Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess
Part One - Chapter Eighteen: The Devastation of Vaprak
It was on Earthday, the 6th day of Patchwall, in the Common Year of 580, when the Company of the Green Dragon made their fifth trip to the ruins of Castle Greyhawk; and it was shortly after noon when the band had come to an agreement with Gaerdar of the duergar to leave their complex alone, and proceed on to the fourth underground level of the dungeon. With the band’s henchmen staying behind on the third level in order to operate the lift, the rest of the band was lowered about fifty feet down until they came to a stop on a landing pad in a chamber that was in ruins. At a nearby elevator shaft that obviously went to the level below, the two winches remained, but water now fell down the shaft. The water was coming through cracks in the walls to the northeast and northwest. A small stream also ran across the room to a set of double doors to the southeast. Upon examining the shaft going down with a light source, it was noted that the winch lines were dangling in the air, the elevator pad no longer attached, and that the chamber some fifty feet below was in even worse shape than the one they were in. Clearly the band would not be using the elevator to access the level below. Looking about, the band decided first to try a set of double doors on the northwest side of the room. These doors opened up onto a wide corridor and a series of stairs going down. Unfortunately, water likewise seeped in through a crack on the northeast side and completely filled the passageway at the bottom of the stairs. But Brom took the time to make a potion that would help him move about underwater. He then removed his gear, and swam into the passageway. There he found a door that was stuck and a turn in the passageway with stairs that rose up out of the water. Brom followed the stairs going up and saw that they continued on up to a corridor that was higher in elevation than the one in which he left his companions. At this point, he turned around and returned to his companions to tell them what he had found. From here however, the band decided to try the double doors leading to the southeast. Beyond these doors they found a corridor with considerable damage done to it. It was partially caved in and debris was strewn all about. Nevertheless, the band was able to move past the debris and follow the stream that ran through the passageway. The stream soon turned however, and flowed under the debris of a collapsed side passage. Brom was scouting ahead as usual and when he reached this point, he heard a distant woman’s voice calling from the southeast that said, “Oh please help me. I’m trapped.” Brom retreated, telling his companions what he had heard, though some members of the band did not appear very eager to respond to the call for help, perhaps believing it to be a trap. But Kelgor spoke up, saying that they had to at least investigate it, whether or not it was a trap. Esremire and Corvym then agreed and went to help him clear away the debris. After a bit, the band had cleared away enough of the rubble to reach the passageway on the far side, where the stream ran to the northeast under another set of double doors. But the call for help, which by the way was never repeated, had come from the southeast. So they continued to dig, while Brom examined the double doors. Soon, those who were digging came upon a narrow collapsed passageway and after further digging, eventually cleared away enough to enter the passageway. The passageway made a couple of turns and came to a small circular room where stood a beautiful solid gold statue of a naked woman holding out a flower of silver as if offering it to those who would enter. Esremire was fascinated by the statue and both he and Tadwin realized it was worth a small fortune. So, still wary of a trap, Esremire cautiously reached out to touch the statue when suddenly it came to life and attacked. The band battled the statue, which did considerable damage, and as they did so, the statue gradually began to take on the appearance of the rust-red skeletal form of Nerull, as if its true form was being revealed beneath the illusion of the golden woman. However, when the band finally defeated the statue, oddly enough, it reverted back to the shape of the golden woman! Realizing how much the statue was actually worth, the band debated for a while on how they might remove it from the ruins. But they agreed to leave it behind for the time being and come back for it later. Following this, the band then headed through the double doors that lay beyond the debris and came to a large temple, the length of which was sundered with a sheer crevice that ended in the middle of the altar at the far end of the room. A balcony to the southeast had crumbled and collapsed, and its pillars had toppled. Water now gushed into the crevice and a rumbling could be heard far below. As the band stepped into the chamber, a large rust-red skeletal statue with green hair could be seen wedged between the cave walls as if trying to keep from falling to its destruction. As the band was gazing in wonder at all of this, they were suddenly attacked from above by four blue creatures with conical bodies covered in angry red eyes and numerous tentacles. These creatures, called tentamorts, had stringers on the end of one tentacle and another tentacle long enough to strike and grab its opponents. Some members of the band fell victim to the stingers which caused them to become helplessly nauseous, while some were grappled by the second tentacle. To make matters worse, during the battle, another creature that resembled a giant brain with a bird’s beak and long tentacles, called a grell, floated up out of the crevice and also attacked. Its first victim was Esremire, who became paralyzed by the tentacles and was on the verge of plummeting into the crevice, when Corvyn, who fared much better than most of his companions, came to his rescue. Corvyn killed the grell and then turned and attacked the tentamorts. He and Brom, who likewise fared better than the others, did most of the damage to the tentamorts. Eventually though, all the monsters were killed. After healing up a bit, the band explored the temple, but found nothing of real value. They did however, notice an area in the crevice where four large marks were gouged into the sides, looking exactly as if some mighty being with huge talons or tentacles had literally ripped the floor apart. The statue of Nerull also had several cuts and scrapes on it, as if it had been attacked. It and the ruined altar both radiated a faint magic, but it appeared as if whatever the functioning of the magic once was, it had been destroyed. The band also noticed that the crevice apparently extended all the way to the level below. From here, the band decided to investigate a set of double doors to the southeast. These doors opened up into a wide corridor with several single doors running alongside it. Here, the area seemed especially cold and forbidding. No moss, lichen or even insects could be seen and all seemed barren and deadly. The first door they opened here led to a bedchamber decorated with a tapestry depicting Nerull, and on the pillow of the bed was a black opal. Esremire took the black opal and put it in his pocket, but soon afterwards he began to feel badly. So he put the opal back and began to feel better. Realizing the opal was cursed, the band agreed to leave it behind. The next two rooms they entered were identical and they too had black opals on the bed’s pillows. The band left these opals behind as well. The last of these rooms however, also had an occupant. It was a wraith, most likely the undead spirit of a half-orc cleric that served Nerull until the bitter end. It immediately attacked and struck Corvyn, seemingly draining the health from him in the process. Having never faced a wraith before, Corvyn believed at first that he had been drained of life energy by the undead creature and wanted no more part of it. So he quickly made a fighting withdrawal from the room. His companions, having witnessed the startled reaction of the band’s fighter to the undead creature, now became spooked themselves and an immediate retreat was called for by several members of the band. Zeke, however, chose to blast the creature with a burning hands spell, and as a result, did not move back as far as his companions. Tadwin then moved back behind Zeke and launched a fireball into the hallway, which filled all the side rooms and ignited everything within. Fortunately, Tadwin was able to direct the blast so that it did no harm to Zeke and himself, though it did considerable damage to the wraith. Still, it did not destroy the wraith, which then moved up and struck Zeke with its health-draining touch. Once more, the two spellcasters retreated and again, Tadwin launched a fireball, this time managing to destroy the undead creature. With the wraith now destroyed, the band soon realized that the damage caused by it was not as severe as they had initially thought. But despite this, the band decided to go ahead and retreat from the dungeon entirely anyway, so they could sell some of the treasure they had found, and so Tadwin could learn a few more spells, while Brom could learn more extracts. It would also allow the band to formulate more effective plans for the exploration of the ruins, now that they had a better idea of what they would be facing. Before leaving though, Tadwin used his spell to locate secret doors and found two doors in the lift chamber. One of them led to an empty room where vast amounts of gold had once been stored. The other led to a passageway right next to the shaft going down, and although Esremire took precautions against falling down the shaft by tying a rope around his waist, he was still knocked off his feet and took a bit of a beating when he opened the door and a stream of water came gushing out. Afterwards, it was decided to try and approach the passageway from the other direction. A few other doors and passageways were investigated as well, but most of these ended in collapsed areas where the rubble blocking the way was either too deep so as to make clearing the way impractical, or was extensive enough to require hours of digging. Finally, the band returned to where the golden statue was of the naked woman. There, Tadwin cast a spell that shrunk the statue to a size small enough to fit within one of the band’s magical backpacks. With this done, the band hopped on the lift and had their henchmen pull them up. A few hours later, they were back in the city. Over the course of the following week, very few developments came up. There was no news about Imogen or any of the band’s other enemies, although Tadwin continued to scry upon Heironymous Spune and saw that he still spent his time somewhere in a swamp and was occasionally seen working with lizardfolk. Towards the end of the week however, the band got word that the Champions of Valor had been hired by the Directing Oligarchy to investigate the Mistmarsh. On Freeday, the 14th day of Patchwall then, the band returned to the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, and began their sixth expedition into the Tower of War. This time, Ashba, who was still recovering from the recent death of her fiancé, chose to rejoin them in an effort to get on with her life. After checking in with Stillguar and the dwarves who guarded the tower, and making their usual agreement with them, the band proceeded to the fourth underground level as they had done previously. Along the way however, the band saw evidence that the troglodytes on the third level had been attacked and possibly even wiped out, though the band did not bother to take a closer look. It was assumed that the duergar had attacked them and the band had no concerns about this. Back on the fourth underground level, the band picked up where they had left off, in the area where the wraith had been encountered. This time, they were better prepared to face any undead, including the use of a daylight spell that Kelgor cast upon himself. Although three of the bedchambers had been burned up by Tadwin’s fireball spell, a fourth such room was found still intact, complete with a black opal laying on the bed’s pillow. Here again, they encountered a wraith, but this time the wraith was rendered helpless in the daylight spell and was easily destroyed. Still, as before, the band chose to leave the black opal behind. At the end of the cold and forbidding corridor, the band came to a door that opened up into a sitting room complete with a fireplace and a couple of couches. As the band entered the room, the fireplace sputtered weakly to life, apparently caused by some kind of enchantment. On the mantel piece was a golden statue of a battle scene depicting a horde of trolls and ogres destroying a small castle. The band took the statue and moved on to the only other door in the room, which led to a narrow set of zigzagging stairs. At the top of these stairs a door opened up into a large, nicely decorated kitchen. Here again, the fireplace burst to flame, though with much more fortitude than the previous one. This kitchen gave one the impression that it may once have fed the leaders of the underworld. Laid out on the kitchen table in a fold of black cloth were eleven gems of various shapes and sizes. But before the band could examine anything here, they had to contend with a spectre that suddenly emerged through a door on the far side of the room. Kelgor and Corvyn charged up to it thinking it would be affected by the daylight spell that was still going. But to their surprise, the spectre was not affected and it attacked Corvyn, this time actually draining some of his life force. Fortunately, they were then able to kill the spectre before it did any more harm. With the spectre destroyed, the band looked about the room and found, in addition to the eleven gems, a couple of potions. Kelgor cast an augury spell and could find no problem with the gems, so Esremire grabbed them. Afterwards, the band moved on and found a pantry with food, some of it rotting, along with three kegs of beer, wine and ale. Beyond that they found two more bedrooms, one of which contained the corpse of a dwarf-like creature that they identified as being a derro. In one of these rooms they encountered another wraith, but thanks to the daylight spell, they had no difficulty destroying it. The only other door from here was a concealed door, and the passageway beyond did not go very far before it ended in a collapsed area that was too heavily caved in to try and clear. So the band retreated back to the temple and opened a set of double doors there that they had not yet explored beyond. These doors led to a short but wide passageway that connected to the narrow passageway where the water was flowing through from the lift room. Off to the northeast, there was also a large set of metal bound stone doors that appeared to be barred on the far side. Rather than try to break down this door, the band instead gave Corvyn a light source and let him drink one of the potions they had just found, which Brom had identified as a potion of gaseous form. While in gaseous form, Corvyn was able to move beyond the doors and, after resuming his natural form, remove the heavy beam that barred the doors. The band then opened the door and entered the small chamber beyond which led to a narrow set of stairs going up. Brom snuck up ahead invisibly, and soon came to an intersection that connected with the corridor that he had previously discovered beyond the flooded stairwell. Just prior to the intersection was a set of stairs leading down to the southwest; and to the northeast, lay a room where four huge trolls appeared to be guarding a crude altar with a similarly crude statue of an ogre-troll type creature that was probably intended to be Vaprak. Beyond the trolls was another set of double doors. Though the trolls had not noticed the presence of Brom, they had, however, noticed the light cast by Kelgor’s daylight spell and were on high alert. So Brom went back to his companions to tell them what he had found and to discuss a battle plan. Once they had devised a plan, Brom snuck past the trolls again and waited for the others to approach. Unfortunately, the plan did not go quite as hoped, for the trolls proved to be quicker than expected. But Kelgor ran up into their midst, momentarily drawing their attention and avoiding their attacks, thanks to a spell and his ability to dodge giant types with relative ease. Then Corvyn moved in and began wailing away at the trolls with his giant-bane greatsword. It made little difference then that the battle did not go as planned, for the trolls were no match against Corvyn and his sword, even after he had been drained of life energy. With the added threat of the sneak attacks from both of the rogues and a dwarf with a magical mace, the trolls were quickly defeated. Once they were down or about to drop, Tadwin then finished them off with a magical flaming sphere.