After having had eleven players present last week at The Gaming Goat we were back down to only seven players this week. Our DM, Jack, has been doing a great job of working with the ebb and flow of players who show up, including making sure players who are being introduced to the game are having fun and getting a proper education at the same time. He does it all in good humor while successfully ignoring the distractions of DM'ing in an otherwise busy store.
Last week the party(s) had been temporarily held up from reaching Faldyra by a bunch of ghostly dwarves and goblins. With these ghosts now facing another long term repose the party quickly moved forward towards the library. The presence of ghosts were still present on the streets of Hammerfast, but the party was able to negotiate their way through the chaos in the streets to reach the front doors of the library. The doors were locked, but a knock at the door brought Alzar Scrollkeeper to the door. The ancient dwarf librarian quickly motioned the party inside and then promptly locked the door behind them.
The library had the same musty smell that every library in time memoriam has maintained, but the party also noticed that for all the ghosts floating around outside inside the silent walls of the library there were no ghosts present. Alzar led the party through the library, past many rooms of books and scrolls, to a room deep within its bowels. There the party found Lady Faldyra deep in study, with many tomes and parchments arranged around her.
Faldyra looked up as the party arrived, quickly and firmly stated, "I have found something." Faldyra went on to explain that much of what the party had previously learned about Salazar Vladistone was indeed true. In his time, some 60 years hence, Salazar was a hero. His party had been named The Silver Company and indeed they had successfully penetrated the Ghost Tower of Inverness. While there they had discovered a great magical item and while most of the party was successful in their escape Vladistone's dear wife, Oldivya, had unfortunately been killed.
According to the texts Faldyra had been reviewing the Silver Company continued to function for many more years in the area. Over this same time though Salazar's behavior grew more and more erratic as he became known for taking dangerous risks. There seemed to be some hint that Salazar merely wanted to be rejoined with his departed wife. Salazar met his end at a dwarven monastery up in the mountains, not far from Hammerfast. In an epic battle against a host of duergar he had apparently sacrificed himself in order to save the rest of the party.
Faldyra paused for a second from her story and reached into a pile of parchments and pulled out a piece of particularly dusty paper. "The key to Salazar Vladistone," she read "was the missing magic item that the Silver Company had found in the tower." The magic item Faldyra explained was the Arrow of Time, a deadly weapon that when used would transport its victim back through time and then kill them at a time most beneficial to the one that wielded the great weapon. Faldyra went onto explain the histories of Salazar and the Silver Company grew sparse after this, and furthermore there are no further mentions of the Arrow of Time and it was assumed to be missing.
With a pause Faldyra continued and said that Salazar was too powerful and he would surely conquer the entire Nentir Vale in a straight up fight. Therefore the party had two options, neither of which Faldyra knew to be the absolute right answer. The party could go to the monastery and discover who or what had killed Salazar and then if necessary defeat it. This might require finding the missing Arrow of Time to go back in time and ensure that Salazar wasn't killed in the first place.
Or perhaps the party could go to the monastery and recover the missing Arrow of Time and return it to it's home. Faldyra further speculated that the reason the tower was unaccessable was that it wasn't "complete" and that returning the arrow would restore it's magical wholeness. Further, Brother Splintershield's protection from evil had been overcome by Salazar's magic, but Salazar still couldn't commune with his long dead wife. It was therefore likely that the magic of the tower was itself overriding Salazar's wishes.
There were a lot of unanswered questions, but Faldyra was convinced that finding the arrow was the answer and the monastery was the place to start, and with Salazar's minions attacking the city time was certainly of the essence. The party decided to take a short rest before taking off, and Faldyra provided chits that allowed the party to draw horses and passes that allowed the party to exit and enter the besieged city. She then drew a crude map to the monastery and provided the magical password that would allow the party to enter the ancient monastery. She then rooted around in a closet and found a set of +1 Dwarven Armor that was claimed by the second cleric in the party.
As the party rose to its feet to begin their trek to the monastery Faldyra had one more trick up her gauzy sleeve - she produced a ritual that restored hit points and daily powers to the party. Now refreshed and renewed the party made their way out of the library, drew their horses, and made their way to the gate to leave town. Unfortunately the presence of the exiting party had been spotted by Salazar Vladistone and as the party rode off into the mountains Salazar and several of his minions gave chase. Guards outside the city were notified and while there was no thought given that they might actually stop Salazar, the party hoped the guards might slow them down enough to allow the party to reach the monastery unhindered.
Having the horses cut down the trip time considerably and by following the map the party soon found themselves outside the huge front door an an ancient dwarven monastery. As the party members arrayed themselves in front of the huge doors Salazar and his minions rode up behind them, effectively trapping the party. In a booming voice Salazar demanded the party not enter the monastery and that he would grant the party safe passage if they would simply just leave.
Taking a hint from Faldyra's findings the paladin approached Salazar, stating the party was the answer to Salazar's pain. If the party could be allowed to enter the monastery and reclaim the Arrow of Time they would give the arrow to Salazar who could then in turn return it to the Ghost Tower of Inverness which would then be made whole, and Salazar could then again commune with his wife. At first Salazar was resistant, stating that to enter the monastery was certain death - a dragon lay inside, the dragon that had killed Salazar, plus the party could be sure the dragon had many minions of his own. Nevertheless the offer intrigued Salazar, and after further persuasion Salazar agreed to the deal. All Salazar would say further about the layout of the monastery was that the dragon lay at the bottom of the stairs.
The party arrayed themselves outside the massive monastery doors again, spoke the magic word, and the huge doors creaked open. Rays of sunlight penetrated the darkness and revealed a medium size foyer. The cleric shot a light rock into the room to bring more light into the room and as he did so the party found themselves swarmed by undead duergar - four ghouls, two zombies, and a mysterious flaming skeleton.
The ghouls and the zombies quickly moved forward and blocked the party's entrance into the foyer area. This also prevented the party members from arranging themselves into more beneficial positions, so there was nothing left to do but slug it out. The ghouls and zombies proved to be tough to hit (the party had four different attack rolls miss by 1), but the party proved to be equally tough. The flaming skeleton managed to maintain the attention of the party's artillery by throwing great balls of fire at them. All in all it looked for a moment like a real stand-off had been reached.
Then the mage executed a critical hit on one of the zombies and it died instantly. All of a sudden those oh-so-close misses began to hit and the party began to slowly push back the wall of undead creatures. And then the mage critted on the other zombie as well, plus the mage was also able to take out two of the already weakened ghouls and the rout was on.
As the flaming skeleton finally burned out the party found themselves safely in the foyer of the monastery. Behind them they could see Salazar Vladistone watching silently, ahead of them were another set of massive doors. Did a dragon really lay ahead?