USD Scales of War

Session Sixteen: Testing the Mind, Body, and Soul

Having traveled from Brindol carrying the platinum longsword, the heroes find themselves at the entrance to Fortress Graystone. Against a cliff face, a massive stone staircase rises, narrowing as it reaches a set of double stone doors set into the rock wall. Four large statues, each depicting a githzerai warrior in full combat regalia, stand on pedestals watching over the entrance to the fortress. A small waterfall flows down the side of the mountain, causing half of the staircase to be slick and treacherous. As the party moves up the stairs, several gnoll guards and a near-translucent spirit prepare to attack. The gnolls and the spirit-a stonewalker that possesses the statues-provide stiff resistance, but the party is inevitably victorious.

After the battle, the heroes move carefully into the fortress. Stepping inside, the party can immediately detect the influence of the mysterious githzerai. They glimpse a wide octagonal chamber with five portals glowing and pulsing with arcane energy on five of the walls. Further, the far side of the room appears to be made of extremely thick glass, revealing a second chamber beyond with four portals on its walls. Occupying these rooms are a small band of gnolls looking confused and frustrated. Seeing objects to release their frustration upon, they quickly advance on the heroes to do battle. This encounter presents a unique challenge. As the gnolls hurl party members through the portals and vice versa, creatures are haphazardly transported to differing portals in one of three corresponding rooms. This results in a constantly shifting three-room battle that nearly leaves the Pelorian cleric Erik dead on the floor; the githzerai mind trap is not easily overcome, but fortunately, quick thinking by the other party members is able to save the day before it is too late.

Moving further into the fortress, the heroes enter a training chamber of some kind. The ceiling of this huge chamber rises some 60 feet overhead, and a waterfall descends from an opening in the ceiling to a pool set within a raised platform. Two stone gutters carry water down from the pool into channels in the floor, creating small rivers that flow through circuitous paths in the ground with great speed. Every few seconds, the noise of stone on stone sounds as these aqueducts in the floor shift to follow a new path. Horridly disfigured gnolls and their demonized hyena mounts occupy this room, and they are tough foes on any terrain. This terrain, however, provides a unique challenge that requires balance and grace. Fortunately for the heroes, they possess the greater skill and emerge victorious.

Seeing an exit from this room, Modyom quickly advances. The door, though, has been jammed shut with the broken shaft of a spear. Scrawled across its face are warnings written in three languages: “DANGER! HAUNTED! STAY OUT!” Paying this warning no mind, the dwarf quickly opens the door.

This huge chamber is divided into two zones. To the south is a wide hall with sweeping curved symmetrical walls. TO the north is a rough-edged cavern full of odd angles and irregular ridges across the floor. The walls of this second chamber have been painted in chaotic and clashing colors, three pits along its edges falling off into darkness. A wade wall separates these two areas, cut by a circular platform that rises fifteen feet high. When the heroes move into this chamber, it is empty. But as Theren steps on the pedestal, three githzerai spirits silently appear. They wield no weapons and begin to question the elven warrior about his mind and body. Quickly, the elf is challenged to a test of combat. Apparently, this chamber represented a test for those trained in the martial arts: one must master balance and tame the chaos. Theren faces off against the three spirits acting as one, and then fights the chaotic and dangerous psionic warriors in the southern chamber. He emerges victorious with the help of the party (a test of any warrior is also a test of his companions). As the spirits end their combat, they bequeath a prize to Theren. A wall slides inward, revealing a secret chamber containing a small Ki Focus.

The party has yet to find the dangerous gnoll Fangren, who seeks to make himself an exarch of Yeenoghu. Nor have they found the portal to the Elemental Chaos that could awaken the imprisoned Amyria. To find this, the heroes must journey deeper into the Den of the Destroyer!

Notes: Theren finds a Ki Focus, and Vimak constantly tries to explain that the party is simply trying to make a delivery.



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