The Reign Of Winter
Hermann's Tales 10
With our party in a sorry state we decided to press on quickly, and to not stop and talk to the inhabitants of the tower, as they are all allied with evil, or evil themselves. We would just kill them as quickly as we could.
The next room we came to contained none other than Giorgio‘s Bard lady friend, the half-goat woman. We stopped to talk to her, which confused me. I expected us to attack her as another Doppleganger, but she seemed to have correct answers to our questions. Even so I was uneasy – given the attack that followed our last meeting with her, surely she was actively working hand-in-hand with this land’s oppressors? And should we not stop her doing so?
Well, instead of attacking her it was decided to tell her to go, and if we saw her meddling again we would end her. Letting her go felt wrong to me, but I decided to bow to the wisdom of Benedictus in this matter.
We continued investigating and came across the scene of my lone battle against the two fairies. I found it faintly amusing that whilst I had been fighting for my life, all alone against these fiends, my stalwart Dwarven allies were only two doors away, bravely guarding an empty corridor.
The next room contained a kitchen, and the fairy that was the kitchen’s chef. Once again we decided to not attack immediately, and once again we paid the price. The fairy grabbed a Morning Star, grew to an obscene size, and attacked. In the ensuing melee both Kjell and Giorgio were knocked unconscious again – their wounds having only slightly healed since their stupid ‘duel’. Still, my trusty spear helped us again to secure victory, and we used up the last of our healing to get our comrades upright again.
The next room was a herb garden, which Benedictus said probably contained enough rare herbs to make a healing balm, but as we gathered the herbs he required, one of the plants charged out at us. I immediately felt ill, as did most of the party, and while we were throwing up it was down to Benedictus and Lazarus to save us. The battle was long and hard-fought with honour, and just as we were able to act again Lazarus dealt it a telling blow, effectively ending the fight.
By this point most of the party were sorely bruised and battered, with just me and Idrin being reasonably unwounded. I myself had not been harmed since being fully healed during the ‘duel’, and Idrin, well his Dwarven pride would prevent him from ever admitting he was the worse for wear. So we were the front line, with the rest of the fighters working as support.
The last room on this level turned out to be a library containing an Elf. She was obviously in league with Irrisen’s oppressors, as she was left to browse through their knowledge. Upon seeing us, she brandished her great sword, ready for a fight. Well, we had finally learned from the earlier rooms that talking here was pointless, so we rushed her before she could start killing us. As we fought her I became aware of an useful side-effect of using a long spear – if someone wanted to attack me, they had to move to do so, which left them open to counter-attacks. Idrin made good use of this fact, and between us, and with the help of the rest of the party, she was easily bested. As the rest of the party searched her (and found a new tower key) I said a silent prayer over her body, and hoped that she would make better choices in her next life than she had in her last.
Clutching this new key we all stood on the transporter pad and appeared on a new level, in a room dominated by a huge magical globe (apparently representing the world, which I know is wrong, because the world is flat, like it shows us on the maps). Working on and protecting this globe was Radosek, the male witch in charge of the tower.
As I was already holding my longspear I ran up to him, trying to kill him before he could cast magics. I failed to wound him, but thankfully Lazarus’ aim was better. It was still not enough to stop him from summoning two alligators, that immediately attacked us alongside his goat familiar. I bravely forewent dealing with my alligator in favour of keeping the pressure on Radosek, wounding him slightly. Thankfully Giorgio and Idrin made short work of both alligators before closing on Radosek himself. Radosek, having seen his probable defeat at hand, escaped by leaping out of the window, still three stories up.
Idrin decided that Radosek was a far more pressing foe than his goat, and threw his handaxe at the witch, disrupting the spell he was casting. Lazarus and I joined him at the window to rain down ranged death upon him, but he retaliated by casting a flurry of lethal snowballs at us. Lazarus went down, and Kjell called for help from the magical crow, Lytil. Together we all proved too much for the witch, and he keeled over in the face of our onslaught. It was only after we had killed the goat that we realised Lazarus had succumbed to his wounds, and according to Benedictus had been dead before he hit the ground, partly frozen by the magical assault.
With a heavy heart we secured the rest of this level, revealing yet another transporting pad and an associated key. I found a magical but unidentifiable ring, which I wore, and a wand that I realised could cast Color Spray, a minor but useful mage spell. I got to test this sooner than expected when we stepped onto this new pad and appeared at the very top of the tower, in the crow’s nest. As it were.
The crows were flocked around us, literally hundreds or thousands of them, and remembering how much trouble a relatively small number had been a few days earlier I immediately shot the wand at them. This put them out of action long enough for the rest of the party to swamp the keeper of the birds, who did not last long under the assault. As she died, the crows that were able to flew away, being released from her control.
The tower secured, the next few hours were taken up jointly between preparations for Lazarus’ funeral and trying to work out how to use the globe to close the portal to Heldren. Benedictus, it turned out, was the key to both, as the great magics involved were far beyond my meager level of understanding. It took three hours, but with everyone’s help we managed to shut down the portal, marooning us in Irrisen. Mind you, given we were under a geas to find Baba Yaga, we would not be needing a path home for quite a while, if ever at all.
After we loaded up our sleds, Benedictus gave a sermon and commended Lazarus unto Sarenrae‘s care and lit his funeral pyre. A touching act, and after pausing a short while to reflect on his heroic deeds, we set off from before any of the tower’s patrols returned.