It was early in the evening on Sunday, the 9th day of Fireseek, in the Common Year of 581, when a tremendous explosion, set off by one of Zeke’s fireballs, caused much of the ceiling of a large cavern to collapse on top of the Company of the Green Dragon soon after they began exploring the eighth level of the ruins of the Tower of War. Shortly afterwards, the band had killed another troll and eight more derro in a nearby living area that appeared to be cut off from the rest of the level. With the lifts both above them and below them heavily damaged, there appeared to be no means of entering the area they were in, save for a difficult to reach secret door that led to a secret stash of golden arms and armor. So the band saw this as a good opportunity for them to rest.First, however, they wanted to contact the duergar and their henchmen above to let them know they were still alive and to inform them of their plans. With this in mind, Zeke used his winged boots to fly up through the lift shaft where he could speak to the duergar on the seventh level. In addition to telling the duergar about their situation, Zeke also suggested that the duergar be on the lookout for anyone coming up from the eighth level by way of the secret stairwell. The band assumed that others on the eighth level had heard the explosion and would likely want to come and investigate via the seventh level. Upon Zeke’s return, the band set up their watches and began taking their turns resting, eating and tending to their daily routines. Fortunately, the living area had plenty of food and drink that even a band of humans could stomach without complaint, though the sleeping arrangements were another matter entirely. Sometime after midnight, about halfway through their rest, and while Zeke and Corvyn were on watch, Corvyn heard the sound of a whispering voice. At first, the strange voice seemed to be speaking to others in the group who were asleep. But then the voice began whispering to Corvyn, and Corvyn then realized that it was the leader of the duergar, Gaerdar, trying to communicate to the band with magic. Gaerdar told Corvyn that a group, led by a half-orc priest, had come up through the secret stairwell, just as the band had expected. But they were attacked by the derro and forced to retreat back down. Corvyn realized that among other things, this meant that the enemy forces were now aware, that at the very least, the derro had taken over much, if not all of the seventh level. But how much more the priests of Nerull could know at this point, was probably a tad beyond Corvyn’s limited capacity to reason. Hopefully, the band could still have some element of surprise. Corvyn was able to send a response back to Gaerdar, acknowledging the receipt of his message. Then, later on, when the others each awoke, Corvyn told them what Gaerdar had said. The rest of the night passed by uneventfully. So, it was about 7 o’clock the following morning, Moonday the 10th day of Fireseek, when the band was ready to resume their explorations. The obvious place to start was the secret door found previously on the far side of the cavern. They placed the plank over the tar pit and made their way to the secret room, where they began inspecting another secret door to the northeast. This one however, felt very warm to the touch when Brom went to inspect it and search for any traps. He surmised that it was extremely hot on the other side of the door, so hot in fact, that it might cause injury to anyone not protected from the heat. Tadwin decided then that now might be a good time for him to send out an invisible eye to scout out as much of the level as he could. So, while one of his companions quickly opened and closed the door, Tadwin sent his conjured sensor through the doorway and into a wide corridor that ran from east to west. The natural corridor was both dimly lit and heated by a river of molten lava, which flowed to the east. Nowhere was there a pathway, much less any obvious doors to be found. But Tadwin did spy some interesting structures to the west. So it was to the west that he then sent his invisible eye. Soon, he came across what appeared to be either a trap or some kind of defensive mechanism designed to utilize the river of lava in some way. Just beyond that were a pair of draw bridges to either side of the cave, clearly intended to span the river of lava if they were lowered, which they currently were not. And still further on, there was a sort of natural bridge that barely cleared the lava. To the north of that bridge lay a passageway, and to the south, a door, partially protected from the heat by a wall. Tadwin was able to send his invisible eye a bit further into the passageway, and down both directions of the wide corridor, but he was either blocked by closed doors or he did not find much else of real interest. The two possible exceptions to this were an octagonal shaped room with a statue of Nerull holding a staff, and a nearby stairwell that appeared to lead to the ninth level, both of which were found just south of the draw bridge. But the band decided to investigate the door behind the wall first, using what magic and abilities they had to try and avoid any injuries from the extreme heat. Brom used one of his many concoctions to protect himself from the heat, while he tested out his recently acquired wings for the first time in a critical situation. Still flying a bit awkwardly, he managed to make it to the door fairly quickly, ahead of the others, so he could look for traps. Upon finding no traps, and willing to take a risk to escape the heat, he opened the door and entered. Moments later, the rest of the band, though without Kaelegg, appeared through one of Tadwin’s dimensional doors just outside the door, which Brom then opened to let them in. Kaelegg had to be left behind in the secret room because Tadwin was not able to transport everyone. Beyond the door the band found a series of rooms that appeared to be the living quarters of more half-orc priests, complete with the usual Nerull worshiping accoutrements and several magically trapped tomes on Nerull. But none of the rooms held any occupants. Passing through a few doors beyond this area, the band found a room containing two statues of ogres, one of which wore a set of magical gauntlets. After some investigation, the band learned that the gauntlets could be used to help push a hidden lever, thereby opening a secret door, which appeared to lead into the central Tower of Zagig. They found that, barring any kind of powerful magic currently beyond them, the door could only be opened by pushing the lever. And this could only be accomplished with tremendous strength, which, as Corvyn soon discovered, was greatly enhanced for anyone wearing the gauntlets. Unfortunately, the gauntlets were linked to chains made of a strange, bluish and magically reinforced metal that no one could severe without a great deal of effort. And so, for the time being, the band was forced to leave the magical gauntlets behind, vowing to return for them when they had more time and perhaps the means to break the chains. One other item of interest that they discovered while trying to learn the destination of the passageway beyond the secret door, were the sets of tracks made by a few individuals of varying sizes, which appeared to lead away from the Tower of Zagig, in an otherwise rarely used corridor. Due to the nature of the secret door, the band could only guess that whoever made these tracks, must have used powerful magic to breach the thick stone wall and enter the War Tower. Near the room with the magical gauntlets, the band found another door that looked very similar to the trapped doors they encountered the first time they entered the eighth level. This, they concluded, was probably where these doors connected and would lead to the secret spiral stairway and the seventh level. According to Gaerdar’s message, a band led by a half-orc priest passed through this way several hours before. But at this time, all appeared to be vacant. So they headed for the natural stone bridge that spanned the river of lava, with Brom far out in front to scout ahead. As before, everyone used what magic they had to protect them from the heat. Corvyn had to cover himself with a wet towel, which helped a bit but did not fully protect him. It was Brom however, who came the closest to a disaster when he accidentally set off three glyphs of warding while crossing over the bridge. One of the glyphs, which Brom fell victim to, acted as a hold person spell and were it not for his forward momentum leading him straight ahead, he could have tumbled into the river of lava and very nearly did. The hold spell wore off just as Brom’s companions were approaching, so naturally Brom tried to act nonchalant about the mishap, behaving as if nothing troubling had occurred. Once across the bridge and away from the heat, the band found a sauna that made creative use of the nearby heat-source, and beyond that, a cloak room with a secret door to the north. Listening at the secret door, Brom could hear what sounded like one of the half-orcs making a rousing speech to a large room full of ogres and trolls. Tadwin cast a clairvoyance spell and was able to confirm the assertion that the vast majority of this level’s inhabitants were now all gathered in a large temple dedicated to Nerull. He also learned that one of the half-orc priests, of which there were three standing at an altar on the near side of the chamber, had chained a woman to the altar and was about to sacrifice her. Realizing that he had to tell his companions, despite what Nerull might wish to say about it, Tadwin accurately described the scene. Aware that time was of great importance, the band made a few quick battle plans, hastily prepared themselves and opened the door. Taking a dozen elite ogres and half a dozen trolls by surprise, the arcane spellcasters launched a couple of fireballs into the room, while the others moved in to attack with weapons. Between Corvyn’s skill with a giant-bane greatsword, and Brom’s devastating sneak attacks, the rest of the battle was completely one-sided. Within a matter of seconds, the band had wiped out nearly all the inhabitants of the eighth level with not so much as a scratch. One of the half-orc priests tried to make a run for it near the end, only to be taken down by a magic missile spell. When it was over, some members of the band began inspecting the fallen bodies, while Rohnam freed the chained woman with a set of keys found on one of the clerics. The woman thanked the band for the well-timed rescue, saying that her name was Elegeena and that she had a friend being held in a nearby cell. She told the band that she and her dwarven friend were all that remained of an all-female band of adventurers, who, upon the insistence of the band’s wizard, had started out in the Tower of Zagig. She said that they got into serious trouble right from the start and spent most of their time trying to avoid or run away from battles. According to Elegeena, they eventually, somehow, made it to what they believed was the lowest level of the central tower where she claimed to have seen the tomb of Zagig himself. When asked what she had seen in the central tower, she spoke of powerful undead wizards and numerous deadly traps, but did not go into much detail. Moving on from the temple hall, the band headed in the direction where Elegeena said they could find her friend. By now aware that Zeke was the obvious leader of the band, she instead seemed to focus most of her attention towards Rohnam who, though he was not quite as charismatic as Zeke, could not help but be the lady’s man he was well known for. He played the part of a concerned hero quite well, although if Elegeena was to be believed, she was far more skilled at dungeon delving than the average damsel in distress. Along the way, the band encountered a large troll and ogre who tried to ambush them but quickly met the same fate as all the others. Eventually, the band found a few holding cells at the rear of a large, lavishly decorated bedchamber. There, they met and released Elegeena’s friend, Ulaka. Nearby, in a locked chest, they found some equipment that the two women claimed as theirs. After helping the females with their armor, the band offered to escort the women back up to the seventh level and relative safety. They then made their way back across the river of lava and over to the trapped door found earlier. Now with a set of keys, the band believed they would be able to bypass the trap fairly easily. So, using these keys, while the rest of the band stayed behind, Brom led the two women through a series of six iron doors, all of which triggered a steady stream of poisonous gas and automatically closed behind them. Holding their breath along the way, they all three made it to the stairs with no problem. Brom then took them upstairs where he eventually introduced them to the duergar, telling the duergar to take the woman back up to where the band’s henchmen were. With this matter now dealt with, Brom returned to his companions and they resumed their explorations. From this point on, there was little left to be done on the eighth level but take out the few remaining ogres and trolls who had been stationed on guard duty. Occasionally, the band ran into small groups of derro, who had no desire to fight with the band, including four who were lying sick in a sort-of infirmary. A few of the derro offered up answers and advice if they were feeling threatened, though the sick derro seemed to be disappointed when the band found a secret door leading to a stash of tools and other secret passageways. The band also found a few elaborately designed and built traps and defensive measures, meant to kill intruders or even to seal off the eighth level by purposely causing the lift room to explode. All of these measures proved to be quite pointless against the band, largely due to the changes caused by the destruction of the middle levels in the War Tower. After further exploration, the band learned how to operate the draw bridges spanning the river of lava, as well as a massive stone block that could be slid into place to seal off a wide passageway, leading to the draw bridges and the stairs to the level below. This they decided to open up, though they left one of the draw bridges up. They also found a long cylinder made of stone and hidden away in a secret chamber. This was apparently something that the derro had come up with on their own, as a means of secretly crossing the river of lava, in order to reach the secret room of golden arms and armor, which the band had to use to enter the remaining sections of the level. By noon, the band had explored almost every chamber on the eighth level, with one obvious exception. This was an ancient chamber that had been sealed behind a secret door with a glyph of warding. Inside this large cave was an earthen mound covered with yellow blossoms and at the northern end stood a statue of a giant bat. Not feeling particularly sure about this chamber, the opted to avoid it initially. Later on, when asked about it, one of the derro cooks told the band that the half-orc priests were actually a bit afraid of entering the chamber. They believed it was the resting place of a powerful vampire named Crimloc, who Zagig had imprisoned there decades ago with a curse of some kind. For the time being anyway, the band decided that they too would avoid the place.