Caster's Cradle

Mission Complete

The group made their way to the Dragon’s chambers. Luckily, the bugbears had not disposed of him first and he lay where he had been found by the group the first time around. They prepared him to be carried back, but left him for a short time while they looked for the second piece of their quest: the Dragon’s encrypted journal.

“The journal is probably further up in the tower,” Alhazred said to the group. Kraown stood on guard as the others inspected the Dragon’s chambers for the journal.

“Let’s try to get past this puzzle,” Stromm said, making for the door. The others nodded in agreement and followed Stromm up past the first puzzle to the fourth floor.

Rutty was the first to approach the stone doorway and read the riddle.

__Though my lands grow less and less
Where I rule, I can oppress

I can’t be heard and have no beholder
But I am found near shivered shoulder

One more clue I grant you now
Of precious metals I am made
Not hard to find me, but I can’t tell you how
In dormant kettles I have stayed__

Kraown grunted disapprovingly and left, making his way downstairs presumably to act as a lookout. Rutty began to investigate everything in the room for any possible indication of the solution. Alhazred and Thud argued about which spells to try. Eventually, the group came across a set of scrolls they hadn’t noticed before. Rutty loaded them into his arms and brought them to the attention of the wizards. “Anything in here?” he asked.

“Where’d those come from?” asked Thud confused.

“Just over there,” Rutty said pointing his chin over a shoulder.

“Hmm,” Thud knit his brows and began to look through them. " Scrolls of Silence and Invisibility."

“Silence! Silence could definitely work.” Alhazred said, grabbing at the scroll.

“I have to do it,” Thud said, “I’m the cleric.”

“Well, let’s see about that!” Alhazred said, unfurling the scroll. He began to read aloud an incantation. As his reached the end of the scroll, a burst of arcane energy rained down in a large arc from the ceiling. Everything inside the room fell suddenly, deafeningly, silent. Alhazred looked at the empty doorway. The shimmer of arcane energy that had acted as a forcefield faded away to reveal a staircase. Alhazred grinned and said something. When not even he himself heard the words, he grew bashful – of course, the spell. Alhazred made for the door, beckoning the others to follow.

As they reached the stop of the staircase, the group’s hearing returned.

“How come you could read it?” Thud asked Alhazred, “That’s not an arcane spell, it’s divine.”

Alhazred shrugged, “Don’t know, but the Dragon was a very powerful wizard, he seems to have found an arcane corollary incantation that creates silence. Let’s make sure to copy it from him. Wouldn’t want the knowledge to get lost to the ether!” Thud looked a bit confused but nodded.

Looking around, they could see that they had entered into another large marble room, this time with a pool in the center. Stromm walked up to it and leaned over the edge, “Can’t see much in there. Well, let’s see what happens when I-” he stuck his hand into the pool. Almost as soon as he had, he felt a horrible pain shoot up his hand and into his shoulder. To Stromm it resembled the feeling of being plunged into ice water, but much much worse. He withdrew his hand with a cry and clutched it to his chest. “Nope,” he said with a grimace.

“Throw something in there, maybe we can see how deep it goes,” Alhazred suggested.

“I’ve got a ball bearing,” Stromm answered, fishing in his purse with his good hand, “Here.”

Alhazred took the ball bearing from Stromm and dropped it into the pool. The ball sank into the pool normally for about a foot before coming to a complete stop. It hung there in the pool as if suspended by an unseen force.

“What the hell? Here, let’s try again.” He gestured for another of Stromm’s ball bearings. Stromm flicked one in the elf’s direction, unsure what he had in mind. Alhazred spoke an cantrip under his breath and with a flourish of his hand, the ball bearing in his palm began to glow brightly. He cast the ball into the pool. This time it sank all the way to the bottom, revealing something like a door a mere 20 feet below. “Damn, it’s magic water.” Alhazred said. He pushed himself back from the lip of pool and began to pace back and forth, all the while muttering.

“Wizards.” Stromm said, shaking his head. Thud looked at him sidelong with a grin, not knowing if Stromm’s comment was meant to be about the Dragon or their companion. Rutty turned away from the pool and began to look around, using his roguish ways to discern whether the room had any traps or other secrets.

He made his way to a bookshelf, covered in tomes like the others. Scanning the shelf he noticed a dark strap had become looped around one of his feet. He bent down and tugged on it revealing a satchel partially obscured by shadow. Upon further inspection Rutty could see that the bag’s flap was adorned with a smiling face of a red, green and yellow creature. “Woah! A bag of holding!” Rutty cried, pulling it from its corner and holding it up. The others looked up excitedly. “We can use that to carry all these bodies back to the Academy,” Stromm said.

Meanwhile, Alhazred hadn’t noticed Rutty’s loot, instead he had been trying to meditate on a spell that would allow him to remove the water from the pool or perhaps something to cast upon himself that would allow him to move through it unharmed. As he did this, he began to feel a strange sensation around his neck. The feeling intensified with each passing minute, to the point where he almost began to feel as though he were suffocating. He whirled toward Thud, gasping and gurgling as he fell to his knees. Thud rushed over in shock as Alhazred pawed at his neck in confusion.

Thud’s healing instincts took over and he began to examine the cause of Al’s discomfort. Alhazred had been clawing at his neck, but Thud couldn’t see any cause as the large necklace Alhazred was wearing obstructed his view. The necklace had been the Dragon’s, it was a beautiful gold collar from the ends of which dangled small pieces of red coral. Thud pulled it off and set it aside to get a better look, but just as he did, Alhazred’s breath returned to him. “I’m…I’m okay…” he said breathing heavily.

Stromm looked from Alhazred to the necklace and back and yelled, “Give me that necklace!” With a swift hand, he scooped it up and threw it around his own neck. Quick as lightning, the burly sailor ran to the edge of pool and gracefully dived in. Water splashed over the lip as Stromm disappeared from view. The others ran to the pool’s edge just in time to witness Stromm pulling open the latch of the trap door.

Suddenly they were all standing in another doorway, one that lead into a small cosy study. Stromm pulled the necklace off himself and returned it to Alhazred. “Amulet of Adaptation,” Stromm quirked his mouth, “Let’s the wearer breathe in any environment, remember?” Alhazred looked sheepishly at the necklace in his hand and nodded, “Oh, yeah.”

Stromm clucked his tongue and walked past the elf into the room. They looked around, nearly every inch of the walls were covered in shelves overflowing with strange objects, tomes and trinkets. Looking out one window, it was clear they were now very high in the tower although the floor did not correspond to how many flights of stairs they had taken.

Thud, who stood at a table on the opposite side of the room, let out a cry, “Got it!” He turned and held up a tome to the rest of the party. “It’s not in any language I’ve ever seen, I think this is it!” It looked like a simple leather bound journal, however the writing inside was made of a combination of unrecognizable symbols and letters. They also appeared to change periodically if one looked at them for long enough.

“Good. Then let’s be on our way,” Rutty said while stashing a trinket into his robe, “We’ve got to get this to Ilona.”

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Nezaroth

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