The Rise of Tiamat, session 9

Xonthal’s Tower, Mount Hlim.

The adventurers could see the tower, but they were getting no closer to it, having been returning to the glade where a sundial with three shadows stood again and again and again. They headed off once more, taking a path they’d taken before, no closer to finding the solution.

This time they ended up in an area of giant mushrooms and fungi, where a giant caterpillar sat upon one of the mushrooms, smoking a hookah.

(You should recognise the caterpillar from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In fact, I lifted this entire encounter from Gary Gygax’s Alice-inspired adventure of Dungeonland, which I adore and have run on a number of occasions).

The adventurers, particularly Mordechai and Ice, were delighted when he began to speak, asking them what brought them to his glade, and blowing smoke rings in their direction. Ice jumped to catch one, and discovered it turned into a jewelled necklace that settled around her throat. Unfortunately, Mordechai was less fortunate – his smoke ring turned into a necklace of strangulation, and as he went down choking, the caterpillar attacked, breathing lightning at the party! It raked them with its claws, and soon the battle was fully joined. Music dispelled the magic of the necklace to restore Mordechai, and the doughty fighter returned to the fray, engaging the caterpillar – really a behir – head-on, whilst Kai the Warlock send eldritch blasts at it from afar, and Darius the monk ran forward, struck it, then disengaged and ran back.

The adventurers took significant damage from its breath weapon, but when all fighting together, they were a powerful force. Soon the caterpillar was dead, and they retrieve a shining jewel from within its hookah. The group continued on… and returned to the sundial of three shadows.

Astonishingly, they finally solved the problem of the sundial, leaving by the path from which they entered the glade. The group found themselves come to a fourth sundial, this one showing four shadows, which spun and disappeared into the central point.

This one they solved quite quickly, with Ice jumping onto the sundial itself, and being teleported to the fifth sundial, with the others following.

The final sundial had eight shadows. A couple of wrong solutions were tried, with the group fighting giant chess pieces in the meantime, before the solution was found and the group finally reached the Tower. It stood before them, silent. No sign could be seen of Iskander.

And so they entered the tower.

The chamber they entered was large, with no discernible exits, but with two balconies overlooking the chamber. A dead cultist lay on the floor before them, killed by a dagger blow to the heart. And behind them was a panel with several unusual symbols on it. Ice and Music quickly discerned that it was the controller for a teleporter, which was the way to move between levels of the tower. Darius, climbing to the balconies, confirmed that teleporters also existed on the two balconies.

Cautiously, they activated the teleporter, and they came to a room where several cultists were examining the bones of a dragon on the floor. Mordechai raced towards them, engaging them in combat, slaying one instantly. Unfortunately, one of the cultists ran past them and engaged the teleporter again, leaving Mordechai alone in the chamber… except for four angry cultists!

The others found themselves in a chamber with several angry cult mages!

The cultists left with Mordechai discovered that the eldritch knight was quite a handful even on his own, and were soon slain. A few moments later, his companions reappeared, slightly scorched, to report there were fewer cult mages to deal with!

The adventurers continued to explore the tower, finding a few cultists but no sign of Iskander or the dragon mask.

Eventually, they discovered the path to the dungeons…

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