"Mistresss, mistresss, you musst leave, they are coming! The masster’s creations have failed! Look … the calculations do not lie, we musst leave!" … Socrates (aka: Dr. Ratinstein)
As the Brigade cautiously explores the remaining floors of the tower they arrive at the second floor which is devoted to living space that up until recently had been Falrinth’s private chamber but more recently had housed Sarshan. There a curtained-off section holds a four-poster bed, now ruined and slashed by the mangler, while a large banquet table dominates the rest of the chamber. There the heroes find nothing of value, nor do they notice the spying rats.
Access to the first floor is again provided by a narrow staircase made of wooden spiral in the center of the floor. On the first floor of the tower, the ground floor, they find had been used mainly for storage, with two smaller chambers set up as a kitchen and pantry. Large sliding doors of iron in the east wall formerly provided access to the tower for crates, barrels, and so forth. The floor is interrupted by a jagged hole that splits the stone floor forming a hazard in the pantry’s entrance. Below flickering light wells up from a cavern below. Shadows move within that light, a sign of something lurking deep beneath the tower.
As Bhenedict descends the winding stairs he sees rats scurrying into the hole in the floor, large rats, the size of dogs. "You better get! I’m gonna part yer hair wi’ this hammer ye worm-livered vermin!"
Cautiously the party spreads out upon the first floor careful to avoid the hole in the floor. Looking across the hole into the pantry they see the shelves that had once been crammed with foodstuffs lining the walls were now ravaged the boxes and crates they once housed had now joined the dirt and refuses on the floor along with dried dung filling much of the available floor space like a horrid smelling nest.
Searching the kitchen they find a large fireplace dominating the chamber. Cooking paraphernalia has fallen from cupboards and sideboards lay scattered about floor with a portly human male huddled within the devastation of this kitchen. His straggly brown hair is disheveled, mud staining his robes and face where the only clean stripes being the paths washed by the elder’s tears.
Having been distracted by the tomes housed within the library on the third floor, Bingus trailed behind the others. As he arrives he pauses by the hole in the floor cautiously approaching as he hears a woman’s voice speaking softly below. Bingus struggles to make out that the words noting that they are not normal conversation but rather the words of a ritual, one that he was very familiar with … a linked portal. Portals of this type were Bingus’s expertise and based on the tone and measure of the chant, Bingus guessed that the caster was close to the ritual’s completion.
Bingus whispers "Vani …" and gestures to the halfling to come near and listen. Not nearly so quietly as Bingus had hoped, Vani approaches peering into the hole. The chamber below glows red but remains mostly dark and shadowed. The floor of the chamber lies twenty feet below. Vani notes the quick movement of some rats and begins gesturing wildly with his hands drawing raw arcane power into his hands and announces, "Let’s light them up." releasing a shower of radiance into the lower chamber that bursts out, creating a circle of burning embers dispersing the rats in the chamber below.
Frowning Bingus causes a bright light to appear with a wave of his hand which he then casts like a rock into the lower chamber lighting it up giving the pair of spell-casters a glimpse of the chamber.
For a second they see others in the chamber below and they hear a plea … "Hideee Me." then some force below swallows the light, the chamber falls into darkness once more. Then suddenly a burning bolt of sheer radiance unerringly strikes from the depths burning into Vani leaving a perfectly circular hole in his clothing and burning scar on his chest. This is followed by an invisible burst of psychic energy exploding upon the pair of casters causing a crushing pain within their heads and stunning both of the magic-manipulating heroes.
Unaware of the battle outside, Eoffram questions the man found within the kitchen but finds the man too distraught to speak, just beyond Eoffram’s reach. The man’s eyes stare towards Eoffram with a far-away glare, not so much at Eoffram as through him … his eyes cloudy, moist and extremely weary. Try as might, Eoffram can’t seem to get him focused enough to hear him. The Councilor grabs the man face turning it towards him … "What happened here."
In answer all the disheveled man is a fearful gaze at the gaping hole in the floor and a trembling voiced word, "rats…"
As the party becomes aware of the plight of Bingus and Vani they start rushing to their assistance. Eoffram is the last to arrive as he struggles with Falrinth in the kitchen.
Theren quickly goes to work on Vani and Bingus’s injuries. Bhenedict lowers a rope into the chamber while Bairdyn ties it off as Ian and Ssarina leap into the hole.
As Ssarina lands she opens her mouth with a roar, and a deadly blast of power as her breath blasts forth to engulfing her foes within the chamber. Simultaneously Ian surrounds himself Crimson Crystals of Cytorrak (letting one crystal fly off and strike the ratman knocking him prone) then cloaking himself in the dark light of moon, Nutari, a bolt of primal energy flies from his sword and strikes one of the githyanki warriors and then renders Ian invisible to the villians.
The cavern features rough cut walls. A shadar-kai witch has inscribed a circle on the floor of the cavern in chalk and powdered gemstone. She is guarded by githyanki warriors. Behind her, using the witch as a shield huddles a hunched humanoid rat wearing a white lab coat and glasses, his body covered in dirty gray fur, his long tail twitching nervously behind him.
Three floodgates pierce the north wall near the ceiling. The left gates are open and spewing blood chaos toward the village. It is obvious that this is the flow that has blasted the tunnel through the hill. The flow from the open right-hand gates has burned another tunnel through the hill to the tower’s moat. The middle gates remain closed. Large gear wheels are fixed to the piping apparently used to either open or close the floodgates. And everywhere the chamber is filled with rats; small rats, giant rats, huge piles of swarming rat and even strangely altered, evil-looking, verminous creatures distinguishable from their normal cousins by the pulsating brains that protrude from the tops of their skulls.
A furious battle engulfs the chamber as Bhenedict slides down the rope followed by Bairdyn while Vani and Bingus attack from above. Theren staying back standing guard and looking to aid whenever necessary.
The githyanki reach outward with telekinetic force locking Ssarina and Bairdyn in place as huge feral rats weighing over a stone each surround Bhenedict attacking the dwarf from all sides.
"Have a face full o’ boot! I’m gonna kill all yer pets, then I’m coming for yer bowlegged whore, Doctor Ratinstein!." yells Bhenedict.
Socrates, the rat-man in the lab coat, aims his Mark I laser pistol and fires emitting a beam of focused blue energy burning into Bairdyn. "Stop them!" he squeals. Most of the rats respond immediately swarming the heroes massed at their feat dragging away from Socrates but the most frightening among them, those with the exposed pulsing brains fall back. Their psychic whispers … foreign, intelligence in an alien indistinctly rodent-like way flooding the consciousness of the heroes within the chamber, painfully distracting them. Then enmass the rats launch a psychic barrage, a mental storm of such power that it overwhelms the heroes’ minds causing ears to bleed as their brains are overwhelmed, wanting to explode from the heroes’ overworked skulls.
Vani and Bingus answer driving the rats off with arcane explosions of fire and lightning forcing the rats to withdraw or die, often catching their friends within the blasts but always Theren is there aiding the heroes healing from the floor above beyond the reach of the fray below.
As Benny and Ian recover they take the fight to the githyanki killing each of the extra-planer warriors in one-on-one combat. Vani enters the chamber sliding down the rope while focusing an attack upon Socrates and the witch such that he buys Bairdyn a much needed respite from the Ratinstein’s assault.
Non-plussed the witch charges forward releasing a bolt of pure blackness at the sorcerous halfling. As the bolt strikes it is absorbed into Vani’s mind blinding him to the outside world. Amid the defenders, Bhenedict and Ian, the witch reaches out, her hands coated in blackfire … her body shielded within a web of writhing shadow, her approach radiating a burst of ebon blackness that attaches itself like a living thing to the heroes slowing their movements and reactions.
Calling upon his ability to alter probabilities Ian imagines himself to be other than where he is and upon observation discovers that it is so and thus is not where the witch expected him to be. Quickly lashing out at the witch’s remaining defenders with a blast of force he sends them and the rat swarms flying into the surrounding blood chaos leaving her flanked by Ian and Bhenedict with none of her defenders remaining and only the rat-man crouching in the far shadows.
Bingus enters the cavern riding upon the wings of the magic ebony fly. Seeing Socrates finally exposed behind the portal circle drawn on floor he blasts the rat-man filling his mind with visions of ruin. Socrates screams in terror as in his mind the chamber explodes in a great cataclysm causes him to back away as the wave of destruction engulfs him; in reality backing himself within the flow of blood chaos were he dies screaming as the flow carries him away.
The shadar-kai witch suddenly bolts moving wraith-like toward the portal, walking directly through her opponents, rematerializing slowly only after she has vanished in the portal.
Their enemies defeated the party of heroes address their wounds and search the chamber finding a small chest and a crate. Within the chest they find twenty, small but valuable gems within a velvet pouch. The items in the crate are far stranger and more unique, there are five items:
1) Four sticky red stones, secured within a small vial
2) A shiny metal rod, constructed with a grip attached to a hollowed metal pipe … near the grip there is a small catch opening chamber filled with what might be a metal stone or projectile.
3) A large smooth fleshy colored material, folded into a box-like shape and fixed with ties; somewhat heavy, with a thick cord clearly attached to be pulled possibly releasing the tying binds.
4) An strange looking rod, about two and a half feet long, with paired grips and a targeted lens, well-forged of metal and a hard smooth material, not unlike polished stone.
5) An expertly forged suit of white and silver colored plate armor, form fit and of a type never seen by any of the heroes before
Having explored the chamber they turn their attention back to Falrinth. It is not until they physically drag the man into the sunken chamber demonstrating that the enemies have been dispatched that the sage finally speaks confirming what Bingus already knows, that the circle was evidence of a linked portal ritual, but he also provides other details.
"The runes marking the circle are indicative the portal’s target … unless I am mistaken I would place it as the Ever-tree … the first great marker of Klarn, the source. A giant ash tree that is our only true link to the other planes of existence. I heard Sarshan speak of this and of two tree serpents, pets he named Dawn and Dusk. This is dark magic and most dangerous. Whatever reason attracts these villains there bodes evil-tidings to us all."
Cast: Bairdyn (PC/TomAZ), Bhenedict (PC/Rob), Eoffram (PC/Mart), Vani (PC/Van), Ian (PC/Andy), Ssarina (PC/Heather), Theren (PC/TomSac), Bingus (PC/Josh)
Summary/Goals: Find out what happened to the Seers of Ishtar and rescue Megan Switfblade.