BK
01
CH
03
SC
04a

The Doors Beyond
A Soot-Laden Cellar

…continues from Book #01, Chapter #03, Scene #03b

Synopsis

The 14th Day of Ches in the Year of the Sudden Journey
Khalin and Tradden have set off for the island in the middle of the lake to explore the Tower of the Mists in the hope to bring Kireth some further texts to translate.

No sooner have they stepped on the island when they are attacked from above! After a brief battle with some stirges they enter the ruins of the tower, only to be confronted by a clutch of spiders.

With no luck investigating the upper floors of the tower the pair find an entrance to a basement where they are immediately attacked by yet another strange creature.

For a chapter summary please see Chapter #03 Summary.

Cast List

Khalin Grundokri

3rd Level Male Dwarven Marshal (Warlord)

Tradden Aversward

3rd Level Male Human Weaponmaster (Fighter)

Scene Length

This scene started on Friday 31st December 2010 and completed on Monday 3rd January 2011.

Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Silence fell in the tower, broken only by the lungfuls of air gasped by Tradden. The young fighter and the dwarf looked at each other after the spider had been hewn in two and a mixture of relief and concern passed their faces.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Tradden sheathed one sword on his back and used the other to poke around the clutter and stones around the base of the tower, just in case there were anymore of the arachnids hiding.

‘That was a good trick,’ he mentioned to Khalin. ‘You… did mean for me to kill it, right?’

A thorough poke with a sword revealed no further surprises amongst the stones, cobwebs, and smashed barrels at the foot of the stairs.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Seeing nothing of note in the ruins, and studiously ignoring the eyebrow now raised by the dwarf in answer to his last question, Tradden looked around to see what their next step would be — was there a door, trapdoor or similar that could hold further dangers?

[Tradden Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 4] - critical failure!

Tradden saw, he saw — yes, it was most definitely, indeed, yes, Khalin would be proud of him spotting that — oh, its nothing.

The most obvious exits to Tradden were those the way they had entered the ruins, or up the stone staircase to the floor above.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘Up, I guess,’ said Tradden. It was more of a statement than a question.

‘Shielded-ones first?’ he continued, with a shiny white toothy grin, making a complicated bowing and gesturing motion to his companion.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

A small dwarven oath issued from under Khalin’s breath and then the dwarf hefted his shield and hammer once more and concentrated upon the stairway. Tradden followed into step behind, cleaning his sword casually on his thigh.

Cracks in the walls allowed enough light to illuminate the first floor in an eerie shade and Khalin found it fairly easy to see. Tradden struggled somewhat in the gloom and started fishing in his pack for a torch. When the young fighter finally held aloft his illumination he found a scene of what appeared to be devastation. It was hard to tell what the floor had been used for, but rubble and timber lay strewn around the floor. Nothing of any note remained.

‘Hmm, still warm here,’ stated the dwarf, somewhat to himself.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘What’s warm?’ said Tradden distractedly, peering through a gap in the brickwork and looking back out over the bay.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘The whole tower — can’t you feel it?’ replied Khalin, already moving to the bottom of the next stairwell and peering up. ‘A bit less so here, but warm nonetheless.’

Khalin started to climb the stone staircase gingerly.

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 8] - failure!

As the dwarf moved slowly up the staircase there were a couple of ominous cracks and then the step that Khalin was on gave way!

[Crumbling Stair]

[Trap Attack: 1d20+6: 18 vs Khalin’s Reflex (13)] - hits!

[Damage: 2d6+1: 10]

Khalin’s foot went through the crumbling masonry and he slipped down the stairs in an ungainly fashion.

From the bottom of the staircase Khalin looked up at Tradden, now standing above him, concerned. ‘Erm, careful up there,’ said the dwarf with a blush. ‘It’s not entirely safe!’

[Khalin spends 2 Healing Surges and regains 14 hit points]

The warlord rubbed his ankle wistfully.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘Hmm,’ said Tradden, now carefully ascending — torch in one hand, shortsword in the other, which he used to tap and prod each step. He tried to stay focused and detect any further possible problems before they arose.

[Tradden Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 10] - success

Tradden negotiated the staircase and raised his head above the floor level as he ascended. Larger cracks in the walls allowed shafts of light to illuminate the floor quite well and Tradden extinguished his torch.

There were more solid remains on this level that gave some indication as to its previous use. Warped planks of wood belied the remains of old bookcases, although any books seemed to have disintegrated long ago.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘This must be where Valino found those other tomes,’ said Tradden, poking the remains with the point of his sword. ‘Doesn’t appear to be much left now.’

Disappointedly he looked at the shattered remains of the staircase leading up. ‘Doesn’t look as though there’s much left further up, either.’

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 2] - critical failure!

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 16] - success!

A good look around the floor revealed nothing of interest to the pair.

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 5] - failure!

‘I’m not sure Kireth would have sent us here on a wild goose chase, though,’ stated Khalin. ‘Let’s head back down to the warmth and grab a bite to eat — all this rowing and fighting has made me hungry!’

With that Khalin carefully descended the stairs to the bottom floor, with a dejected Tradden behind him.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Back on the ground floor, Khalin moved absentmindedly to the warmer corner of the tower to the northwest. Grabbing a ration from his pack he sat down on the warm floor to eat his trail food.

‘At least that Skillet packs a decent meal,’ the dwarf said between munches.

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 12] - failure!

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 11] - failure!

‘Aye,’ replied Tradden, and sat on the wooden part of the floor here to open his own rations.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘Sho,’ asked Tradden, his words obscured by the slice of pie currently being consumed. ‘Why would, chomp this old tower have a warm shectshun chomp. Ish it Dwarvish?’

Tradden was thinking of tales he had been told by Old Mr Ironfoot of the dwarves using hot water springs to heat their often magnificent constructions.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘I’m not sure,’ replied Khalin, continuing to munch on his rations. ‘I’ve been trying to work that one out for a wee while. Pass me that ale, would you?’

Tradden grabbed the skin of ale that Skillet had provided and tossed it across to the dwarf. Khalin fumbled the catch and it bounced on the wooden floor, the stopper coming loose. Golden ale flowed out of the flask and over the wooden boards. Khalin cursed and quickly tried to recover the skin before all of the ale escaped.

‘Just not my day today, I guess,’ muttered the dwarf, watching the ale seep away through the cracks in the boards.

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 12] - failure!

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 22] - success!

‘Wait a minute,’ gasped Tradden, and started to push Khalin to one side.

‘What do you think you’re doing, lad?’ muttered the dwarf with a scowl.

‘Look!’ offered Tradden, sweeping debris and dust away from the wooden boards revealing a square trapdoor. ‘Why didn’t we see this before? Where’s Zero when you need him, eh?’

The wooden boards formed a perfectly square door, complete with an iron handle in the southern end.

‘Shall we?’ beamed the young fighter.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Tradden went to lift the hatch — but then stopped himself, mindful of electic shocks and the like in the past. He had watched Zero work a few times now — maybe something had rubbed off and he might see a trap?

[Tradden Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 12] - success!

The trapdoor looked like a perfectly normal wooden trapdoor to Tradden.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘Hmm. Oh, well, we need to check one way or the other.’ stated the young fighter.

He re-lit the torch he had used earlier and with his other free hand he opened the trapdoor and had a look.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Tradden gingerly opened his eyes as the trapdoor opened without any incident. Waves of warm air flooded up from below.

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 10] - success!

A thin cloud of soot rose from the underside of the trapdoor and dispersed into the air above the pair’s heads. As Tradden pulled the trapdoor all the way back past the vertical there was an ominous “click”, almost causing the youth to drop the handle, but nothing untoward seemed to happen and the trapdoor locked into place.

As Tradden waved the soot away from his face, Khalin peered down into the darkness below. A simple stone spiral staircase led downwards and away into the dark where even the torch couldn’t penetrate.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘Once again, my bravery is not in question my friend, but on the other hand you have a shield! Please be my guest…’ Another flourishing bow followed.

It occured to Tradden that Valino and his men may never have found this hatch. Were there any tell tale signs that they did?

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 10] - success!

Judging by the release of soot perhaps they hadn’t.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Khalin peered into the darkness…

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 12] - success!

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 6] - failure!

Khalin wondered whether the venom he’d ingested earlier was still dulling his senses, or perhaps he just needed a good night’s sleep. Still, there was some dim light below from somewhere, and no nasties immediately apparent. The dwarf raised his shield cautiously and carefully descended into the gloom.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

It was times like this, when there was a dark passageway likely full of danger to be negotiated, that Tradden looked at Khalin’s shield and wondered about the merits of fighting with such a stout form of protection.

He had a sudden vision of himself and Khalin stood, ready and able, at the outside of the tower, both resplendent in fine armour and with shields. Odd, Khalin looked taller in the vision. The vision-Tradden had a fine kiteshield on one arm instead of a blade.

‘Naaaaaahhhhhhhhh,’ he said to himself, as he followed the dwarf down the stairs, holding the torch up high and looking for brackets to light as he went.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

The stone staircase led down at quite a tight angle, the pair’s view obscured by the walls at either side and lit only by the torch held aloft in Tradden’s hand at the rear and by a faint glow from what appeared to be the bottom of the stairs.

After a few cautious moments, with both heroes trying to be as quiet as possible, Khalin held up his hand, motioning for Tradden to stop. The youth could hear the dwarf sniffing and then grumbling to himself.

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 5] - failure!

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 17] - success!

Khalin started forwards again and Tradden sniffed for himself.

‘Wait!’ the young fighter hissed and quickly started to extinguish his torch. There was something in the air that Tradden didn’t like the smell of.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

The dwarf stopped and turned to Tradden. ‘We’re at the bottom just round this last bend — another ten steps or so. What’s the matter?’

‘Can you smell that in the air, Khalin?’ asked Tradden. ‘Smells like those sarcophagi in the mausoleum. Well, not the same, not as fishy, but similar.’

‘Hmm, you’re right, lad,’ Khalin replied after a moment. ‘Well, let’s proceed with even more caution then. You alright to see?’

‘Yes, of course,’ lied the youth. ‘Lead on.’

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Khalin reached the bottom of the stairs, facing west, ten or so feet from the tower wall, and giving no indication of the room beyond. The last few steps had revealed a soft light from below with a reddish tint and the dwarf had noticed the amount of soot covering the stone steps and clinging to the walls of the staircase.

At the bottom of the stairs it was simple to see the source of the light — alcoves cut some six or seven feet into the walls contained what appeared to be a flickering red flame, illuminating the area with that soft tint.

Khalin crossed to the wall and placed his back against it, motioning for Tradden to follow suit. They shuffled around to the north and surveyed the area.

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 14] - success!

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 19] - success!

The room appeared to be larger than the tower above, some fifty or more feet across, although remained circular. Soot covered most of the area, hiding forms and shapes in the dim light, but the pair could make out what appeared to be a heap of garbage directly in front of them, a large table to the southwest covered with implements, and a large cabinet or bookcase to the southest. Directly to the south was a strange contraption, built into the far wall, that looked like a giant gate.

Beads of sweat ran down Tradden’s forehead and he absent mindedly wiped them away with his sleeve.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

‘You weren’t wrong about it being warm around here,’ sighed Tradden. His voice sounded muffled — no echoes seemed to escape the layers of soot.

Khalin bent down to examine the garbage pile at their feet.

[Khalin Perception Check: 1d20+1: 4] - failure!

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 14] - success!

Most of the garbage appeared to be bits of old leather, fairly well preserved, perhaps by the thick layer of soot.

‘Looks chewed!’ joked Tradden as Khalin held a long strip aloft, then nervously looked about.

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Storyline
The Tower of the Mists

Khalin dropped the leather piece and headed cautiously over to the cabinet or bookcase. As he neared he gasped. ‘Tradden, quick, over here!’ he called. ‘Looks like we’ve hit the jackpot for Kireth!’

The furniture was indeed a bookcase and was covered with a number of texts. There didn’t appear to be any soot covering the spines of the tomes, much to Khalin’s relief.

As the pair started to examine them, they both heard a scuttling sound from the other side of the room, and whirled about quickly.

At the far side of the room, beyond the great table and near the strange gate there was an evil looking shape. It was the size of a pack animal and yet seemed neither mammal or insect, a cross between the two. Four insectoid legs attached to a main body with a long spiny tail and mean, fang-laden mouth. Two great feelers extended from its maw and waved about in the air in anticipation, as though weighing up these two new intruders.

The feelers waved around in the air for a moment and then snapped back along the beasts body. It then moved with unnatural speed, barrelling straight for the dwarf in a charge!

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Scene
Completed

End

[…continued in Book #01, Chapter #03, Scene #04b…]