Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess

Part Four - Chapter Eleven: Ussisemeel's Ambush

It was in the evening of Earthday, the 13th day of Planting, in the Common Year of 581, when the Company of the Green Dragon killed the wizard Sindar Sirion and the beholder, Morlanx, leader of the neutral faction in the Power Tower of the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. It was about midnight when the band defeated the last of the verbeegs and urds on the 6th level of the dungeon. But one of the verbeegs escaped through a back door in the last battle. So the band went in search of it.

This meant traversing through the highly acidic layer of vomit that had been spilled onto the floor of the lab room. Fortunately, the band had already used magic to protect themselves from acid, so the only problem was dealing with the horrible smell. But the band managed. Once past the doorway, through which the verbeeg had fled, the band walked down a short passageway to an oddly shaped room with eight triangular alcoves, each occupied by a shelf, and a square alcove directly across from the entrance, in front of which rested a large barrel. Brom entered the room first, looking for traps and found that a vial of what appeared to be acid rested on each shelf and that each shelf appeared to be trapped. Brom, however, failed to locate the trap’s trigger until it was too late, when he bumped into an extremely fine, almost invisible wire at the center of the room. This triggered the trap which then caused each of the shelves to launch the vials of acid at him. But, once again, Brom was magically protected from acid, so he remained unharmed.

With the danger of the trap now passed, the band soon afterwards discovered a trap door through which the verbeeg had apparently escaped. Under the trap door, the band found a ladder and a passageway leading off to the southeast. The band followed the passageway a good distance and eventually realized the passageway would take them to the dungeons of the War Tower. This was clearly how some of the verbeegs and urds had escaped when the band first encountered them on the sixth dungeon level of the War Tower. Since it was obvious that the escaped verbeeg had fled this way, the band continued on. But when they arrived at the War Tower, they soon learned that their henchmen had already killed the verbeeg.

Realizing they now had an alternate means of access, the band returned to the Power Tower then and continued exploring the neutral section. The only room left unexplored at this point, was where the last couple of verbeegs and urds had come from in the last battle. This was found at the bottom of a short but wide set of stairs and it appeared to be a sort of judgement chamber where prisoners were chained to the floor while a dozen verbeegs and a dozen urds sat around them in chairs that were set upon raised stages. The room, however, was currently void of any occupants, so the band headed for the stairs leading to the next level.

On the way to the stairs, the band again passed through the wide hallway with the ten pillars. But this time, Brom noticed an unusual echo in the room as if there were nearby hollow spaces. A thorough search done by tapping on all the surfaces revealed that the pillars were hollow. Brom then used his magical gloves to reshape the stone of the pillars and accidentally released the poisonous sleep gas that was inside the pillar. It filled up a large portion of the hallway and caused Diamond to fall unconscious. When the others checked Diamond’s health they found that he was barely breathing and gradually getting worse. They were then forced to violently strike him to make him regain consciousness. Naturally, the band decided not to mess around with the other pillars. But the band rested for an hour then while Brom brewed a potion, and once they were ready to proceed, they headed down the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, Brom scouted ahead as usual and he soon came to a room with a wide pit to one side. At the edge of the pit, an oddly placed dais had been built, and elsewhere, two hallways led off into the darkness. The distinctive flapping and yapping sounds of urds could be heard coming from both hallways. Brom scouted out both hallways.

The first hallway quickly led to a large kitchen with miniature appliances and furniture, where nine female urds were apparently preparing meals. Near the entrance was an unusual, 10’ wide pillar with handles on its sides. But the most eye-catching sight was a pool of water that sloped up at an odd angle into a far corner of the room as if the gravity there was off kilter.

The second hallway led to a couple of stairways that eventually opened up into a huge nursery 25’ feet tall and supported by six pillars where more than two dozen female urds watched over dozens more young urds and even more eggs.

When Brom reported his findings to his companions, they decided not to even approach the female urds and their young, believing them to be of no threat, much like the female verbeegs. Instead, they opted to leave them completely alone and move on to more important matters. Brom also found a storage room in between the two urd-filled chambers, but it too did not appear to be of any consequence.

Finally, Brom decided to investigate the nearby dais and pit. But when he tried to step onto the dais, it turned out to be an illusion which covered up a very slippery half-cone-shaped slide that threatened to drop Brom into the pit and the trash-filled pool of water 20’ below. Brom managed to stop his downward progress by flapping his wings and only got his feet wet before flying back up to the ledge. From there, he looked closer into the water and saw that there appeared to be a tunnel about 10’ under the surface.

Curious about what might be found inside the tunnel, Diamond cast an augury spell to see if it would be beneficial to investigate it. His answer indicated it would probably be beneficial. So Brom drank a potion to help him move under water and jumped in, knowing his magical necklace would allow him to breath freely. Moments later, Brom found himself in a nearby cave with a pocket of breathable air. Another tunnel led further down, but before he could investigate it, he was suddenly confronted by three, yellow, spine-covered urchins. Initially, Brom retreated, but he then decided to use his ring of invisibility and attacked them with surprise, killing all three. With the urchins dead, Brom turned back and swam through the second tunnel where he soon arrived in another cave with a pocket of breathable air.

At the water’s edge of this cave, however, he found two bodies lying one on top of the other. The upper most body was that of a male warrior with a greatsword strapped to his back and several urchin spines sticking out of his back. He was dead. But the body underneath was that of a beautiful woman dressed in the robes of a wizard, and she was still breathing, though just barely. She was very cold to the touch and looked to have been in a near coma for days. Fortunately though, a healing potion revived her and, once she had recovered somewhat from the shock of her current situation, she introduced herself as Eleena. The body of the warrior was that of her brother and fellow adventurer, Dorthonodand, and Eleena was quite distraught to learn that he had died.

Brom offered to guide Eleena back out of the caves and helped her load her brother’s body into an extra-dimensional device she had, known as a portable hole, an item, by the way, that the band wanted very much to have one of their own. Once Brom was reunited with his companions, he introduced them to Eleena, who then explained to them again how she and her brother had recently snuck into the dungeons searching for magical knowledge and treasure using an invisibility spell and where they ran into trouble in the neutral section and eventually found themselves at the bottom of an urchin lair.

As was often the case, Eleena was visibly quite drawn to the charismatic founder of the band, Zeke. But despite her obvious beauty and her apparent skill in the arcane arts, Zeke did not initially display any interest in the comely wizard, perhaps bored with the attention he often received from admirers of both genders and seemingly content to remain a wide-eyed bachelor, much like his companions.

While Eleena told her tale to the rest of the band, Brom took the time to extract from the bodies of the urchins the stones found within, which are often quite valuable to alchemists. Some members of the band also took note of the greatsword which had been the property of Eleena’s brother and which she referred to by name, calling it “Guandaw”. The band intentionally avoided mentioning the fact that they had the means to resurrect her brother, each of them silently understanding that this was a matter they had best discuss among themselves before making any offer to Eleena.

They did, however, offer to escort Eleena back to the safety of the dungeons in the War Tower and immediately did so, taking the secret route they had just discovered on the level above them. Upon reaching the band’s quarters there and introducing Eleena to their henchmen, they offered her food and drink and a place to rest while the band continued exploring the dungeons of the Power Tower.

It was about a quarter to four in the morning on Freeday, the 14th day of Planting, when the band returned to the dungeons of the Power Tower, some ten hours since they last rested for any extended period and nine hours since consuming their last hero’s feast. Having wiped out all but the most minor of threats in both the lawful and neutral factions, including the wizards who aided them, the band now set their sights on the chaotic faction.

As they had done with the other two factions, they made their way back to the third dungeon level where they had first encountered the three factions and where they intended to resume their assault on the final faction. Their plan was to cast a few defensive and utility type spells once they reached the third dungeon level and before they expected to run into any opposition. But things did not go according to plan, for as they were making their way out of the upper most rooms of the neutral faction and entering the large battle-scarred cavern at the center of the level, they encountered something unexpected.

Since the band was now relying on darkvision spells and not using any light sources of their own, it was easy for them to spot a large group of bugbears, some of which wielded faintly glowing weapons, on the far side of the cavern. What at first appeared to be more than a dozen bugbears was then recognized to be more like half a dozen each with a mirror image of itself standing nearby. One of the bugbears, however, was hovering in midair and had more than half a dozen images of itself. In addition to the bugbears, there was a huge spider-like creature known as a bebilith among them as well.

Assuming the bugbears to be what they appeared to be, the band entered the cavern and began moving into position to attack. Tadwin, however, noticed an invisible wall of force, just five feet high separating the bugbears from the rest of the cavern. Suddenly, the hovering bugbear cast a spell creating a freezing ball of cold that exploded when it struck the band, much like a fireball would. And since the band was not protected from cold, most of them were hurt quite badly. Then the bebilith charged in and attacked, and before they knew what was happening the band was unexpectedly taking quite a heavy toll and they were forced to retreat.

Having been hit much harder than they expected, the band moved out of sight from the attacking forces and took the time to heal up a bit and cast a few defensive spells. Fortunately, the bebilith did not follow after the band, as it too retreated and, like the bugbears, waited patiently for the band to return to the battle field. When the band felt they were ready, they came at the bugbears and this time they had a plan and were better prepared. Unfortunately, it made little if any difference, for the band soon discovered that their enemies were far more powerful and prepared than they thought possible.

This time, Diamond used his magical boots to dimension door Corvyn and Brom into midair next to the floating bugbear. Corvyn had drunk a potion of flying in preparation for this. But when the three of them appeared in the cavern, the hovering bugbear was not where they expected him to be. To make matters worse, Corvyn’s potion of flying malfunctioned and he fell to the ground. Brom spotted the hovering bugbear, but when he moved to attack it, a giant magical hand moved to intercept him despite his invisibility. Tadwin and Zeke also teleported into the room, but they focused on attacking the other bugbears. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that the bugbears were magically protected from most of their spells. Tadwin did manage to kill one of the bugbears with a prismatic spray. But by now, the band realized that the bugbears were attacking not with weapons but with spells such as confusion and hold person.

This made them begin to suspect that these were no ordinary bugbears and in fact, might not have been bugbears at all. Diamond, in particular, began to notice some very familiar abilities, such as his copycat ability and some of their spells. He also realized they might have the same master’s illusion ability as him, which could mean that these were clerics of Boccob who were only disguised as bugbears in an effort to make the band underestimate them. If this was the case, it appeared they were successful.

As the battle progressed, Brom found himself under attack from the giant magical hand which was able to grapple him and hold him for a bit. Corvyn, meanwhile, could only attack the hovering bugbear from a distance. And while this was going on, the bebilith came at them and the hovering bugbear was attacking with some very powerful arcane spells. One such spell was a devastating cone of cold which threatened to cling to them and entangle them had the band not been magically protected from such attacks. Soon after Diamond was struck by the cone of cold, and before he got a chance to heal himself, he became the target of a harm spell from another one of the bugbears and it killed him.

By this point, the band had done little harm to their foes and had yet to even get close to the hovering bugbear, much less harm him in any way. So they decided to retreat once again. All but Brom gathered near the body of Diamond and teleported back to their quarters in the dungeons of the War Tower.

Brom, who by now had managed to escape the giant magical hand and had drank a potion of greater invisibility, decided to stay behind to see if he could do any more harm to the opposing forces. But when all of the bugbears then cast invisibility purge spells, he realized that he too need to retreat. Brom had to fly back through the secret tunnel, but apparently he was not pursued. When the band all met up again in their quarters, they used the rod of resurrection to bring Diamond back to life. Then they healed up the rest of their injuries.

At this point, the band agreed that the bugbears were actually the wizard Ussisemeel, who aided the chaotic faction, and the clerics of Boccob who lived in the pyramids just outside the ruins of the Power Tower. Convinced that the wizard and the clerics were now low on spells and still within the cavern where the battle had just taken place, not expecting the band to return, they decided to do just that. So, once again, Tadwin teleported the entire band back into the room in the neutral section that had spy holes looking out into the cavern. But when the band arrived and looked through the spy holes, the cavern was empty.

The band returned to the battle field cavern to take a closer look but found no one. So Tadwin cast a vision spell and saw a vision of the bugbears taking on the appearance of their true selves, that of Ussisemeel and the clerics of Boccob. Ussisemeel spoke briefly to the clerics and teleported away. Then the clerics gathered up the body of their fallen companion and held hands while their leader, Bern Hengdal cast a spell and teleported them away. Following the conclusion of the vision spell, Tadwin became fatigued and needed a lesser restoration spell to regain his strength.

Frustrated that Ussisemeel and the clerics were now gone, the band was determined to try and pursue them. Unfortunately, they had no idea where Ussisemeel might have gone. But they felt pretty confident that the clerics had returned to their pyramids. So the band teleported to the passageway on the 2nd dungeon level that they knew led to the pyramids and followed it to the stairs leading up. Eventually, they came to a couple of secret doors which led them to a triangular-shaped room with a large magic circle in it. Finding none of the clerics there, they looked behind another secret door which appeared to up on to a small teleportation chamber. Stepping into the chamber one at a time, they each teleported away.

Brom was the first to arrive in another teleportation chamber and when he opened the door into a sort of hallway with several other doors, his invisibility no longer functioned, which possibly meant that he was already within range of the clerics’ invisibility purge spells. As his companions arrived behind him one at a time, Brom went to inspect the first door to his left. Upon opening this door, they found a nicely appointed bedroom and standing in the middle of it was the high priest himself, Bern Hengdal.

The cleric tried to cast a spell, but he was quickly overwhelmed by the band which struck him down and killed him. Almost immediately after the death of their leader, the three remaining clerics of Boccob, emerged from a nearby door and surrendered, claiming they had no ill intentions towards the band and that they were only following the orders of their leader whom they now realized had been lying to them for many years.

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arkhemedes

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