The flight across the gap was quick. This was good, in that their aerial departure was less than subtle. Yarmilla summoned a pair of giant bats to ferry half the group across, with Hoo and Vecca providing other means of flight for themselves.
The giants and ogres watched our unnamed heroes intently. Hoo’s sharp eyes picked out a foursome of the brutes carrying what looked to be a portable seige engine in their direction. After that, the flight across the gap became something of a race across the gap, ending with the group alighting on what looked to be a squat and tilted tower sunken in a peat-like bog strangely localized on the tower itself.
The top of the tower was covered with debris that nearly covered the only opening from the roof – a ramp that curved down into the darkness. Worse, underneath the debris (and partially blocking the ramp) was the carcass of what could only be described as a wingless dragon – black of scale and with an unhealthy sheen.
The dragon had been recently killed, and bore a multitude of wounds that looked to have been caused by small spears. It also had the telltale signs of being struck by bolts of lightning – given Hoo’s predilection for hurling the same at his foes, everyone in the party had become accustomed to both the sight and the smell.
The group, of course, sidestepped the slowly growing pool of dragon blood and headed downward, lighting torches and using more magical forms of light as well.
The debris on the tower proved indicative of that they found inside – the tower had been ransacked. Or rather, the tower looked ransacked at first glance. A bit of examination showed that the debris filled rooms hadn’t necessarily had their contents removed, but instead purposely broken and discarded. Little of value remained.
However, it quickly became obvious that someone had come through. The group found tracks leading through a door on the far side. and Thoven – on a hunch – stopped the group before opening it. The decision proved intelligent, as the door had been trapped from the other side. Unfortunately, Thoven’s attempts to disarm the trap were unsuccessful, and he narrowly avoided being struck full in the face with a bolt of lightning when he opened the door. Shaken by the strike, Thoven retreated from the opening, allowing the others the luxury of combing through the rest of the rooms as he received some well-timed healing magic from Vecca and Gnogom.
The group continued their descent using a central spiral staircase, looking for either the scepter or the footstool. Instead, they found a room full of mannequins, dressed in ancient finery. Vecca and Yarmilla immediately “went shopping,” procuring sets of clothing as they could while Thoven found – and this time disarmed – another trap identical to the first. Disarming the trap showed that the magic was in actuality a javelin (which Yarmilla identified as a javelin of lightning). This caused some consternation, as our heroes had previous experience with foes who favored the weapon.
Moving further downward, the group was forced out of the stairwell when it abruptly ended in the peat of the bog. With little choice on direction they entered a rather risque “sitting” room, filled with large beds and various accoutrements that brought to mind all manner of debauchery. Anonda, somewhat embarrassed by the spectacle – not the least because of the ribald jokes shared between Yarmilla and Vecca on the matter – moved toward the only unblocked entrance, only to be stopped by Thoven, who once again searched for – and found – another trap.
This trap, however, was obviously magical, and centered on the far side of the door. Thoven, certain that whoever opened the door would take the brunt of whatever ill-magic awaited them, advised fighting magic with magic. In turn, Vecca used her considerable talents to dispel the trap, after which Anonda burst through the opening in order to surprise whoever had done such a dastardly deed.
He was immediately the target of both spell and javelin from a pair of black-robed beings. One was afflicted with a horrible hunchback, while the other gave lie to the image. The hunch was not a deformity, but a rubbery and jointless arms that ended in a six fingered hand, coiled up on the back to hide the extra limb.
Anonda did not know they they were called the Xantli. The others had simply called them “three arms.” But he knew they were dangerous. Knocking aside the javelin heading for him with a flick of his wrist, he rushed forward, tackling the javelineer before it’s whip-like arm could hurl another missile.