick-release cargo hold, so that something can be dropped. Then, to look at the cube, see if it can be powered up, and then try to do that.

"Pfft, try? If?" the dwarves scoff, taking the cube and taking off.

"And, by the way, see if you can find a way to launch it."

The dwarves nod and the Shockrosia took off.

Examining the hallway further, Kalgar accidentally kicks one of the metal screws from the collector, and in the still darkness, hears the screw bounce, roll, and then...nothing.

Recalling his javelin, which he had named, Bad News, Kalgar points it at the darkness. The sunrod shows a crack in the floor leading to another hole. There was some old dried blood on the edges of the hole.

Alvyn flipped down his Goggles of Aura Sight and took a closer look, but wasn't able to get a further reading.

Tong ruffled his ephemeral robes, and makes a motion with both his palms downward. A shower of energy flowed from his head through his hands and he walked over to the hole. Grabbing Kalgar's sunrod, he walked into the hole, down the side of the wall, gravity not affecting him.

"So, that's new." Alvyn said.

"He can walk on walls now? Couldn't handle just being able to fly, he had to outdo us again." Kalgar replies.

Tong, reminded of the temple and the Reverie, of how their layouts mirrored and contrasted the reality of this plane, walks along the walls with ease. What he finds is that there are levels below the one he started on, all similar, all with long hallways and doors, and all with an extra hole, leading him deeper.

Returning to Alvyn and Kalgar, holding two handfuls of ethereal sand, he relays this information. Without an ability to open the doors, they being too heavy, the three adventurers descend deeper and deeper. Finally, after 6 levels, they notice a hole cut in the side of the wall. Contrary to the other holes, which had been rough and in the floor, this one seemed to be hewn in the wall by an ax or pick.

Through this hole, they could see a large, smooth, dome-like chamber, under which they could see a lake, an iron bridge, and small lights floating in the water. At the other end of the bridge, under the dome, they notice metalwork similar to the Iron Tower, it seemed to be a hole leading into the tower itself!

Tong stopped his friends and said, "Wait! Scroll 877: Plunge through 7 holes and darkness will befall you!"

"Good thing there were only 6?" Alvyn gibed.

"What about that?" Tong pointed toward the wall.

"That's not a hole, that's a door." Alvyn smiled. Tong fumed.

Kalgar snorted and nodded ahead. "Look."

On the bridge, they noticed a few mutated bodies crawling around. One, just half a carcass, tried to move toward them and as it did so, it fell off the bridge, splashed into the water, and the lights instantly moved toward it. Alvyn pulled out a telescope of some kind, "Hmm, 100 feet down it seems."

"This is a dark place." Tong murmured.

Alvyn hopped through the hole/door, and walked up to the bridge. Looking at the nearest body he addresses it, "How's it goin'?" The body reached toward him, and when it opened up its mouth to respond, they could see an eyeball where its tongue should be. Alvyn shouldered his weapon and fired a bolt into its head. He proceeded to the next one.

Tong followed up close behind, sensing that some of the bodies were in pain. Alvyn consulted his knowledge of arcana and shook his head, "We're too late to do much good here." As he moved to take out another one, a javelin flies over his head, pierces the next mutant, and it falls into the water. Alvyn looked back at Kalgar who already had a crooked smile and his magic javelin back and said, "I had him!"

Alvyn scooped up a sample of a mutated body and tried to feed it to his rust monster, but it did not seem interested. Entering into the dome, this is what Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar saw. The dome was 100 feet in diameter, featureless, made of the strange iron of the tower above. In the centre of the room was a pile of dead mutated bodies, above which a pipe opened up into the tower, blood dripping from it. At that moment, another body dropped from the tube, onto the pile, splatting and rolling to the bottom.

"I think you may be right about the seven holes thing," Alvyn said.

"I tell you, terror lies here!" the Canitian monk answered.

Recalling his days on the sea, when some ships were burned to avoid the spread of dragon pox, Kalgar held his breath and examined the bodies more closely. Some of the bodies were old, some were very new, and crawling among the bodies and inside the pipe were parasitic worms. Kalgar got a bad feeling about them.

Alvyn took out his vial containing the rust monster and placed it against the wall. The rust monster's antennae reached toward the wall, beginning to feed on it, but not as quickly as it should have if the wall were simply iron.

"We should burn this pile." Kalgar suggested, looking at Alvyn.

"Of course! Way ahead of you." Alvyn was pulling things out of his pack.

In a rather elaborate, but not uncharacteristic, manner, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar greased the bridge, roped off part of it, used some bodies as a brace, and placed an old shield on the midway point of the bridge as a wedge.

"Kord's blood! All this to burn a pile of bodies! You're not wrong, but ugh..." Kalgar grumbled, but helped willingly enough. Finally, their mechanism ready, Tong lit the pile with a torch, and retreated to join Kalgar and Alvyn behind the braced bridge midpoint. The pile burned hot and after some time, the pile cleared. Alvyn lit a cigar and observed the smoke rising from the pile, up the pipe. "Hmm, should have thought of that." The tower shook, a low rumble, seemingly in response to the smoke.

Kalgar approached the pipe, the floor was not too warm at this point. Looking up, he noticed that the walls were blackened and now greasy, with some parasitic worms clinging higher up. Something high above seemed to be obstructing the hole, and there seemed to be regular doors or holes along the pipe. The nearest of which was 50 feet up.

"How high can you fly?" Kalgar asked of Tong, always direct.

"Higher than the heavens...oh you meant literally, about 45 feet." Tong answered, solemnly.

Flapping his wings, Kalgar cleared the base of the pipe of dirt and debris. His wings, still new to him, could not support him, yet. So he folded them behind his back, gesturing the others over.

Embracing Kalgar, Tong whispered, "You can help me with your wings, but for this to work, you must be pure of thought." Wings of chi energy, all the colours of imagination erupted around them, launched them both up the pipe.

Looking around within the first opening, Kalgar and Tong noted that the room had only furniture; coat rack, couch, tables, and chairs. Making a loop in his rope, he lowered it to Alvyn. The gnome looked at the rope, slapping against the pipe and frowned. "Oh hell no!" he called out, gesturing for the rope to be suspended in the middle. After a delicate climb, Alvyn joined the others.

A closer examination of the room yielded only one seemingly interesting item. A chest with ornately carved feet in the shape of claws was partially open, and a skeleton arm was poking out. Using his weapon, Alvyn propped open the chest. Suddenly, the chest opened wide and clamped down on Alvyn's gun, pulling it out of his hands. "It's a mimic!"

Through his many adventures, Alvyn knew a lot about strange creatures such as these. Mimics disguised as inanimate objects and attempted to eat people, but this one was different. The arm which was protruding from the chest seemed to be part of the mimic, and had now grabbed Alvyn's gun.

Looking at each other, the three formed a battle plan without speaking, their friendship having many advantages. Suddenly, Tong slapped his hands together and teleported behind the chest. He stepped through a hole in reality, and pulled the chest through it. Stepping out, Tong dropped the chest down the pipe, down the hole, noticing as the chest hit the floor 50 feet down that Alvyn's weapon was down there.

Eyeing the weapon, Kalgar looked back and forth between his javelin and Alvyn's weapon. Reading his intention, Alvyn said, "Do NOT bring that thing up here! Even if you're trying to get my gun!" Seeing no immediate threat, with the mimic chomping down below, the three decide to wait. If the mimic would just revert back into a chest, perhaps they could get his weapon after all.

Tong closed his eyes and thought of the Reverie. As he did so, he saw Ting Tang Wong Gong, his old master who said, "Remember not to use your new stand upside down in burlesque house!" Waking up suddenly, Tong looked around, nothing had changed.

Kalgar stared at the mimic, fuming, impatient and wanting to fight something. "Soon Kalgar, soon, Tong get over here!" Alvyn directed Tong down the pipe. Diving majestically toward the floor, Tong retrieved Alvyn's weapon and as he was flying back up toward his friends, a body fell down the pipe. Spinning gracefully, Tong narrowly avoided it.

Once reunited, Kalgar immediately turned around and threw a javelin at the next nearest table, this one featuring four human legs. It bounced off, and magically returned to Kalgar's hands. The table shook and sprang to life.

"Damn it Kalgar!" Alvyn rolled his eyes at his ever-battle-hungry friend.

"There's no way out of this place except through that! What do you want me to do?" the dragonborn sneered.

"If you're going to through your javelin, at least do it right!" Alvyn directed Kalgar to attack again. As Bad News flew through the air, it pierced the table top, and flew back toward Kalgar. The paladin dropped his shoulder, allowing the javelin to return to its holster as he drew forth his katana.

Alvyn examined the table and realized it was weak but full of life. He groaned.
"When we're done here, you can tell me what I should have done." Kalgar shouted.
"You're damn right!" the gnome responded.
"What'd you wanna do, spend another hour trying to go around this garbage?"
"He can fly!"
"Yeah, but you can't!"
"He can carry people!"
"Hmm, yeah...well, I will chop it in half!"

Normal banter for these three, their philosophies in life always differing but somehow complementing. Tong rushed the table, flipping off Kalgar's shoulders, and dropping his knee as he shouted, "Seismic Knee Veda!"

The table immediately jumped straight up, slamming Tong into the ceiling, and other smaller mimics begin to awake. Stools, tiny chairs begin to surround the party. Shifting back, Kalgar began praying in draconic. The air in the room felt alive with electricity as a slight breeze appears from seemingly nowhere. Pointing to an area, lightning burst into the room, striking several of the mimics.

Alvyn shifted back, loaded his weapon, and brought it up to his shoulder. A firebolt was unleashed killing the minion in front of him and catching the adjacent foes on fire. Before the minion was killed, Alvyn had already reloaded.

Making quick work, the three managed to wedge the table into the pipe, and finishing off the other mimics. Alvyn marched up to Tong and held up his hand. Tong mirrored the gesture and then stared at him awkwardly. Alvyn high-fived him and said, "See? Good job, you know what a high-five is, we've talked about this!"

Examining the room, they spotted a set of stairs and a door at the far end of the room. Alvyn flipped down his goggles and examined what seemed to be a mimic. "Kalgar, lead on if you may."

Kalgar pulled out an old javelin and poked the door, which fell flat. Looking closer, they saw that it was a dead mimic, starved long ago, stuck in the guise of a door. Grabbing a knife from Kalgar, Alvyn begun drilling holes in the door and lashing some rope around it. "Now I've got a tower shield!", Alvyn smiled.

On the other side of the door, there was a sheet of paper which seemed to have an illustrated map of the tower. A less technical drawing, the map appeared to have been made by an amateur but had some random notes concerning the layout of the tower.

Peering into the next room, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar knew they had many floors to climb, and more dangers to follow in the Iron Tower.

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