13 Transformation 509
The party is in a large chamber that holds some sort of interdimensional gate locked in between two quartz-like pillars. There is odd Ysarian artwork sitting in the center of the room. Two intellect devourers are grappled by sorcerous black tentacles called into being by Surm. They have just slain a large illithid and are turning to finish off the other, as some foreign power attempts to grab control of Surm and Rilka’s minds from within the gate.
Savaric fires into one of the grappled intellect devourers and finishes it off.
Mõrvar casts enlarge person on himself and grows to twice his normal size. Meanwhile, both he and Surm examine the gate to try and determine if there is a way to close to close the gate. The power is magical, but so otherworldly and strange that it is hard to get a handle on it, but as near as they can tell, there are only three ways to close the gate:
1. Destroy one or both of the pillars anchoring it in place.
2. Use dispel magic against the strange magic. Though it would be more difficult than usual because of the alien nature of the magic, it would be possible.
3. There is probably some means on the other side of the gate that controls it and could close it.
Surm decides he’s going to go inside the gate and find a way to shut it down. He jumps into the tear in reality between the towers. Inside, he sees the large brain in a metal vat that could be seen through the portal. But what he didn’t see through the portal were the twenty or so illithids standing vigil in this strange, dark chamber. There is also an intellect devourer holding two rods before the open gate. Surm throws the small creature through the gate to his friends, yelling “His name is Rodly!”
The gate closes as the intellect devourer flies through to the other side.
Mõrvar goes into a rage, stomping about and wanting to kill. He attacks Rodly, who quickly disappears. Rilka and Savaric begin looking for Rodly while Mõrvar attempts to stomp through the tentacles to kill the other intellect devourer. He gets grappled by the tentacles, but attacks anyway, destroying the remaining intellect devourer.
Then, Savaric and Rilka see the corpse of one of the large illithids begin to stir. Savaric starts firing arrows into it as it rises. Rilka attacks the corpse as well, splitting it open to reveal Rodly inside. Savaric and Rilka don’t want to kill the creature because if may be able to re-open the gate so they can rescue Surm. However, Mõrvar sees the creature and charges forward and destroys it, despite Savaric and Rilka’s protestations.
Savaric charges up to Mõrvar and punches him, calling him a dumbass. Mõrvar punches him back. Rilka unloads in a rage on the eldritch knight, telling him how selfish he is for self-indulgently giving into his anger like that instead of thinking about how to help his brother. Mõrvar is unrepentant, while his sentient blade insists that Mõrvar kill Savaric for attacking him.
Surm uses dimension door to get out of the chamber he’s in and (hopefully) somewhere a bit safer. He finds himself in a long, narrow chamber, the long sides of which are lined with devices containing small vats with brains inside of each one. They pulse and and bubble from within metal bucket-like containers. Surm can hear echoes for stomping boots coming to him from the surrounding complex.
He pulls out a magical scroll inscribed with a gate spell and prepares to grab one of the “brain buckets” to take with him. He tries to cast the powerful spell—but it is too much for him, it does not cast. Now, footsteps have gotten closer, so he returns the vat and steps to the side, casting invisibility on himself.
Two illithids enter the room, obviously searching for him. He feels some type of power buffet his magical resistance, but it doesn’t penetrate. The illithids, continuing their search, exit through the other side of the chamber.
Once Surm is sure the illithids are gone, he grabs a vat and tries the gate spell again…
Back in the gate chamber, Rilka has finished chewing out Mõrvar and has retired to a corner of the room to pray for help for Surm. She calls upon Bruni to help her friend, citing his bravery in going inside the portal in order to close it. She feels her connection to the deity shiver and fade in answer…
Mõrvar picks up the two rods that Rodly brought with him and examines them. They are very strange and alien to his knowledge, but he thinks he has figured out how to re-open the portal. He moves toward the pillars to begin…
As Surm begins the work of casting the powerful gate spell, the echoes of approaching boot stomps ringing in his ears, the new portal opens almost immediately, without any effort on Surm’s part. He knows that this should have been a lot harder, because his effort was minimal. A bit disconcerted, he passes through the portal, carrying his small vat. The gate shuts behind him.
Surm is now back in the chamber of the portal with his friends. He yells at Mõrvar, “Don’t open that gate!” Every one turns, but cannot see Surm—he is still invisible. He releases the spell and then finds himself fiercely embraced by Mõrvar.
Savaric, still mad at Mõrvar, flings one of the intellect devourer corpses at him and sardonically points out how lucky he is that Surm found his own way out. Deathblow throws one of the corpses at Savaric with his telekinetic projectile power, but misses the ranger. He demands that Mõrvar kill him for his attack. Mõrvar ignores the sword as Rilka and Savaric both angrily engage with him to explain to Surm what has happened. Rilka states that she doesn’t trust Mõrvar anymore.
Surm calls for calm, reminding everyone that they are on a job. They all acquiesce and Savaric begins searching the room. Mõrvar takes his warhammer, and with the help of Kortash and Burask, destroy the gate pillars. They decide to continue on and clean out the complex. They head to the north west corner of the complex and find that one of the chambers holds yet another iron golem.
After a brief discussion, they decide that they may as well go ahead and take care of golem—or at least, see if they can.
Rilka takes Surm aside and tells him that she called on Bruni to intervene on his behalf on his behalf, because she didn’t want anything to happen to him. This seems to discomfit Surm, but he says thank you.
Savaric sets himself up for a shot from across the room, the door of an adjacent chamber. Rilka takes up a position in an adjoining room, ready to rush in if needed. Mõrvar does the same. Savaric carefully aims an adamantine arrow and fires it into the golem. It stirs to life and as Savaric continues to fire one adamtine arrow at a time, it makes its way to the doorway, though the creature is too large to pass through it. It begins pounding on the wall next to the door, forcing its way through the strange, soft, Ysarian metal.
Mõrvar sneaks up behind the creature and enlarges himself, waiting to see if Savaric manages to fell the creature.
Savaric continues to fire and just as a crack breaks through the wall and the golem begins widening it with its hands. Finally, the last arrow hits the construct and it slumps forward and stops its rampage.
Gathering together once again, they explore the remaining chambers in this wing of the complex. The only item of interest found is a deep, bottomless shaft in one chamber with the smell of sulfur pouring out it as a foul draft. They decide to enact the same plan with the other golem in the other wing.
The second golem falls in much the same way as the first, though Savaric is using powerfully magical arrows this time instead of adamantine because he used all of those.
They search this wing and only find a chamber with strangely designed furniture and a table—some sort of meeting place. Savaric is convinced that there is something they’ve missed, but is convinced to come away and leave the fully explored complex.
Outside the complex, the party does not see the young pyrohydra. Savaric does some tracking and determines that it has moved to one of the deeper caverns from here. He wants to pursue it and take it with them, but is talked out of it by the others. He really doesn’t have the means or ability to care for the beast as he’s traveling. They can notify Lord Springvale of the creature and let him send someone to deal with it. They all leave the tunnels and emerge into the camp late in the afternoon.
They are greeted by the guards and given reports of what has transpired while they were inside—which wasn’t much of anything. Rilka and Savaric stand aside and pray, which makes Surm very uncomfortable. The party gathers again and decides to head back to Almathriel in the morning.
That night, Surm has a dream.
He is sitting in a boisterous longhouse, much like the longhouses of his homeland. Mead and sweat and woodsmoke fill the air. Tales are told and songs and sung. He sits on a bench against one of the walls of the long chamber and beside him is a muscular middle-aged Northron male with a two wolves sitting at his feet. The animals seem alert but relaxed.
“Your friend sacrificed a lot for you,” the man says to Surm. “I was willing to help because jumping into the gate showed courage. I hope you are worth the sacrifice she made.” He turns to the young sorcerer and looks him in the eye. “The world as you know it is in jeopardy. Many wheels are in motion. There will be much pain and strife to come. Keep your courage. You’re going to need it.”
At that, Surm awakes.
14 Transformation 509
The Crimson Cord and their entourage pack up and march out, leaving behind Doranthanel and his mercenaries. They spend the day traveling through the old forests of the elven lands and then make a camp that night.
Around the campfire, the Cord gathers—they have much to discuss.