The party had deciphered The Scribbler’s riddle hidden in the mad scribbling’s of his lair and had found the Sihedron Circle next to Lake Stormunder, near Rimeskull Mountain. They were then able to extract from the statues of the seven runelords the keys necessary to unlock the entrance, but the party’s actions had also drawn the attention of an ancient white dragon by the name of Akrkhyst. The heroes were able to survive the dragon’s numerous attacks, but surviving is not defeating and the heroes know that the beast was still close - and deadly. In fact the ancient wyrm had flown away and slithered in to the same cave where the heroes were now treading. In the darkness ahead lay a great mystery and great reward - and great danger.
The heroes had added another member of the party by this time as well. Kheo had conjured up an animal companion – a tiger named Skat. Kheo was completely enamored of the great beast – the rest of the party, well, not so much. Skat was content to pad alongside Kheo and seemed to follow his every command, but the remainder of the party still kept to their side of the tunnel.
The heroes worked their way through the massive cave until they came upon two twelve-foot-tall statues that flanked the large tunnel. Each held a hand upraised as if to ward away intruders, and clutched a heavy sword with the other. Between the two statues the floor of the cave became a steep incline that led down into the darkness. The bit of the passage they could see was littered with rocks and ice – traversing it would be difficult, if not impossible. One of the party dropped a rock into the darkness – the cave likely at least two hundred feet if not more into the darkness below.
The first idea was to inspect the statues. They appeared to be standard carved statues. No keyholes or buttons or levers could be seen, but a Detect Magic determined that the statue on the right was indeed magical. Now concerned about the statue animating and attacking, Stike took a mighty swing with his sword only to have the blade pass right through the illusion. This did not answer any questions, it only created more.
While stumped for the moment, Reynard and Selinor tied ropes to the other statue and Kheo started to climb down into the darkness. At the 50-60 foot mark he decided to come back up. The tunnel down wasn’t exactly straight, plus no one in the party was exactly excited about being the only one down there when they knew Arkrhyst was still around. Even Skat was adamant that he didn’t think going down the shaft was a good idea.
As the party pondered next steps they noticed the tiger staring at the illusionary statue. It took a while, but Stike determined that beyond the illusion was an invisible walkway that wound around the shaft down into the darkness below. The party took their time and crept slowly downward to ensure there were no more traps and that the invisible walkway remained passable.
The slope ended at the edge of a gaping chasm of darkness. Huge icicles hung from the ceiling and coils of mist rose up from below. A large ice covered waterfall stood in silence at the bottom of a shaft that led back up into the darkness. They could see that anyone who had fallen down the shaft would likely have received the privilege of tumbling over the side of the icefalls as well and falling another 20-30 feet to the ground below.
Reynard cast a Light spell and the party was amazed at the beauty before them. The walls of this cavern glittered and sparkled with sheets of ice. Seven twenty-foot-tall pillars, their sides encrusted with ice and engraved with ancient glyphs and runes, surrounded an eighth pillar twice the size. Several tunnels exited the central cavern and wound deeper into the mountain. The seven statues that surrounded the eighth were the seven runelords, arranged in circular order as they had been outside.
Yet perhaps the most notable feature of the room was the sparkling mound of coins, works of art, gemstones, jewelry, weapons, armor, and other things poking up from the pile that occupied the northeastern section of the cavern. From their vantage point the dragon was nowhere to be seen, but they knew they had the seven keys, and if The Scribbler’s instructions continued to be true all they would need to do is place the keys in their respective keyhole, turn twice, and they would be able to enter runeforge.
The decision was made to forego looking for the dragon and to leave the oh-so-tempting dragon hoard piled up against the wall, so they began to search for keyholes on the seven statues, and once found put the key in and give it a double twist. As they were doing this Kheo couldn’t resist the urge and walked over to the treasure pile. Despite warnings from the rest of the party he grabbed a pouch that contained six Potions of Cure Light Wounds – and promptly got hit with a blast of cold dragon breath.
The dragon had been invisibly lying in wait in a nearby tunnel. Kheo was pretty hurt, his tiger Skat killed, but rather than face the dragon the party decided to enter the magic portal that appeared as soon as the seventh key had been turned. The portal had appeared at the eighth pillar in the middle of the circle, so they decided to make a run for it.
The portal was a solid tunnel with hardened black walls that led on for several hundred feet. The tunnel led to a domed chamber that was nearly two hundred feet across. A large pool of bubbling prismatic liquid occupied the center of a raised dais in the middle of the chamber. The spiky flanges of the seven pointed Sihedron were engraved into the marble floor. Each tip of the enormous rune pointed at a twenty-five-foot-tall statue facing the pool with its back approximately ten feet from a partially concealed arched opening in the wall directly behind it. The statues were arrayed in the same order as the party had seen twice previously, but where the previous statues were a bit roughhewn these were imperious and finely detailed depictions of the seven runelords.
Reynard determined the pool in the middle of the room was magical, and was used for some sort of communication, but the mechanics of its use was not clear. Selinor touched the water, and found his hand to be instantaneously both burned and frozen, only to see that once his hand was pulled from the pool there was no damage. Selinor also reported that he had had a vision of walking in a greenish colored ooze filled room. Kheo tried to dunk a vial into the pool and received the same burning and freezing flash as Selinor, but his vision was of being surrounded by lovely women. The party decided the visions were somehow tied to the room that surrounded them.
But with seven choices to make the party wasn’t sure where to start. The passageway that led to the east was quite obviously marked with scarring and missing chunks of the walls that could be seen lying on the ground, as if some tremendous battle had occurred within the past 2-3 weeks. As the party started down the hallway a voice boomed out a resounding command: "Stop!" The source was a large disembodied human mouth that stretched across the ceiling of this section of the tunnel. It continued, "These are the Abjurant Halls of Eager Striving. Know that your powers will be crushed and you shall die! You are not worthy!"
With nothing otherwise obstructing the heroes they moved slowly forward. A wide staircase of stone descended into a large, partially caved-in chamber. The murals and decorative bas-reliefs on the walls had been blasted and fractured from what must have been a titanic war of magic. Sooty humanoid bones were scattered here and there, and flames sporadically flickered along the walls and floor as if the room still resonated with the power unleashed here. Electrical discharges sparked from a silver rod protruding from the floor in the center of the room - it almost looked like the metal rod has fused with the stone of the floor.
Kheo wanted to inspect the rod further, but the rest of the party convinced him it was best to leave it alone. They quickly moved through the room and down a hallway to the right. Several passageways led off into piles of unpassable rubble, but further to the right appeared to be an intact room. A Detect Magic revealed that along the back wall, perhaps behind a door, was some sort of magic, but to get there the party would have to get past the thick sheets of ooze that lay in pools along the floor of the room. The pool of water gave off a foul stench, and almost overwhelming stink of eye-watering mustard and vinegar.
Reynard decided to fly over the pool to inspect the back of the room when a Fiendish Mustard Jelly drew itself up from the floor. The stench was sickening and its four long tentacles lashed out at those around it. Selinor was grabbed and the creature began to constrict the life out of him. The remainder of the party fought valiantly and soon the creature was dead (DM Note: although the way the party did find out that lightning damage actually performed healing on it).
Reynard found the hidden door and inside several empty potion bottles were found, but among what was left were three Potions of Cure Serious Wounds and a Potion of Haste. Reynard grabbed the potions and the party prepared to inspect the room located on the far side of the main room. Hoping to avoid any magical attack from the buzzing and hissing rod stuck in the floor they quickly dashed across the room to the other side.
Past the initial piles of rubble rubble the party found a room where decorative lanterns illuminated this otherwise mostly bare room. A tiled path in the granite flagstones led from the entrance to three steps leading down to a mirrored surface. The circular depression formed a ring of steps descending to what appears to be a large pool filled with quicksilver. Reynard declared that this liquid – Ethillion - could serve as a boon to those who cast Abjurant spells, especially the spells of crafting.
A dozen vials were collected and with nothing more to inspect in this area the party moved back towards the great hall, only to be stunned at the sound of a dragons roar from straight ahead. The great beast had followed them here.
For tonight’s effort the party earned 20,000 XP, giving them (445,000 + 20,000) 465,000 XP earned so far, with 635,000 XP required to reach Level 15.