Uktar 18th, 1372 DR The Year of Wild Magic
Day 39 – Afternoon
The Road of Lanterns
Sneezy takes hold of the silver key we found on Maldrick and it begins to grow warm and vibrate in his hands. He feels it pulling him towards the north west so we set out upon the Road of Lanterns, the main entry and exit for the Seven Pillared Hall. This wide passage slopes up towards the surface, switching back on itself every five hundred feet or so as it bores its way up to fresh air and sunshine. The way is lit by copper coloured magic lanterns and every 50 feet there is a tall demonic statue marking the distance between the Hall and the surface.
Not far after the 5th switchback, almost half way to the surface, the key swings about to point at what seems to be a blank wall. We search the area carefully but can find no entrance either hidden or magical and thinking Sneezy has made a mistake we turn to move off however we only go a few feet when Sneezy is jerked back towards the wall again. The key is most insistent that we go in this direction so Sneezy runs its point over the rock wall, moving in all directions in small increments trying to fine tune the key’s urging until finally it slides into a section of what seems solid wall with an audible click. Turning the key causes a section of the wall to open up in front of us to reveal a smooth chiselled passage leading into the mountainside.
We enter the corridor and Sneezy removes the key from the wall allowing the door to close behind us much to Bashful’s distress; strange that a dwarf would be worried about being closed up inside a tunnel but perhaps it is true that we have been under this mountain for far too long and even that small semblance of openness would feel welcome. The corridor is not long and leads into a square room some 60 feet to a side at the centre of which is inscribed a strange circle made of softly glowing silvery runes. Seeing no other course of action we approach the circle to try and decipher the runes but before we can get near a terrifying being takes forms in its centre. The creature inside is frightening to behold; a ten foot tall skeletal being dressed in torn and rotten garments, it’s left eye and hand are missing and some sort of glistening flesh covers part of its scalp out of which protrude a crude set of lips, nose and an eye almost in mockery of the monster’s own toothily grinning mouth, jutting nasal cavity and vacant eye socket.
As the being forms we step back and ready ourselves for combat but upon completing its entrance the creature simply stands in place and as we look closer we can see that it is semi-translucent; an apparition projected from afar rather than the true body of Vecna itself. It laughs at our confusion then lifts a tome in its one good hand and says:
“You are not on my list. Who are you pitiful beings and what brings you to this place”.
Happy is first to overcome his fears and he steps forth to stake our claim:
“We are adventurers here to seek the mage Paldemar so that we may bring him to justice. We demand entry to the Tower of Mysteries, let us pass foul creature”.
Vecna seems put out by Happy’s challenge and replies with great arrogance:
“Do not seek to do battle with me little one for you would not like the end result. If you seek entrance to the tower it will not be gained by combat; entry only comes at my choosing and at my price. What can you offer to the dreaded lord of secrets? I seek lore, power and your souls. Speak quickly now for I have little patience for mortal beings.”
Uncertain what the creature means we all begin to babble out anything we can think of which may take its interest:
Happy tells it of Queen Phalaxis, her growing power in the south and his suspicions that the pillars she is building across the country are meant in some manner to consolidate her hold upon Nerath.
Sneezy speaks of a young girl who will one day be revealed as a Princess and the true ruler of Nerath. He then tries to teach Vecna one of his spells but whether due to fear or some other reason finds himself unable to impart the knowledge clearly. Vecna tells Sneezy that he should spend more time attending to learning his craft fully instead of wasting his powers using them for combat.
Bashful tries to intimidate the creature by baring his chest and beating on it with his axe but Vecna is unmoved be the display and just laughs.
Cymbalta adds to Happy’s story and tells of the increasing cold of winter and their belief that it is unnatural and in some way tied to the Queen’s pillars.
Haggis opens his mouth and utters a great snort and tries to insult the creature by blowing raspberries in its face but just as with Bashful’s show of force the creature is unmoved by Haggis’ taunts.
Snow is the only one who gains the creature’s full attention as she panders to its pride and compliments both is imposing appearance and undoubted power. She warns Vecna that his minion Paldemar seeks to gain too much power for himself and could grow to threaten Vecna and she asks that he let us pass so that we may deal with this threat to his power before it becomes too great.
To our luck it seems that Snow is useful for more than two things as her charming words and warning finally win over the presence. However before it lets us pass it takes one final price and extracts from each of us a small portion of our life force (until we next level we are each down 3 healing surges).
Having met its price the apparition of Vecna points it finger at the runic circle and it begins to glow more brightly.
“Hurry now little ones for the circle will activate in a short time and shall only remain so for a brief interval. Gather yourselves within its confines and you will be transported into my tower wherein, so long as you do not disturb my contemplations, you may deal with Paldemar as you wish. If he overcomes you then he is fit to be my minion, and if not then I have plenty more acolytes at my command”.
It then chuckles once more and begins to fade uttering a final “Byeee” as it disappears.
Forcing aside our trepidation about entering the home of a God we step into the circle. Its glow intensifies with each passing second until it is far too bright too look upon and then with a sound like the breaking of a glass the light pulses once and we feel ourselves pulled into the void.
We learn some of the personal peccadillos of Vecna, undead God of Secrets. He likes longs walks on the beach, a really good book and crushing the skulls of puppies so he can suck up the juicy marrowbone jelly of their life-force.
Aparition of Vecna