The weekly encounters group at The Gaming Goat met this week with eager anticipation. All knew an encounter with a dragon was in the offing, but tonight the plan was to visit the room on the other side of the hallway and to not go down the stars to the supposed dragon's lair. It should be easy! Don, Steve, Daniel, Danny, Kyle, and Dustin ... uh-oh, we've got a problem - no magic users tonight. OK, maybe not so easy. Let's open the door anyway ...
Last week the party had seen that the time stasis magic that had blocked the door was now slowly dissipating. The party creaked the door open slowly, revealing a large but completely darkened room. One of the clerics threw his sunrod into the room and a huge statue with an altar in front of it could be seen. There were also several duergar statues in the room, but with no attack forthcoming the party stepped into the room to investigate further. As had happened several times already the scene in the room twisted and again the party saw the four adventurers from time past. The mage of the illusionary party spoke and said "I have a spell. Our enemies will not age or die, but will no longer be able to affect the world around us."
As also had happened before the illusion faded from view, again placing the party back into the darkened meditation chamber. As the party moved the rest of the way into the room it was further revealed that the duergar statues were really not statues at all, but were rather real duergar that had been somehow had been frozen in time. An arcana check revealed they were affected by the same time stasis spell that had been seen in other parts of the monastery, and just like the party had also seen the time stasis spell affect on the duergar was beginning to diminish in effect.
Just as this discovery was made the four duergar became unfrozen and after a second of disorientation the fight was on. The duergar wielded fearsome hammers and sturdy crossbows plus they had the ability to fire poisonous neck quills from their thick and bushy beards. The party quickly moved to deploy themselves around the duergar when the other duergar feature revealed itself - the ability to disappear. The duergar could do regular damage from their weapons, but the ability to strike while invisible provided a serious amount of damage to several different party members (Our ranger took 60+ points of damage for the evening).
The party's strategy was to concentrate their attacks on the duergar that were visible, and as the duergar eventually began to fall one at a time the remainder were eventually forced to reveal themselves and to meet the full metal wrath of the party. As the last duergar finally fell, invisible, but completely surrounded and unable to escape, the post fight quiet again filled the room. A quick sweep of the room revealed a +1 Luckblade Sword and was claimed by Daniel for his slayer.
After a short rest the party moved out of the meditation chamber and toward the stairs. The same time stasis magic still covered the stairs as well, and while the party would have likely been barred from proceeding down the stairs previously, the diminishing magical affect now left them open for passage. With the thought that the time stasis spell was also unraveling on whatever beast lay at the bottom of the stairs, the party moved forward..
Suddenly the view twisted in front of the party. The members of the party from long ago stood arguing. A much younger Salazar Vladistone stood at the top of the stairs and grimly said to the other members of the party, "You go. I will stay behind to ensure your escape."
The eladrin fighter argued back "But that is suicide. There must be another way"
The illusionary Vladistone gave a stern grin and said, "It is too long since I have seen my fair Oldivya."
Knowing Vladistone's determination the eladrin spoke, "Take the Arrow of Time with you. It may protect you throughout time."
As the illusion faded the party stood at the top of the stairs. Was there really a dragon down there? Was the Arrow of Time still down there after all these years, and what magic did it really carry? Could it really be as easy as running down the stairs and fighting the dragon? What other surprises might lay at the bottom of the stairs, or along the way?