The Shackled City

Through the Backdoor

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19 Reaping, 592 CY (Continued)

After discovering (almost the hard way) a crushing wall trap in the narrow secret hallway, Deg disabled the hazard and proceeded around a dogleg, finding himself in a small chamber containing a number of odd things. A woman lie atop a stone altar to the south and looming over her was an emaciated creature with a birdlike face and six arms. The monstrous humanoid seemed to be chanting and gesturing with each appendage in a ritualized manner. He felt his mind come under attack from an unseen source, and decided that he should strike back, targeting the six-armed creature from a hidden position on the low ceiling.

Undead shadows and a ridiculous number of spells followed in this battle, and as each of the adventurers entered the small chamber, they felt their minds assaulted by the same unseen malignant energy. Each resisted the mental attack, but the spell weaver (the seasoned adventurers recognized the creature from their time in Karran-Kural) physically weakened half the party and opened them to attack from the strength draining shadows as well. Deg was forced to flee, and Greyjek was left physically paralyzed on the floor. His mental faculties, however, were left uninhibited and he was able to put an end to the spell weaver.

Bransen turned the shadows, which fled into the walls, while Jarvyk and Ashton moved forward to look on the woman. They saw a gem sitting on her chest, and the magus determined that it was the component necessary for a magic jar spell. He instructed the paladin to destroy the gem, and Jarvyk readily complied, forcing the woman’s consciousness back into her body and “waking” her from the stasis that her spellcasting had brought on.

The woman cursed them and rolled off the altar to stand atop the fallen spell weaver. She retrieved a curved metal tine from the corpse and cast a plane shift, fleeing Shatterhorn. Greyjek tried to divert the teleportation, but either she resisted the attempt or it had no effect on her spell. The weakening spells were dispelled and the lost strength was mostly restored to the adventurers before they looted the spell weaver and poked around the room.

Deg found another secret door which opened up into a narrow shaft leading down. He climbed down the ladder within and cautiously opened another secret door at the bottom of the deep vertical passage. He exited a pillar in another large chamber with a thirty foot ceiling and saw a massive egg-shaped rock supported by a metal claw of some sort. A female elf stood near the egg, while a drow stood atop a balcony on the north wall overlooking the chamber, but neither of the fey seemed to have noticed him. He retreated stealthily back into the pillar and up the shaft to report what he’d discovered.

Sage suggested that the adventurers seek out an alternative means by which to enter the room, so that they wouldn’t all have to squeeze down a shaft and out of a pillar, putting them at a disadvantage from the start. They agreed and Deg used another of his special abilities to seek out another path. The group found themselves back near the statue of the yuan-ti priest at the east end of the serpentine hall, and they asked Deg to stop a moment and check it out. He did so and discovered that the statue and its base could be rotated. Jarvyk twisted the statue so that it was facing east instead of west, and this released another construct, a human-sized snake that appeared to be made of crystal.

The construct blasted the adventurers with sonic energy and tried to bite them. Bransen, protected from the sonic bursts by one of Ashton’s spells drew upon his own magic to increase his size and strength. Then he grabbed hold of the crystal snake and held it in place while Jarvyk beat it to pieces with one of the adamantine axes they’d taken from the bodies of the half-iron golems. Once it was dispatched and the party’s wounds were tended, Deg was sent into the chamber behind where the snake had exited to investigate what lay beyond.

He came running back moments later, being chased by a vampire with a billowing smoky cloak. The Silver Phoenixes recognized her as one of the assassins hired by Thifirane Rhiavadi before the volcano had almost erupted. The halfling escaped the undead monk and her dread wraith “cloak,” allowing the others a shot at the pair. Greyjek put himself at great personal risk to blast each with disintegrating rays, and would have suffered heavily for it but for the magic of his scarab of protection. His efforts were rewarded when the vampire was reduced to ash, and then Bransen turned the dread wraith, which fled into the wall as had the shadows before it.

One last surprise awaited the adventurers in the sarcophagus the vampire had been using. When Jarvyk shoved the lid off, a single shadow reached up and stole a measure of the dwarf’s strength. It was destroyed moments later, but the damage had been done.

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