After the battle with the terrifying hook monster, our party of brave adventurers followed the tunnel down its one path — a path which turned out to be the subfloor of Princess Miranda’s Tower.
Princess Miranda’s Tower is an ancient structure, which oddly appears as though it sprouted from the earth, rather than a structure of exotic masonry. Rumor has it that the tower goes back to the time of the Titan Gods. It is know to be made of immensely strong stone. Even the largest boulders cast from catapults have not damaged the structure. Many say the Titans themselves carved the stone like someone would whittle away wood. However, many historians believe the Titans most likely used slaves to build, instead of any other tall tale. The interior is said to contain many inscriptions, all being unintelligible or from some ancient language. The tower is made up of a multitude of levels, all made of strong oak design. A rough stone staircase lines the interior walls, spiraling up to the top.
The Princess — the second born daughter to King Cyric — has been exiled in the Tower. Her father visits her regularly, yet these visits are usually short. The story goes is that the 24 year old Miranda has been held within the walls of the tower for four years, apparently the victim of madness.
Miranda was said to be a sweet child — and curious. While most princesses cared about their wardrobe or a young knight at court, Miranda was fascinated in the arts of magic. This perturbed King Cyric, and her sister Elise — who has always reviled her. Rumor has it that King Cyric favored his sweet curious child over Elise, his eldest daughter and heiress to the throne, who was cunning and shrewd. Anyways, back to to the story of Princess Miranda’s exile to the tower…
Queen Zara, mother to the two daughters, and wife to King Cyric would die of the fever The rumor is that Miranda, having studied some magic in a book, attempted to revive her mother using dark magic. The experiment was successful. But in doing so, the spell twisted Queen Zara into an abomination which attempted to devour a royal guard. All this happened in front of her and her father’s eyes. Miranda — watching the horror of her zombie-like mother trying to eat a guard, and then watching her become deceased a second time —caused her to descend into madness. It is said she never recovered from the traumatic experience, guilt and shame.
To protect her from herself and others, Miranda was quarantined in the top floor of the tower – guarded by an elite group of soldiers, who have also sworn to keep her from meddling in any magic.
Okay, enough recent history, let’s get into what our murder hobos got into…._
The large sub-floor was a wide open space with a dirt floor. A vaulted wooden ceiling looms 40 feet up with a rough stone staircase lining the interior walls. At the top of the steps, a wooden constructed bulkhead tunnel with a solid dungeon door blocks any further ascension.
In the center of the room stands a large archway, which is elevated with a few rough steps leading up to it. The stone structure is of a bright green marble complexion. Etchings mark the arch. No one is able to determine the language, except that it looks very ancient. A strange-shaped basin protrudes from the right, with a flat, smooth stone surface. The center of the archway is bright white, much like a perfectly painted drawbridge.
Gaitus notices some fungus that he can use in his alchemy attached to the arch. In his attempt to scrape the sheen-like substance from the fungus, he pierces one of the mushrooms. A mist explodes from the fungus and sends the party into a Winter Hallucination Dream about some green demon terrorizing a village of gnomes.
Eventually they snap-to, and resume their activities. Gormak finds a little blood next to the steps of archway, which he deems as black bear blood. He goes into full hunter’s mode. Spoilers: He never finds a bear.
Instead of going back through the tunnel, the party (specifically N’ogg) decides to bash the dungeon door at the top of the steps with Chop-Chop. It does the trick, and miraculously no one in the upper levels hears a thing. Why is that, you ask? Evidently the staff and royal guard assigned to Miranda’s Tower are too busy trying to deal with a demon that evidently has possessed Princess Miranda.
The party listens intently. Farhan is summoned by a royal healer, as Miranda’s needs require a religious intervention. It is when Farhan arrives that N’ogg makes herself known by stepping out. The guards — already on edge — make a move to attack the half-orc. Gaitus also makes a move to blend in, but nobody notices him due to the towering barbarian causing a big scene.
Cooler heads prevail when Farhan vouches for the party. Just then a demon-like voice thunders from above. Everyone agrees they should probably go check that out and they ascend the steps to Miranda’s chambers.
The party is instantly greeted by a foul stench in Miranda’s chamber. Gaitus recognizes it as alchemy related. As they enter they see and smell quite the scene.
Miranda is being attended by a small staff, including the healer. The Princess lies in bed covered with boils; her skin is a light green tint and her hair is strewn about the floor around the bed. She speaks in tongues, which seem to come and go in waves. Farhan rushes over and begins to pray. Quick thinking, Lusor casts a spell to keep her from speaking, and it seems to have some effect.
Meanwhile, the party does some investigating. Gormak finds some more blood (this time, he finds it to be Elvish. He asks the captain of the guard if any elves had been present. No traces of elves have been seen. Gormak also finds some of the trippy spore substance which sent the party into the hallucination adventure. So odd!
In a personal study area of the room, Gaitus finds some expended potion bottles, complete with the insignia of the Black Hand. He is troubled by this, as this is his guild. Gaitus then attempts to ask party members to split and go find Digan of the Black Hand and warn/inquire about the discovered bottles. No one agrees, but he does convince a trustworthy guard to deliver the message.
Tyson finds a spell book of dark magic. One of the spells in the book was that of N’ogg’s old rival of the Rog-Ridguz clan. N’ogg cannot believe tbis and rips the book from Tyson’s hand. By the looks of it, Slog is somehow alive. N’ogg had killed Slog in combat. But N’ogg abandoned the clan and left it without a leader. Perhaps the clan reverted to dark magic as a way to resurrect their leader? As it was, you needed to earn clan leadership by vanquishing another’s leader.
King Cyric rushes in.He is given a grim prognosis. There seems to be nothing anyone can do, and Miranda is expiring. Cyric asks the guards to fetch Princess Elise so the family can be together.
The king addresses the party while Miranda is quiet. He is briefed about the mission. They discovered the Drow likely originated from the subfloor of Miranda’s Tower. Perhaps Miranda let them in? Or perhaps they had accessed the archway as some sort of portal? It is unclear, but both are theories. Suddenly, Miranda is goes into her final death throes and dies.
The guard clears the room so the King can have a few moments. He asks that Farhan and the party stay. He embraces his daughter for one last kiss. Suddenly, a spirit-like entity emanates from her body. It wraps itself around the King, who goes white, and falls lifeless to the floor. Cyric, who banged his head hard, begins to bleed profusely.
The party is then attacked by the wight. During the fight Gaitus tosses a bomb that goes erroneous and hits the lifeless body of King Cyric, which catches fire. At the sight of this, Farhan faints. The Wight then summons a lesser being from the King’s lifeless body, and attacks. Now they’re fighting what appears to be the spirits of the King AND Princess!
Thankfully, Lusor does some serious damage and both spirits are defeated. Unfortunately, Princess Elise and Master Troubador along with a number of royal guards stream in. Princess (now Queen) Elise places the party under arrest for the crime of regicide. She orders the arrest of Digan of The Black Hand after being told about the bottles Gaitus found.
The party agrees to lay down their arms and surrender in the hopes that their clear innocence would exonerate them. Master Troubador — probably knowing the Queen’s hatred of orcs (and half orcs) and the fact that their are two of them in the party — rescued the party by bewitching the Queen to “protect the Queen” and escort her back to the Castle. The party was then teleported to Master Troubador’s residence.
Troubador explains that the shit is about to hit the windmill. He explains that the kingdom is in grave danger. Cantwy is using Elise — using her hatred of the Orcs of the North to try and start a war with them, so as to weaken the Northern Sanction. This would weaken the Realm of Cain. He is twisting the Dorian religion, bewitching the Council of 5, into starting a crusade on all things magic. In addition, Troubador thinks Cantwy he is making an alliance with the Drow. Rumors persist of the Drow preparing their war against the Duergar.
The Drow, led by Empress Veylastravix (the Dark Star) will wage a fight against the Duergar — the dark dwarves residing in the mountain, with whom they were recent allies.
Evidently the Drow were using the Duergar to reactive The Great Forge — which only dwarven magic can unleash. The Great Forge had been dormant since the Duergar siezed power from the Ull’Thar Clan. If activated, the Great Forge under the mountain would be a big prize for the Drow, and Cantwy. Troubador asks about the archway. He suspects it is a portal and wonders if the perhaps the Drow infiltrators figured out a way to activate it.
Troubador urges Lusor to admit to the party that he is part of a spy network, and he has heard all of these troubling tales. The party doesn’t seem all that surprised. Before long, Troubador tells the party that they must figure out a way through the archway portal. He hands Lusor a magical lute for his adventuring and teleports them back to Miranda’s Tower subfloor.
After some trial and error, the party figures out that their blood is what activates the portal. Each party member has their own “planewalking” experience but end up in the same place — an ethereal plane where odd storms and a deep fog keep them on their toes.
Venturing forward, the party encounters a guardian. Turns out, it’s one of those Dorian Elite Guards of Cantwy that the party attempted to fight in the Dorian Cathedral ambush.
“How did you get here?” asks the Dorian Elite Guard.
“We ask you the same question,” as the party engages the knight in combat.