Back to Tyr, back to a different kind of oppression, but at least its one that has a face, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling relief at our return. It wasn’t easy however, as I will explain…
Among the defeated zombies in the middle floor of the tower we surveyed a wealth of weapons around us and after a few of our number armed themselves from the store we were left with some bone short swords, bone long swords and some excellent quality kank carpace armour.
We proceeded up the tower stairs, spying four more guard zombies on above us and I attacked, sending the first plummeting over the top of the tower to the ground below with a mighty kick. With axe and arrow, magic and psionics we slaughtered them. Taking a moment to look around we noticed that after a short distance surrounding the manor our vision was being obscured by an unnatural effect giving the impression that we were inside some kind of mirage. Abdiel and Redgar were able to explain it as a mix of necrotic and psionic energy (which we later realised was projecting a false image to those looking in – of the house as it used to be, with living inhabitants going about their business). We did not have time to dwell on these thoughts as more zombie guards from the other towers were alerted to our presence and began to fire on us with their crossbows. We briefly considered assaulting the other towers, but knowing that we would be exposed to several volleys of crossbow fire we elected to head back into the manor and find another way round.
We went back into the main house, with Solzak finding more secret doors and cautiously checking for additional traps as we went. We discovered a further secret armoury at the back of the house where we collected more loot. We then headed back into the main house, looking for areas we had not yet explored. Entering the main hall again Abdiel and Solzak were suddenly absorbed by their own reflection in the huge vanity mirror in the room! They seemed to wait and stare for a minute or so and then suddenly leapt back with a jolt, as if shocked by an invisible force. They were both visibly shaken and refused to talk of their ordeal before Abdiel angrily unleashed his magic at the mirror, shattering it into a thousand pieces. It must truly have been a horrific image he saw there for it to be worth inflicting that much bad luck on oneself? Moving back through the hall of serpent statues and the kitchen we then found a small living room with several pieces of furniture covered in cloth, as if waiting to be moved. Inside the room also there was a bookcase containing tomes of ancient lore that spoke of the Silt Kraken. As Abdiel consulted the tome he spoke that little of what was contained within was more than he had previously discovered in the Templar’s library, however there were more pages that detailed the possible location of a temple beneath Tyr that if opened would show the locations of the pieces of the crown! At this point the pages of the book were missing, so for now, we still have little information of use.
We decided to take what evidence we had back to M’Ke rather than brave the underground tunnel and attempt to leave via the wall of the tower we had cleared. Solzak attempted to fix a rope to the battlements but was thwarted by a hail of arrows from the zombie-manned guard towers. We resolved that our only option was to destroy the rest of the guards in the other tower so that we could leave via the way we came and not be shot while we escaped. Finding another secret door to the North-West tower we crept up the stairs and found another guard room in which Solzak set upon and ambushed the zombies in spectacular style, taking down the first with ease. The others were not so easy and put up a tougher fight. Regdar’s psionics killed another and damaged the remaining two, and also Chuck (who of course wasn’t happy, buts it hard to tell with a Thri-Kreen!). In more moments we had destroyed them and headed carefully up to the top of the tower. Attempting another ambush, this time we were not so fortunate as Solzak stumbled, on the stairs alerting the guards who sent a hail of bolts his way. We charged in, growing increasingly tired as the afternoon sun beat down on our backs. We faced a tough fight and I almost fell beneath the vicious claws and teeth as two guards attempted to tear me limb from limb, but with endurance and perseverance we triumphed and won the day.
Heading back to the basement and where this horror began we tried to leave by the cellar doors and found that they were psionically blocked. Abdiel and Redgar took a moment to analyse the strength of the enchantment, and although they could not bring the field down, they would be able to weaken the enchantment long enough for us to escape, but that it would be a long and exhausting ritual. As they began to chant and utter words of magic and the way Redgar was forced to stop, as he was too tired to complete the complex and demanding ritual. Debating whether we should risk resting in such a terrible place we resolved that it was the preferable option to find a place to rest up in the house that we knew was ‘safe’ as opposed to venturing deeper in our current state of exhaustion and fatigue and thus enable Abdiel and Redgar to rest before attempting the ritual again. Chuck and I posted guard as the others tried to sleep, but they did not sleep comfortably, their dreams were filled with horrific images and haunting nightmares.
Abdiel and Redgar awoke with fresh resolve however and began the ritual with haste. An hour passed as we nervously waited in pitch black, fearful of drawing more attention to ourselves than was necessary. At one point Solzak believed he heard sound coming from further in the basement, but it was not clear. Success! Redgar, Abdiel and the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief as a great rush of fresh air and sand blasted through the now open cellar doors, we were free! Carefully we stepped out, into the cool night, and clinging to the manor wall crept around the grounds until we could disappear into the dunes. On the way we stumbled on the injured and dehydrated forms of the Aarakocra we had previously ‘rescued’. Solzak insisted we take them back to Tyr; quite why Chuck and I had to carry the stupid animals I don’t know, but maybe their bones or feathers could be worth something?
The night was cold, and in a way I was grateful of the Aarakocra on my back, which made quite a warm cloak, even though I could feel the warmth of his blood was faint; it was dying, so we went swiftly, led by the Elf, striding ahead as if for a moment taking on the traits of a desert Elf rather than one whom was raised as a trader?
As we approached Tyr we realised that it was late in the evening. The man with the emerald eyes?! We were supposed to meet him tonight? We were not late for the meeting though and would still have time to find him, but first we had to get into Tyr, and we didn’t exactly look like your ‘average’ visitors to the city at this time of the night. The gate guards and the ‘jobsworth’ Templar Abdullah were reluctant to help us through the gates but Solzak attempted to win him over by telling them a tall tale about working for an apothecary and the birds were to be sold for ingredients, despite the state of them. He offered Abdullah some coin, he wanted more and Abdiel had to step in and negotiate him down (this is where having a Templar with us could prove useful). He relented on the understanding that Abdiel would put in a good word for him with his superiors so that he could graduate from such a menial post, but of course, we only need to get in, not help anyone out with their job.
We were in! Debating where to go, our options were many; to an apothecary for the bird-men? To House M’Ke to share what we knew, or back to Perseus and Shalaya at house Asticles. Of course then there was the meeting with the Man with the Emerald Eyes…