Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess

Part Four - Chapter Thirteen: The Downfall of Ussisemeel

It was in the evening of Freeday, the 14th day of Planting, in the Common Year of 581, when the Company of the Green Dragon began their assault on the chaotic faction of the Power Tower in the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. After dealing with an ambush where more than a dozen bugbears were killed, the band moved on to investigate the caverns that lay ahead.
The first cavern, where most of the bugbears had just come from, was an active smithy where the bugbears had been repairing a number of daggers and swords. All the necessary tools were found there, though none of them were of high quality or value. The next cave, which lay at the end of a short tunnel, was blocked by an iron golem which continued to pound down a troll that had apparently gotten too close. Every time the troll got up, the iron golem would knock it back down in a never ending cycle of futility.

Tadwin had earlier seen into the cavern that lay beyond with his arcane eye and knew there were some items of possible interest which rested on a table there. Since the golem was so preoccupied with the troll, Brom was able to easily sneak past it while invisible. On the table were eight potions and a piece of paper with a note written in common. Four of the potions were labeled “Alter Self” and four were labeled “Cure Moderate Wounds”. The note read, “Effects occur when one of each is drank.” Brom grabbed the potions and the note and returned to his companions, at which point the band spent a fair amount of time debating on what to do with the potions.

An augury spell seemed to indicate that following the note’s instructions could be both beneficial and baneful. A few theories were put forth on what might happen, the most popular of which was that it would permanently transform the drinker of the potions into a troll. But they could not be certain of any of these theories, so several members of the band tried to talk Corvyn into drinking the potions. He considered it for a bit, but ultimately decided against it. As a result, the band never did find out what would happen if both of the potions were drank.

The band did however, decide to attack and destroy the iron golem, fearing that the wizards would use it against them if they did not. After destroying the golem, they then had to kill the troll as well, which immediately got up and attacked them. The only other item of note in the cavern was a collapsed and sealed off tunnel, which the band decided not to investigate.

Turning back towards the passages which led them to these caves, the band then made their way into a series of previously unexplored caverns. These caverns were now empty of any opposing forces, as these forces had already been fought and killed. The one possible exception to this was a troll that had been chained to a post in the center of one of the caverns, and, as Tadwin had observed with his arcane eye, was being tortured and used as a training device for several bugbears and a troll.

Tadwin, who was the only member of the band who could speak giant and therefore communicate with the troll, interrogated the troll and learned that it was being punished for attempted treason. In exchange for further information and assistance against his punishers, Tadwin offered to set the troll free. The troll agreed to the terms and Brom picked the locks on the chains. When asked for his name, the troll answered by saying a name that the band had difficulty pronouncing, so they just called him Fred.

The only other feature of the caves on this level worth noting was a wall of stacked stones in one cave that was very similar to a wall found previously in a cave on the level above. Behind that wall of stones, the band had found a coating of lead on the cave wall which the band had assumed was intended to prevent the meenlocks of the neutral faction from using their dimension door ability. Believing they would find the same thing behind this wall of stones, the band ignored it.

Having apparently searched all the caves of this level, the band descended to the next level, making sure to have the troll they called Fred near the front so they could closely observe him. When the band reached the next level, they moved in cautiously, since Tadwin had earlier seen with his arcane eye what appeared to be the bugbear chief and his bodyguard seated at a table in a side cave next to the large entrance cave. But when the band got within sight of the table, no bugbears were seen. In fact, no bugbears where found anywhere, which made the band suspect a possible ambush.

As it turned out, the band’s suspicions were correct, for just as they were about to pass into the next chamber, eight bugbears tried to take the band by surprise from the front, while the bugbear chief and his two bodyguards, all three of which had been invisible, came up behind them from an ascending tunnel. Tadwin, however, proved to be quicker and he cast a black tentacles spell in front of the chief and his bodyguards, thus ruining, or at least delaying, their attack.

Nevertheless, a massive battle then took place. As the band, led by Corvyn and Brom, pushed their way into the cave in front of them, taking down bugbears as they went, the chief and his bodyguard fought their way through the black tentacles and attacked from the rear. When the chief and his bodyguards became visible, they let out some very intimidating roars which rattled the nerves of a few members of the band at the rear of the group. Eight more bugbears then followed in behind them, making the threat even more intimidating. The black tentacles, however, had limited the effectiveness of the ambush and when Tadwin then cast a wall of force while Zeke created a web spell over the black tentacles, this completely eliminated any threat from the rear…at least for a short while.

The band then moved into the next cave and continued taking down the bugbears there. But soon the band saw that six trolls and the two-headed troll that Tadwin had seen earlier, were now about to join from another cavern just beyond. All of these trolls and bugbears were very skilled barbarians and rangers, just like the ones they had faced on the level above, and the two-headed troll, with its two longswords, looked to be very formidable indeed. So Tadwin put up another wall of force to keep them out as well.

Unfortunately, the wall of force that had been put up behind them somehow disappeared and the bugbears there came charging in on the band. Along with them was the obvious cause of the wall’s disappearance. It was, of course, the wizard Ussisemeel, who was now hovering in the air and hidden amongst several blurry images, much like a cloud of swirling shadows. Unprepared for this unexpected attack from the rear, Corvyn found himself surrounded by bugbears which then pounced on him and took him down. Suddenly aware of how dire the situation had become, it was Diamond who then cast a spell from a scroll and put up a wall of stone to keep the bugbears at bay.

No doubt believing the band to be badly hurt, Ussisemeel, then dimension doored himself and two of the trolls into the now completely enclosed cave and prepared to attack. The trolls were able to attack immediately and they did indeed cause some serious injuries. But when Ussisemeel went to cast a spell, Tadwin was ready for him and was able to cast a counter spell. In fact, this continued on for quite some time. Every time Ussisemeel went to cast a spell, Tadwin was able to counter it. Unwilling to cast any spell that would also harm the trolls and bugbears, Ussisemeel’s spell casting options were limited and for each spell he attempted, Tadwin was somehow able to thwart it. Meanwhile, the trolls and bugbears were gradually defeated and eventually their numbers began to dwindle.

But with Corvyn now lying dead on the ground, Diamond was forced to spend a lot of his time and energy on healing up the band. To make matters worse, as the battle continued on, the band could hear the bugbears on the far side of the wall of stone hammering away at the wall. Sooner or later, the wall would give way and the band would be forced to face them again. It was at about this time when the band began contemplating on making another retreat. But they decided to hold off just a bit longer. Since the rod of resurrection had recently been used on Diamond, it could not be used to resurrect Corvyn. But Zeke had a scroll with a limited wish spell on it, so he used that to raise Corvyn from the dead. With Corvyn back in the battle, albeit below his normal health, the band was able to turn the tide of the battle.

When the bugbears did finally break through the wall of stone, the band was able to handle them and gradually took them out as they entered the cave, including the chief and his bodyguards. Even the two-headed troll, proved to be less of a problem than they might have anticipated as they were able to get a jump on him and took full advantage of a mistake it made. Ussisemeel, meanwhile, was never able to get a spell off, even when he began looking for a chance to retreat. Brom had made use of some dust of disappearance which made it impossible for Ussisemeel to locate him. As a result, Ussisemeel was also killed, along with a creature of some kind that originally had taken the shape of a dagger and then assumed the shape of a glowing sphere. A second pet of his, a cloaker, tried to flee with the wizard’s body when a magic ring of his created an illusion and rendered the body invisible. But Tadwin spotted it and the cloaker was likewise killed.

When the battle came to an end, the band gathered up anything of value, and took Ussisemeel’s body back to the War Tower to throw into the river of lava.

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arkhemedes

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