Friday, 2 May 2014

PotS 1x03 - The Twisted Watchtower

These posts are from our DnD group's latest game. The current adventure is a return to the world of Eberron, and specifically Xen'drik. The pirate crew have taken to the land, and after a considerable walk, have made it to the Watchtower that looms overhead atop the gulf's cliffs. 

A Piece of History
Creatures from Xoriat, or the Realm of Madness, had once tried to take over Eberron.  Roughly 9,000 years ago, the plane had overlapped enough to allow Daelkyr and their aberrant armies to flow across and destroy the Dhakaani Empire.  The Gatekeeper Druids of Khorvaire had pushed them back, aided by at least one dragon.  Since then, Xoriat had not become close enough for another invasion to occur.

However, none of the Daelkyr were returned to their home.  They, and their aberrant creations, were trapped below in Khyber, and from there, slowly let their madness leech through their surroundings.

One such soldier - a beholder - was trapped within a tower.  It had tried to use the tower's magic to bring the surrounding lands under its rule, or failing that, find a way home.  Instead, a group of paladins led by the eladrin Zandrian Velfarren trapped and fought the beholder, unwilling to allow him access to the watchtower's power.  They fought him, but could not overpower the eye tyrant; ultimately,  they found themselves locked in an eternal struggle, as they were twisted and reshaped by its ties to Xoriat, just as it was trapped behind by their presence.  

Over the many years that followed, the watchtower remained as a bridge between the realms, neither properly within Eberron, nor quite reaching to Xoriat.  That is, until the Dread Pirate Kami and her crew arrived.

The Oozing Watchtower
The tower looked like a giant slug.  Or, more correctly, it looked like it had been created out of a giant slug.  There were windows and even a door, the parapet stood at the top, and as Ogg flew around, even the inside rooms looked to be stable.  But instead of being formed of stone, the entire thing felt like it had a squishy, black coating.

Ogg had joined the party as they left the forest, bringing fresh supplies and updates from the crew.  There had been sightings of more dragons, but after the loss of their great white, they had not risked another encounter with the pirate ship.  Wanting to prove his usefulness, the goliath stepped forward and zapped the tower's wall with his harnessed lightning, causing a flood of small black oozes to spring forward.  Though they were easy to deal with, the party agreed that an alternate method was needed.

The idea of fire was quickly brought to bear, but before a bonfire could be built, Hassan's card - Flame - was discovered to have an interesting reaction with the oozing wall.  Tvennr took the card for some experimentation, and before long, it was discovered that the ooze would back away from the card, allowing them entrance to the inside of the tower.  Unfortunately, the trip was only one way, so once they were inside, they felt distinctively trapped.

Travels through Madness
Regdar lost a wolf to the first wave of ooze-like puddings that attacked them, and Tvennr was lost within a crevice for longer than anyone was comfortable with.  But even after the ooze issue was dealt with, things only became stranger.  The tower became less solid, and more Xoriat-like, as it stretched out into the stars, and offered many portals of tentacles for them to be caught within.  Every now and then, someone would see reality amongst the maddening spectres before them, or simply see reason in what was quickly becoming a waking nightmare.  

By the end of their endeavour, half their number had been severely twisted and changed by their journey - Ogg was thinking that he was a mythical unicorn, Tvennr found it increasingly hard to wrap his tentacle-like fingers around his axes, and Urquilla kept misstepping, now that he had a third foot, but not enough legs to go around.  

Their new appendages, extra eyes, and other horrific physical changes were not as bad as Zandrian and his paladins - the years had turned them into horrific shells of their former selves, bonding weapon and armour with flesh, and causing their minds to retreat so far as to not recognise friend or foe.  The beholder, still alive and still very much not happy with his situation, fought to create more underlings.  He almost had a Hassan-statue, and a few people had segments of flesh and armour disintegrated, but they proved stronger, slaying the aberrant and, with his death, severing the tower's link to Xoriat.  Slowly, the jelly-like walls returned to their stone, and the staircase replaced the flight-through-the-stars they had to use on the way up.  

Only two of the paladins survived the battle - Zandrian, who was able to relay much of his tale to the party, once he was free of the beholder's influence, and Gernathiel, who no longer had much of a mouth to speak of (or through).  Though his return would be celebrated by his children, Analastra and Berrian, their joy would be lessened at his strange and highly disturbing appearance.

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