Rainsong Alive, Rumbling Rooms, Reset Traps

Resting for the evening in the eerily quiet tomb, Theran awoke first brought Rainsong back from death then and with Doctor Midnightís assistance called upon the spirits who empowered him to remove the curses of gender-change that had altered them. After that had been done, Theran restrained Skippy with his Bands of Bilarro and at the same time, Rainsong and the good Dr. grabbed Silk (AKA the Drís "Little buddy Roundy") and Theran summoned the spirits once again to dispel the evil within them and return them to their good ways. After this ordeal, everyone went through their morning rituals (although no one had a clue to the real time) and it was after this that Reynald declared that he had seen enough, and that it would be more valuable for him to record this information, then to be dead. His logic was that if he was dead, he would not be to record any of this for future scholars and adventurers. Although Reynald did indeed have valuable skills, the ragtag Band of the Wandering Tempest bid him a fond farewell.

Down a long hall they were faced with an iron shod heavy oaken door with no apparent locks, but Skippyís attempts to magically open it failed. On the other side of the door they heard music and cheerful singing. Very odd. Finally Skippy channeled some wild magic into the door and each time everyone blinked the door was either there or it had completely vanished. Although this was unsettling to most, especially Rainsong, everyone finally made it through the door (at least where the door was...?). As they entered the passage the music stopped and they heard footsteps in the distance and saw a torch retreating. Realizing caution might be best considering their situation, they moved slowly down the corridor, Theran and Silk checking for any traps or pits along the way. As they got down about 40 feet, the passage started to tilt, much like a see-saw. Except that it only lead down and into a pool of molten lava. Skippy and Silk quickly took to the air, Skippy levitating and Silk flying. Rainsong bolted back towards the door and kept blinking until it wasnít there and she could leave (bad magic), Dr. Midnight scrambled up the increasingly steep slope and Theran vanished. Once everyone got back into the hall before the door, Theran reappeared. Rainsong then took out the copy of the riddle they first encountered and brought to everyoneís attention that they should be looking for a secret door and questioned whether or not Skippy had any magical tricks up his sleeve to help them find one. Skippy (in his new spiritual mentality) recalled that he did have a spell designed for just this situation.

They finally found a secret door at the bottom of the third pit they had avoided by crossing it via the folding boat. The door lay in the wall of the pit, just above the hideous looking spikes and deadly (having taken two lives) poison. Silk created a wall of ice to make their ascent safe (and fun!). Continuing into the heart of the tomb they came to a passage filled with magical green gas (that looked none to fun to breathe). Roundy, claiming that there were wrong-doers at the end of the hall urged Dr. Midnight forward. He entered the green mists with no ill effect and the rest of the party followed suit. Each member felt a little uneasy after entering the mists, and all seemed well until Silk breathed in the noxious fumes. Silk screamed and bolted out towards the entrance of the tomb. Rainsong, being fast like horse, followed chase. She came upon Silk frantically flying around the room where they had entered the black globe painted on the wall and upon seeing Rainsong Silk vanished. When she described his exit to everyone else, they determined that he had teleported away. They asked Dr. Midnight if he knew where Roundy lived, to which Dr. Midnight responded "In Wormer Manor, with me of course." Asking where that was Dr. Midnight told them it was in Gotham city. A city no one had ever heard of. Realizing that they really had no chance to go to Wormer manor to get Silk back they continued on. In teh gas filled pasage there was a door. Upon opening teh door, the gas dissipated and they saw stairs leading down. At the bottom of these stairs lay a silver mace glowing with a heavebly golden glow. Cautiously they entered the room, finding what may have once been an opulent chamber, now totally ravaged by time. The only items of note were a leather sack, a small coffer and a couch which seemed to be made entirely of gold. Oh yeah, seated upon the couch was an undead with a jeweled crown, glowing gems for eyes, who, as the party entered the room bellowed "Who dares to disturb the rest of Acheronius!?!?" The creature rose from the couch and seemed to be starting a spell.

Dr. Midnight leaped into action striking the creature with his lightning-fast rapiers. Their points struck deep into the creatures body, opening holes in itís wraps and revealing undead flesh beneath. These attacks did not seem to faze the creature who continued to cast. Skippy cast a shatter spell on the skull which caused several large pieces to fly off. While Therna shouted for Dr. Midnight to strike the skull he picked up the glowing mace. Rainsong activated her Amulet of the Sun which caused magical sunlight to stream into the room. Dr. Midnight finally heard Theranís shouting above the voices in his head (which reveled in combat) and struck the skull. He hit several times, each strike causing a pin-sized hole in the skull. Theran finally approach and at this point the skull seemed to be separating from the body, which at this point had been greatly damaged by Dr. Midnights twin rapiers and Skippyís magical missiles. Theran swung the ace, and his hand seemed to be moved with divine intervention. Just as the mace struck the skull, the creature struck Theran. The mace struck with a blinding flash and the skull shattered. Within seconds, the room started to tremble and it looked like the place was going to collapse. Raelizing their purpose for coming here was to find the amulet Theran quickly grabbed the leather bag and coffer and threw them to Rainsong. They retreated as fast as they could (which was as fast as Theran could run). The whole Tomb was collapsing! Skippy called everyone together, at which time Rainsong stated "Rainsong not go ethereal again!" Skippy told her that they werenít going ethereal and just as they teleported out a huge piece of rock dropped to where they had just been. They teleported to where they had left there horses. While heading back towards the closest town they knew of, the town of Muckberg. Early into their journey they recieved a message from silk, who apologized for being so scared, he wasnít quite sure what came over him. He told them he woudl meet them back at the Tomb as soon as possible. Theran responded by telling Silk to meet them in Muckburg, as the tomb had collapsed. Checking through the items they hastilty took they found seven potions with simple labels on them "Healing", a mages scroll with simple spells on it and various monies. But no amulet.

Thinking it might be best to divine information about the amulet they decided to seek out a priest in Muckburg. Silk had arrived before them and was waiting in this godforsaken little rathole. Muckburg lay on the outskirts of the Dire Fens, and as such, was appropriately named. The streets were mud nearly three inches thick, all the houses were built up on stilts. Normally this was no place to settle a town, but due to fact that Muckburgís soil made excellent bricks, several hundred people settled in and exported their bricks across the land. When the rest of Silkís new comrades arrived they inquired about a temple and were directed to an ominous looking black building on the outskirts of town. On approach, they saw several people leaving and Theran reported that he did not have a good feeling about this. Meeting with the head priest, a gaunt man with a blackened and shriveled hand, he informed them that Oeriel was the god of all knowledge and he wodul be more than happy to assist the party, assuming a small donation for his clergy. Theran said theyíd be back, at which point he reported his feelings of great unease to the Band and Skippy volunteered to teleport them to Panderlach. Dr, midnight stated he would love to go "Fight Crime in the Big City" and Theran informed him that Panderlach was a city run by the church of Klaag and as a consequence had very little crime. Dr. Midnightís shoulderís slumped slightly upon hearing this, but he still seemed very excited about going. They waited until the early morning and teleported right outside the Golden Eel. Checking in, they were told by Khale that their rooms were still ready, they being Rainsong and Skippy. Rainsong directed Theran to Nepiolís old room and Dr. Midnight to Aerikís room. Khale also told them that almost a month had gone by since they left and that he was only paid up through a month.

After a good nights sleep, each in their own bed, Theran and Rainsong headed over to the temple of Klaag and met with one of the acolytes who told them to come back later to speak with the High Sentry of the Temple, and that he should be able to help them with their divinations. What they got from teh High-Sentryís commune with Klaag was that Acheronius was still active and that the amulet was probably within the Tomb (it seemed to have strong anti-divination magics on it) and they got a cryptic riddle as to how to find the demi-lichís resting place within the Tomb.

Returning with this information, they quickly stocked up on whatever goods they needed, Reynald stopped by to inform them that with what he had learned thus far and previous research, Acheronius had a twisted sense of humor and designed to Tomb to be self-inclusive. Everything they needed to get through to the "final" room should be contained within the Tomb. Seems Acheronius really enjoyed the process of watching people die, unable to figure out the elaborate traps he had designed. Slightly distraught at this fact, they continued reparations and when ready teleported to just outside the city gates. Once again they found entry easy, and were able to bypass the traps and get back to where they believed the first of seven secret doors outlined in the riddle was. The Tomb had indeed not collapsed and all the traps were once again reset.

With Skippyís spells they finally found a secret door and moved further into the tomb. The next room they came to was at one time a lab of some sort, but it lay in much disrepair. There were old and broken jars of various herbs and liquids, but most notable were the three cauldrons in the center of the room. Silk examined each and found one was filled with what seemed to be dirty water, the second with some sort of acid (he knew it was acidic when he dropped a continual light stone onto to se to the murky bottom and the gem quickly disintegrated, and upon examining the third was startled when a the contents leaped out of the cauldron at him. Skippy, who had been looking for some good herbs to smoke unleashed a bolt of force at the grey ooze which split it into three separate beings. They made quick work of it, the only damage was done to Silkís face when the creature had latched onto him and was able to be killed and removed only by Skippy casting several magic missiles at it. In the bottom of the cauldron was half of a key and Silk guessed that the second half was the glittering object he had seen in the second cauldron. Theran found a small vial with a handle and started to transfer the contents to the other cauldron, and when a bit splashed on him, he realized that the damage it caused with not that severe. Theran also realized that his arms were too short to reach into the pit, neither Skippy nor Silk nor Rainsong wanted to put their arms into the acid, so Dr. Midnight stepped forward in a superheroic way. Not wanting to damage his clothes he took his shirt off. Rainsong gasped at the sight of his well-muscled physique. She seemed to be somewhat smitten. Certainly the fact that he was not a user of bad magic helped his case, and as well all know folks in extreme circumstances often become very emotional and involved (it is thought that Rainsong actually had a small crush on Grunther, but weíll never know. She still speaks sadly of his passing). Everyone else also noted several numbers branded on his arm. Peculiar. Dr. Midnight stuck his well-muscled arm into the vat and after floundering about for a bit declared "Ah hah, I have it!" and pulled up the second half of the key. Rainsong quickly ran over and helped him dry and off and put his shirt back on. Dr. Midnight actually winked at her.

Continuing down the hall they came upon a very large pit that took up the whole hallway. Skippy used the wand they had been given by Sather and pointed out that the last three feet of the pit was trapped. Discussing their options for getting across, it was decided that Dr. Midnight and Rainsong woudl leap over (Dr. Midnight had a magic ring of jumping, while Rainsong was a skilled jumper without magical means), Silk would climb the walls across and Skippy would cast a spell of flying on himself and Theran. Skippy cast the spellon Theran and declared that there had been some sort of wild surge, but was unsure what happened with it. Everyone felt an uneasy feeling with the surge, but nothing else noticeable happened. Theran, being a dwarf, was not used to not being in touch with the earth and flapped his arms and moved his feet as he made his way across. Everyone got quite a chuckle out of the sight. Was that a look of fear in his eyes?

They came upon another room, this one seemed to be some sort of rumpus room at some point. Feeling wary, they checked for traps and found the whole floor was a trap. Silk assumed wraithform and investigated the numerous coffers and chests. More than half contained snakes (at least it wasnít bees, Silk thought) and the rest contained platinum and gems. The also discovered another secret door that they continued through. The passage winded around and down ad they were expecting the juggernaut mentioned in Desatyssoís journal, even though they seeming had missed the green slime. Alas no such juggernaut came. They found one more secret door and have decided to rest for a while before continuing. Skippy wasnít used to expending all his spell energy so quickly, and in such a non-dramatic fashion. Frequent rest was needed. Then again, they didnít fear for any wandering-type monsters, so resting never really seemed like a bad idea. It has been well over a month since the Band was first contacted about the disturbances in the area. Attempting to get through this infernal Tomb alive was quite time consuming.

Tombstones, Tacky Clothes and The City that Waits

Sometime in the course of the evening Silk stole off, perhaps the rogue in him was drawn to the promise of treasure. Although Dr. Midnight was upset at the loss of Roundy, the rest of the Band convinced him that most likely Silk was lost to the Tombís evil machinations. Faced with the choice of going through a secret door and continuing on down the hall, Rainsong vehemently argued that they still had four secret doors to travel through and they should move in that direction. It was obvious that she was getting tired of wandering aimlessly through the tomb and wanted this nightmare to end. It definitely seemed this was the right choice as this hallway led through several more secret doors and after going through a mithril door that three bladed weapons were needed to open they came upon the room of pillars mentioned in the riddle given them by the High Priest of Yahr. Surely they were close now. The room of pillars was massive and with each pillar being almost 3 feet wide it was difficult to see very far. Realizing that it might be best to avoid the floor, Skippy cast a fly spell on everyone and the proceeded to fly across the threshold. They were not prepared for the dispelling screen that not only dropped them skidding across the floor, but extinguished their continual light gems. Rainsong and Skippy slid into one of the pillars and both started floating towards the ceiling. Since no one could see anything, all Theran heard was Rainsong talking about bad Magic. Dr. Midnight used the darkness to turn into a bat and fly up towards the ceiling where he proceeded to hang upside down.

Theran realized that Rainsong was moving up and away judging by the sound of her voice. He quickly grabbed a rope from his pack and threw it towards where he thought Rainsong was. The rope dropped to the floor and he tried again. Her voice was getting farther away and he cautiously moved closer as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. As he threw his rope up one last time he heard Rainsong scream, and then suddenly cut out. Theran finally got a torch lit and looked up towards the ceiling and saw nothing of Rainsong, but there was another of the green mouthís He feared that she was lost. Dr. Midnight spied Skippy floating towards another one of the green mouths. He didnít notice much in the way of panic on Skippyís face ("Must be all that wacky weed" Dr. Midnight thought) and he watched as Skippy was sucked in through the blackness of the green mouth. Dr. Midnight put one and one together and realized that he was alone with Theran now, and just then the door slammed shut, there was no mechanism located inside the room to open it. He and Theran then moved about the room seeing what was located in this vast room of pillars. They found 3 doors on the same wall as the green mouths and a throne upon which rested a crown and scepter. They also came across an eerie glowing gem around which was scattered bones, clothes and other adventuring gear, apparently individuals that approached the gem were blown apart. Theran and Dr. Midnight stayed away from the gem.

Rainsong found herself in the entry hall, stripped of all clothes and personal belongings. She was determined to not let the tomb beat her so she moved back towards the room of pillars. The going was slow in the dark and luckily she remembered where the traps were. Remembering the candelabras in the temple she found a striker and lit one. She made her way to the great mithril door only to find it closed. She pounded and yelled, but to no avail, obviously itís thickness (about a foot thick) didnít allow sound to pass through. Realizing that she would need three edged weapons she backtracked to the rooms and passages they hadnít entered, as she could not recall anything useful in the rooms she had already been in. Coming to the first door she opened it and fell asleep breathing in the gas contained within the room. This would be her last sleep, as the juggernaut she feared rolled over her in her slumber.

Meanwhile Skippy was transported to a blank room. A thunderous voice boomed out a warning" Stay in this and starve to death or move through that door and die quickly." Never one to back down from a challenge, rather more appropriately, being Skippy, he immediately walked towards the door, wherein he was immediately assaulted by 18 animated swords. He did the best he could with his magic and actually dropped 8 of them, but the blindingly fast flurry of steel was too much and he died, not 10 feet from Dr. Midnight and Theran who lay just on the other side of the door in the room of pillars.

Theran and Dr. Midnight decided to investigate the rooms at the one end and entering the first they found a corpse wrapped in cloth with the skull partially exposed. In the eyesocket of the skull lay a beautiful gem. Perhaps curiosity got the best of these two cats, but upon touching the gem, the mummy animated and Dr. Midnight bolted from the room, fleeing due to magical fear (or so he would have anyone believe). Theran lifted his great maul and engaged this unholy monster. Reaching towards Theran it cast a spell and Theran felt like he had been in the desert for weeks without water. He finally smited the creature and found Dr. Midnight cowering in a corner, tears streaming from his eyes. Tears of fear. It was not the first time the good Dr. had been reduced to a quivering mound. Finally calming him down they moved on to the next room and found a bloody mass of goo with remains of equipment easily identified as having been Skippyís. Eventually they made their way to the great obsidian throne. Dr. Midnight took out his whip and pulled off the crown and scepter and flung them towards Theran who easily caught them. Examining the scepter they noticed it had one gold and one silver end. He touched the scepter to the crown and was instantly turned to dust. Dr. Midnight was all alone. The voices in his head were almost deafening. Examining the scepter and crown he remembered Rainsongís persistent reminder that they were looking for a key of silver on silver. Examining the throne Dr. Midnight saw a silver crown inlay and closing his eyes he touched the silver end of the scepter to the crown inlay. He opened his eyes to gleefully discover that he was alive and saw the wall behind the throne sliding downward. Dr. Midnight continued onward "For Justice!" he yelled out to no one. Most likely just so he could drown out the silence. There steps beyond the wall, rainbow colored each made of a different stone. On the third step up lay a gold key. Dr. Midnight took out his trusty whip and again used it to grab the item without touching it. He summoned up the courage (itís hard to be superheroic without someone present to notice your super-coolness) and moved up the steps. At the top was huge door with a keyhole. Problem was the keyhole looked able to fit either end of the scepter or either of the two keys they had found. Dr .Midnight tried two combinations which both gave him an electrical shock. He then inserted the gold end of the scepter into the door and was instantly transported to the entry hallway, buck-naked and without any equipment, not even his mask. It was chilly. Not remembering exactly where the trap doors were located he stood for awhile scratching his head when he saw people approaching. He looked for a place to hide, but finally turned his back to the Tombís entrance and awaited his fate.

He heard a woman giggle softly. "Would you like something to cover up?" she asked. "What are you doing, it could be a ruse?" he heard a manís voice. "Donít be silly, the Tomb holds no living dangers, and I donít really see a naked man as much of a threat. Come on Tasgi get out a cloak or something he looks... cold." She giggled again. Dr. Midnight blurted out "Traps." The two newcomers to the Tomb finally made their way to the back of the Tomb by flying and handed Dr. Midnight a cloak which Dr. Midnight quickly ripped and tied a small piece over his eyes. "I am Dr. midnight" he quietly introduced himself. "Do you have any rapiers." The two elves shook their heads and the male, who had red-tinted skin and a shock of red down the middle of his black hair pulled forth a camp-knife from his pack. Dr. Midnight swung it around with a defeated look. "Are you here for Justice?" he asked. "Yeah, sure." The woman responded. "Follow me." Dr. Midnight directed them into the portal after deactivating itís killing mists. They made their way through the tomb with ease, Dr. Midnight remembering where all the traps were and what doors and passages they needed to journey through. Dr Midnight was very quiet, decked out in a loin-cloth, a cloak and armed with a simple knife. He briefly gave them a rundown of what had happened to him and his friends, mentioning nothing of an individual named Roundy. The two newcomers were named Moritasgus, called Tasgi by the elf-maiden, Tariel. These two had journey from Qush to investigate the great uprising of evil emanating from the Dire Fen. Originally their group numbered 6, but their comrades perished along the way. Dr. Midnight was very quiet. When they came to the key-hole hat had taken away Dr. Midnightís clothes and items he shook his head as they were about to try all the combinations but the last one. Trying this last key the great door opened and revealed a large room with four horrific statues, a large stoppered urn, and a casket. Tasgi cast a spell searching for secret doors, (they went through 5 and needed to go through 7 Dr. Midnight quietly told them). Figuring this casket was another diversion, they found a secret door located beneath one of the giant statues. Tasgi disintegrated the metal behemoth and they ventured below. With his spell still active Tasgi immediately found another secret door. Everyone took in a deep breath and they opened it. Inside they found a black room with a circular indentation in the floor examination revealed another keyhole. Taking out the silver key that Dr. Midnight had retrieved from the laboratory he turned it in the keyhole. A jolt of electricity rocked his body. Tariel briefly communed with her goddess to ask the best way to open this and she told Dr. Midnight to turn the key three times to the left. In doing so the whole room began shaking and the ceiling was getting closer, or wait, the room itself was rising. Everyone quickly jumped back and watched as a hidden room was revealed. The room was generously littered with treasure, Dr.Midnight immediately recognized his own clothes and equipment and rushed over to them and quickly dressed himself and pulled out his rapiers. He also noticed the belongings of Rainsong and swore vengeance on Acheronius for killing her. After he finished changing, he was a new man. He leaped around the room, swinging his rapiers yelling "Justice!" and "Iím the one they call Dr. Midnight, Iím the one they call to crime-fight!" Tasgi and Tariel found this alternately funny and frightening.

Dr. Midnightís shenanigans were not distracting enough to allow the two of them to take their eyes off the skull lying on a black table at the end of the room. The skull had gems for eyes and teeth and a large pile of dust lay next to it. This sight coupled with the unnatural feeling of fear they each felt made them realize that they indeed looked upon Acheronius. Cautiously looking around the rest of the room the saw the gigantic treasure pile, and they found The Amulet with a piece of paper under it off to one side. Tasgi very cautiously approached and picked up the amulet and paper. The paper was written by Desatysso and explained that he was heading towards the City That Waits and briefly described the horrors he had faced in the tomb. Realizing the Amulet was the main thing they came for they began to depart. Tasgi reached towards the treasure pile and picked up a handful of gems and platinum. Just then the skull started to vibrate. Tasgi quickly dropped the treasure and with a look of abject horror on his face teleported them outside the city. While Tasgi and Tariel examined the runes on the amulet and the notebook of Desatysso that Dr. Midnight had been sure to grab from Rainsongís belongings a bald vampire formed from teh mist covering the ground of the swamp. With the sun being high in teh sky, this certainly bothered everyone involved. Dr. Midnight leaped into action with acry of "Justice!", viciously attacking the foul beast with his twin rapiers. Just as he plunged his rapier into the beastís black heart they heard a female voice behind them: "Hand over the amulet and I will let you live." They slowly turned to see a woman with ivory skin floating above the ground. Dr. Midnight rushed at her and in his haste for justice lost hold of one of his rapiers. The woman raised her hand and a rainbow of energy streamed from her fingers. One beam struck Tariel who turned to stone and one struck Tasgi whose eyes glazed over in the look of death for a moment. Dr. midnight moved towards his rapier as Tasgi shouted for him to hold onto him. Tasgi grabbed hold of the statue of his traveling companion and Dr. midnight grabbed Tasgi and tried to drag all three of towards his rapier and just as Tasgi finished casting his spell a bolt of white energy shot forth from the womanís fingers. The bolt ripped Tasgi apart, but the three of them teleported... to safety?

Dr. Midnight appeared on a dock with the statue of Tariel and a smoldering mass that was once Tasgi. He looked out at a great ocean teaming with all manner of ships and boats. He heard a voice behind him" Hey you!" He spun dramatically raising his remaining rapier into the air ad responded with "Yes." "Did you just teleport here." Dr. Midnight looked around, a bit confused and responded, less emphatically this time "Yes". Well donít you know that teleporting into the city is forbidden under the order of the High Mook?" "Umm, no." Dr, Midnight meekly responded. "Well, the High Mook will certainly want to see this." The man, who it seemed was a city guardsman approached with several others. They asked Dr. Midnight to lay down his weapons. Dr Midnight looked at them defiantly "But... justice!... Donít you have law-breakers in this city." The guards responded with a definitive no. "Very well then I will lay down my arms, but if anyone does break the law, please allow Dr. Midnight to thwart them." The guards nodded in response to this. "Is this yours" one of them asked referring to the statue of Taril. "Yes, that is my companion and that" he pointed at the pile that was Tasgi "is my other companion." The guards shackled Dr. Midnight and finally a wagon arrived and they loaded up the statue and carefully scooped up the remains of Tasgi.

After a short time in a holding cell, Dr. Midnight was taken before the High Mook, and his council. With blu-black skin, decked out in fringe white leather draped over the pillows that spread over the floor and with several women attended to him on either side. Dr. Midnight introduced himself and one of the High Mookís counselorís whispered to him who he was. The mood definitely relaxed. Dr. midnight explained who he was and what he was doing in Qush and what had happened to his new companions. Hearing that Dr. midnight had been in Acheroniusí Tomb, the High Mook shuddered when he heard this. Dr. midnight asked if there was any crime in Qush, seems he had an aching to go crime-busting. The High Mook calmed him down and said that Qush was a running just fine without the assistance of the more-than capable Dr. Midnight. The High Mook called for assistance and Tasqi was brought back to life and Tariel was turned back to flesh. That evening they had a great feast and throughout the evening the High Mook was quite amused by Dr. Midnightís tales. He definitely seemed to have taken a liking to the singularly stylish Dr. Midnight. After dinner Tasgi and Tariel began studying the amulet trying to decipher itís riddle. Dr. Midnight stayed up late with the High Mook and his lady-friends. In teh morning Dr. Midnight found several suits of clothing taht had been ordered for him by the High Mook. Over breakfast Tasgi and tariel informed teh Dr. that tehy had not yet figured out the runes on the amulet, so the High Mook took this as an invitation to have more clothes made for Dr. Midnight. The tailors were exceptional and fast. At lunch, the High Mook was actually attired in an outfit very similar to Dr. Midnightís ensemble "For Justice!" he proclaimed. Over lunch Tasgi and Tariel pulled Dr. Midnight aside and told him tehy figured out the runes and they must return to the Tomb as soon as possible. Dr. Midnight agreed, even though he was enjoying himself with the High Mook, he must return to the Tomb "For Justice!" The High Mook offered each of them warm winter clothes and bid them farewell.

They teleported to the City gates outside the Tomb and once again made their way through the city of undead. Their goal was to get some of the dust of Acheronius, as this was the necessary key to allow them passage to the enigmatic City that Waits. Once again all the traps in the Tomb had been reset, but they made their way through without any difficulty. Remembering that the door to the room of pillars closed after a short time Tariel waited at the door while Dr. Midnight and Tasgi went to recover demi-lich dust. Returning to the entry hallway they heard a familiar voice and turned to see not only Lady Ferranifir but two vampire escorts as well. "Hand over the amulet and you will not die so painfully." The two other vampires closed to attack. Dr. Midnight, always one for a challenge stepped forward while Tariel readied her flail and Tasgi began casting a spell. Ferranifir had the jump on them and unleashed a concussive blast at Tasgi. The blast shot him through the green mouth; he happened to be the one holding the dust and with a cut-off scream vanished. He did however drop the amulet. The two vampires closed with Dr. midnight and Ferranifir vanished (so did the amulet). After taking many hits from these undead beasts and considerably weakened Tariel and Dr. Midnight did defeat them. But both the amulet and the dust of Acheronius were gone. Shrugging their shoulders they headed back into the Tomb once again and retrieved more dust. Making sure to dust themselves generously with this despicable dust (think about it, they are sprinkling themselves with the dust of one of the most powerful and evil creatures known, the dust itself is at least 1,000 years old. Yuck! It makes a trip to my basement seem like a day at the park.) Crossing their fingers, they stepped through the portal and found themselves instantly transported to somewhere else. A sign immediately facing them told them they were in the city that was once Moil, the City that Waits. Yet another riddle by Acheronius challenged them. The sky was filled with electrical energy. They stood on a 10 bridge spanned between three pillar-like buildings with many more in the distance. Most disturbing was teh fact that there was no sign of Tasgi anywhere. Had he made it through. They looked towards each of the buildings, each over 500 feet away and barely visible under the black sky, illuminated by the frequent flashes of lightning. At the building to their left they saw a light emanating and not seeing any other clues, they headed in that direction. As they got closer they saw that teh light was from a dagger of Tasgiís. How did they know this? Because Tasgi lay sleeping beside it. They tried to rouse him with no success, so Dr. Midnight slung him over his shoulder. They made their way into teh building looking for any place that might have more warmth. They finally holed up in a room practically filled with ice, apparently thinking the ice might provide some insulation. Tariel told Dr. Midnight that she needed to sleep in order to gain more spells, Dr. Midnight swore he would stay up to protect her and Roundy while they slept. Tariel was unsure why Dr. Midnight called Tasgi Roundy. They all cuddled together to keep warm and Tariel closed her eyes hoping to get some sleep and not wake up so cold.

Cold, so very cold, Games of Chance, Choosing a Champion

Tariel woke up to DR. Midnight gently massaging her shoulders (though not as well as Tasgi had massaged her in the past). It was still frightfully cold. Dr. midnight warmed up some rations with the heat of his hands while she prayed to Ursolas. After praying she ate some of the barely-unfrozen jerky and attempted to remove the curse that afflicted Tasgi. He awoke with a gentle yawn. Unaware as to how long he had been awake, he quickly took stock of their situation and took out his spellbook, realizing that they shouldnít tarry too long in this dreadful city. While Tasgi practiced his spells, Tariel and Dr. Midnight heard the sound of scuffling come from out in the hall. Realizing they might already have been given away from their glowing dagger, Dr. Midnight readied his rapier and stood guard while Tariel stood on the other side of the door. As the footsteps approached, Dr. Midnight leapt into the hallway with all the flourish one would expect and announced his presence" Greetings, are thou friend or foe, Dr. Midnight wants to know.) Tariel peeked out from behind the door. The individual in the hallway shivered, his teeth chattered as he responded "Not the Dr. Midnight?" "One and the same." He responded flashing his most heroic smile, cleft chin sticking out proudly. "Are you a villain or criminal, one who works against justice?" The Dr. asked. "No, I can work for justice, the stranger replied." With that the stranger quickly shook off the cold and withdrew an ivory-handled katana and began to give a quick display of his martial prowess. Dr. Midnight seemed quite impressed, while Tariel muttered something about boys being boys. Dr Midnight poceeded to give a demonstration of his own, which although not as impressive, was still quite competent. The stranger quickly pulled his thin woolen cloak over his body and wrapped the blanket he was carrying around himself. "Do you have a fire, Iím very cold." Spying Tariel he asked "Who are you fair maiden. Tariel giggled "tariel, and my friend Tasgi is busy studying his spells in here. We donít have a fire, but I was about to call from my god warmth for all of us, and I could include you as well. "That would be great." With that the stranger entered teh room and took a quick drink from a flask of whiskey he took out of his pack. Ofering it to Tariel and Dr. Midnight, both of whom declined, he offered to take their drinks for them and slugged down two more gulps.

They all finally introduced themselves and although the newcomer, Keldrake Windwalker, was not expressly here to thwart Acheronius, he would consider it, if it would get him home. He had never even heard of the great demi-lich, but after they briefed him shuttered, and it wasnít from the cold. Having read the riddle at the entry way also, he knew that there were three puzzles to be solved and a key to be found. Even though Tarielís spell kept them warm, as if they were outside on a fall day, they all knew it was much colder and the cold froze the mucous in their noses and steamed their breath. They finished examining the tower in which they were, finding a strange stand upon which was held a wand. Keldrake carefully tied a string around the wand and pulled it free. Several rooms later they found 7 panels each depicting the sun at various stages in the sky over various landscapes. Deciphering the ancient runes, they found the simple statement "Manifest the Power of the Wand of Days." This coupled with the statement they had found in the room with the wand "The choice of Days empowers the wand." They decided that the panels before them must have something to do with the wand. They continued searching the tower and entering a room with many broken statue pieces (oddly, most of the rooms were impeccably clean, empty of anything) a zombie-like creature rose to attack. Finding combat with the creature deadly, not only because of itís vicious claw attacks, but because of some sort of life-draining effect being near it seemed to have, every time they dropped it into a state of seeming final death, it kept rising, Tasgi finally disintegrated it with a spell. Searching the rest of the tower and finding little of import they decided to move on. Tasgi informed them that he had been to the Tower across the way and found several seemingly magic portals and a bridge to another tower. They moved instead to the Tower they had all faced when they entered the city.

Searching this tower, it seemed like it must have once been a gaming hall. First they came across a pillar of ice which encased a skeleton. As Keldrake moved near the pillar the skeleton spoke, asking if they wanted to feel his cold embrace. The creature then burst forth from the ice with the terrifying sound of ice cracking and moved to attack. The creature was a skeleton encased in an armor of ice, itís head glowed with a black flame, and although Dr. Midnight and Keldrake were harming it, they tow were taking some significant damage, each having been lit aflame with the black-fire. The fire burned cold, sucking life energy from them. Seeing that they might need some help, Tariel stepped into the room and, calling forth the goddess Ursolas and holding her holy symbol high, banished the creature. The undead shuddered at the sight of the symbol and fled to a corner. Keldrake and Dr. Midnight both let out audible disappointed sighs. Continuing to search teh tower they came to several long rooms, one of which contained a wooden table and several high-backed chairs as well as a large stone chair against the back wall. Scouting out the room, Kldrake looked around, and up. Everyone watched horrified as he was sucked into the mirror on the ceiling. Not quite sure what had happened or what to do, Tariel consulted her goddess and asked if Keldrake could be freed if they broke they mirror. Getting affirmation of this idea, Dr. Midnight threw a piece of timber from the central chamber into the magical piece of silvered glass. Dropping to the ground was not only Keldrake, but a young woman and two grey bodies. The woman started yelling a foreign tongue which prompted Tasgi to cast a spell allowing everyone to speak the same language, to anyone hearing them speak it would sound like gibberish. Dr. Midnight did not like what he heard, as the young woman was doing nothing but curse. As she and Keldrake pulled themselves up, one of the bodies rose awaking into an undead state of being. The young woman ran from the room into the hall joining Tariel and Tasgi, Dr. midnight entered the room with a cry of justice. He and Keldrake easily dropped the beast, but as tehy turned to walk out, it started to rise again. Thie continued for some time, with Dr. midnight at one point actually dragging the body from the room towards his companions who ran down the hall. Through a doorway, Keldrake lobbed a flask of oil at the creature who was once again standing, Tasgi actually finally disintegrated the once-human monster. They gathered up some of the timber and started a small fire to warm their new companion who went by the name of Lerxst. They did their best to warm her up, as she certainly was not dressed for the weather in a short sleeve tunic. Keldrake and Dr. Midnight continued searching and found an old barroom and actually found three bottles of wine that were undamaged along with a bottle of abisinthe and a peculiar note carved into one of the tabletops "Desatysso was here." They brought the wine out to Tasgi, Tariel and Lerxst. Tasgi determined that the wine was still good and he and Tariel split a bottle while Keldrake drank one by himself and stored the other away carefully in his pack. Everyone enjoyed the surprisingly delicious soup Tasgi had made over the fire, somehow heíd found the ingredients for soemthing not only good for adventuring fare but for soemthing that would make most kings ask for seconds. Realizing they had only door left to open, the one the once-vanquished undead guarded they returned to where the creature was feeling aggressive again. Tariel offered to turn the creature away again, but Dr. Midnight and Keldrake relished the opportunity to draw their weapons too much and attacked the monster. After having dropped it and having had other troubles with the undead continually rising up to attack again, they threw it out the window.

Upstairs, they continued to explore, finding an interesting glowing cabinet, they looked to investigate it. The windows on the cabinet had been frosted over and when they took a torch to the ice, suddenly all the lights went out, including the glow emanating from the cabinet. Everyone felt a very strong uneasy magical feeling pass over them. When they finally relit the torch, everyone was surprised to see Dr. Midnight approach from down the hall, not inside the room where they had all been. With the torch relit, they found the cabinet to still be locked. Once again they tried to open it, and again all the lights went out and the magic feeling creeped over all of them. They tried this several more times, but each time the results were the same. On the last attempt however, they heard Lerxst scream from outside the window and looked out to see her falling into the abyssal blackness below the City. "Thatís what happened to me" Dr. Midnight finally offered up. Realizing now that they were dealing with something they should probably leave alone, they moved on. They came to a room with several still intact cloaks, and Tasgi tried on the very warm looking white fur one. He then claimed to be very tired and sat down. He searched through his pack and threw out all "This extra heavy stuff" including his spellbook and wand. When asked how many toes he had, he proceeded to take off his shoes and started to count them, Started is the correct term, he was not able to get past 3. Tariel approached him and asked her god for help in removed the curse that seemed to be afflicting him. Sure enough, his eyes took on the bright look they all knew so well and he stood up and asked about his spellbooks and wand as he had lost all memory of his spells. Keldrake had safely stored them, fearing the wild-mage might do something foolish in his state of not quite being himself. Tasgi immediately went to the window and threw the cloak out. Then he realized that he still had his shoes off and quickly pulled his socks and boots back on. Keldrake meanwhile did not succumb to the very tempting roulette wheel they had encountered, Dr. Midnight also chose not to play "Justice is no gamble." and Tariel said she didnít like the look of the thing. Tasgi seemed to have had enough gambling for the day and found Keldrake who was sitting in the hall finishing up the second bottle of wine.

Although he had drunk two bottles by himself, Keldrake showed no ill affects from the wine. Yes, his cheeks were quite rosy and he had a large smile on his face, but other than that he seemed okay. Although Tasgi had lost all his spells, he knew that he had a chance to channel the power of his wand to cast his spells for him. He couldnít rightly sleep to memorize them again, they had only been up for about four or five hours. So they all agreed to continue into the next tower. Decorating the keystone at the entrance to the next tower were symbols of warfare and as they entered, a distorted death march wailed throughout the tower. Moving inward they found human heads mounted for grisly decoration on the wall. They also came across a hand with a plaque beneath it. Tasgi drew forth his wand, which caused Keldrake to run around the corner of the hall, fearing the wild magic contained within. Tasgi attempted to channle his spells through the wand and instead of being able to read the ancient runes, felt a slight itching on his chest. Pulling his shirt open, he found the source of the itching, he had gained a third nipple. He tried once more and this time, the wild magic surged into his left hand. Looking at his hand, he noticed that he was now missing a finger. Deciding that perhaps Biakh was not withhim today, he put his wand away. It was then that the hand started moving. Kledrake, peeking around the corner was intrigued by this and placed a dagger in the hand. The hand moved it around as best as it could, given itís limited mobility. Keldrake actually parried with the hand, and attempting to disarm the bodiless hand, found the handís great strength actually disarmed him. They saw this as a bad sign and moved on. They found one floor in an inner hallway and entered. Looking into the next room saw a forest of 20 foot high iron pillars placed in a random pattern. Dr. Midnight and Keldrake entered the room and immediately the pillars began falling. Each deftly dodged the massive pieces of metal that were falling all around them. The further they entered into the room, the more the pillars fell, making the dodging more difficult. Tariel and Tasgi, realizing that their best chance may have passed them by reluctantly entered as well, and luckily Tasgiís protective spell he had cast earlier in the day protected them from the several crushing blows delivered by the dropping pillars.

The next room was empty save for a gleaming silver metal door whose handle was lodged in ice. Chipping it away, Keldrake strained and lifted the door, seeing no handle on the other side, he asked Dr. Midnight to hold the masive door open while he quickly grabbed a piece of one of the pillars and placed it on the ground, sop the door could not close all the way and trap them. The next room was filled with a multitude of many hued bells hanging from the ceiling. Picking up a small pebble and throwing it at one of them, they each heard a beautiful sound as the perfectly pitched bell rang out ever so softly. Seeing the door oppposite the one they now stood they all entered the room together, and at once all the bells began ringing terribly loudly. Each bell was perfectly pitched, but with over 100 of them ringing at one, the sound was maddening. Dr. Midnight fell first, grabbing his ears and screaming, Tariel and Tasgi also fell, screaming in pain and writhing on the ground, Keldrake made it through the room, though slightly disoriented. Looking back he saw his companions lying on the ground, blood starting to trickle out their ears. He ran back into the room and picked up the massive Dr. Midnight and pulled Tariel and Tasgi and slowly, painfully made his way to the exit. For over ten minutes, the three who had fallen lay screaming in pain, clutching their ears, unable to hear anything. Finally, their hearing was restored and they looked about the room. Teir was a sealed iron door leaving the room inlaid with a golden plaque in which were five gems, flashing in a random pattern. Studying the gems for several minutes, they figured out that the pattern went on for 30 seconds and stopped for 30 seconds. The gems themselves appeared to be depressable. Tasgi studied it for some time and finally after one of the sequences ended began to quickly depress the gems. Keldrake, who had been attempting to follow the pattern as well, yelled out when he thought Tasgi made a mistake. Tasgi simply grunted in his direction and continued pressing. As he depressed the last one and stood back, the door opened, revealing a spiral staircase leading up. However, the silent sounds of unseen machinery was heard and as they watched razor thin blades flew up and down from the walls leading up the stairs. Studying the pattern, it looked like it could be passed, but just because those blades looked so deadly, Keldrake took out his hand axe and positioned the handle in the blades path. The blade came sharply and quickly down on the handle and cleanly severed it. The slits in the walls where the blades originated were too thin to allow anything other than a piece of paper within. Keldrake stepped forward first, quickly climbing several steps at a time, watching the bladeís patterns ahead of him and trying to remember the rhythm with which they swung. All watched breathlessly as he made his way up the stairs, narrowly avoiding several of the bladeís silent strikes. Tariel stepped forward next and several blades struck her, luckily tasgiís protective magics did not allow the razor-sharp blades to pierce her skin. Dr. midnight declared to Tasgi that he should go next, because Dr. Midnight should stay down here in case someone tries to ambush them from behind. Tasgi though Dr. Midnight was full of crap and just really scared. Tasgi stepped forward anyway and made the ascent, no harm coming to him. With a barely noticeable look on his face, the good Dr. stepped into the path of the blades and quickly climbed up, thankful that Tasgi had graced him with protective magics as several blades struck him as well. They now all stood 20 feet from the top of the stairs and continued their ascent together.

Entering into a large indoor battle traing ground, the walls of which were adorned with all types of weaposn and many more lay on the ground, some broken, some rusted, and as they looked around, a man with skin the color of death stepped from the center room which was emanating a purple glow. The man was armed witha great two handed sword and strode to within 30 feet of the band and declared to them to select a champion to fight him, and if he is defeated they may pass, and if he is victorious, they must leave never to return. Dr. Midnight had such a pained look on his face, here was his chance for justice, but he was so weak from the assault of the vampire and the other undead minions they had fought. He desperately wanted to step forward to answer this challenge, but realized that Keldrake might be their best choice. Keldrake reluctantly stepped forward. The man, or at least what was once a man, stood before them, unmoving, both hands on his wicked looking sword, Keldrake drew his katant and approached, waiting for the man, hoping to study his movements to gain an advantage. The man just stood, unblinking, eyes never moving from his challenger. Keldrake rocked on his feet, waiting, feigning to make a move several times, but the man did not flinch, thsi standoff continued for several minutes, until finally Keldrake charged the man. The man quickly pulled his sword in front of him, an evil red glow trailed the weapon as he swung it, he held his sword to parry Keldrakeís strikes, his eyes watching his opponent, and immediately Keldrake knew he had lost the first battle, the battle of nerves. The man, who called himself the Lord High Exultant, studied Keldrakeís attack and finally made an attack of his own. He swung the huge sword with easy grace and his blows not only struck deep, but the wounds bled profusley. From eth undead championís hand, he unleashed a blast of cold, and the black-fire that surrounded him jumped to Keldrake. Keldrake felt itís effects trying to suck away his life energy, but he risisted. The fight lasted several minutes, each matching eth other blow for blow, until Keldrake took one misstep allowing the Lord High Exultant the oppurtunity to deliver a devastating strike to his chest. He clutched at his chest in pain, dropping first to his knees and then to the ground. The blood poured out of him and Tariel ran to his aid, hoping that all was not lost. She slowly turned him over, the blackfire jumped from him to her and never before having seen such wounds quickly called forth the power of her goddess to heal him. Immediately, the wounds closed and Keldrake regained life and consciousness. The man simply walked back in the central room from where he had first entered the main chamber, and Dr. Midnight and Tasgi saw him sit down cross-legged on a simple reed mat, placing the blood covered blade before him. Keldrake thanked Tariel and slowly drew himself up. They walked around the main chamber and saw one exit. The man on the mat, sat perfectly still, the purple of the room more powerful around him, his eyes were open, but he appeared to be looking past everything. Thinking that they should not try their luck attempting to leave via the exit, and thinking it was probably in their best interest not to try and descend to the lower floor again, they talked about setting up camp right outside this great warriorís chamber. Keldrake stepped into the purple glow and immediately felt a very uneasy feeling settle over his entire body, a felling of pain, a feeling of fear. Watching the man on the mat, everyone watched as Keldrakeís knees buckled and a golden light exited his bod. He quickly stepped back into the main chamber, some of the color having been drained from his face. They retreated to the back of the round room and whispered possible plans amongst themselves. Tariel volunteered that perhaps she could seek guidance from her goddess, but she would need to know guidance about what. This began a heated discussion regarding what theyíve encountered thus far has been important and what has been meaningless in their quest to find the Fortress of Conclusion.

Kisses, Coffee, and So Much Killing

Everyone stood around the combat testing floor, cautiously watching the Lord High Exultant sit in the center room, eerie purple light emanating. Keldrake expressed his desire for Tariel to divine questions about the 7 panels they had found earlier, thinking they were doors. Tariel told him when he got the ability to divine he could divine any question he wanted. Tariel took out a piece of paper and started writing down possible questions, in elvish, so no one was quite sure what she was writing. Keldrake grew bored of this waiting around and proceeded to take out the flask of whiskey he carried. Taking a small swig, he proceeded to take an enormous gulp and angrily shoved the bottle back into his pack. He searched for the bottle of abisinthe and took a large swig from that. Waiting for a moment or two, he threw the bottle against the wall, smashing it into a thousand pieces. With a very angry yell he stormed towards Tariel and grabbed her around the waist, pulled her close and gave her quite an inappropriate kiss. At first she resisted, but as the two-minute embrace was ending her right foot went daintily in the air, and when Keldrake released her, she had to take two steps back to regain her balance. Keldrake, meanwhile, yelled out "Nothing! Gods damnit!" he stormed in a circle and unsheathed his katana and wakizashi and headed straight towards the center room. Dr. Midnight, who looked quite aghast when Keldrake had been so presumptuous as to grab Tariel looked on, knowing that Keldrake had previously been beaten and knowing that since his encounter with Mistress Ferranifir and her vampiric lackey he was in no condition to take on the Lord High Exultant himself. Keldrake stepped towards the exit of thi room, one foot on the bridge, angrily waving his swords at the Exultant. "What have you done to me? Iím leaving and you can try and stop me, but I think youíre just a lucky son of a dog? If you want to stop me, if you do stop me, fine, but I donít see anything from stopping me from leaving. Whatever you did to me, whatever is wrong with me, you better hope is curable, or you better kill me, because Iím not living like this. Everything I hold dear has been taken from me, so bring it on." With his unnecessary rhetoric concluded, Keldrake stood, expectant. The Lord High Exultant, effortlessly arose and picked up his wicked two-handed sword.

Dr. Midnight sprang forward jumping to the Lord High Exultantís side, swing his deadly rapier. "This does not concern you!" The Lord shouted as Dr. Midnightís rapier struck him in the side. Without taking his eyes off of Keldrake, who stood waiting in the bridge to the next tower, The Lord swung his mighty sword at Dr. Midnight, the blow ripping a wicked gash in his precious skin. With that he stepped out onto the bridge, swinging his mighty sword as Keldrake lifted his wakizashi to deflect the blow and his katana to strike. Bracing himself in a crouch, Keldrake was able to deflect the heavy swordís first blow and his blow sank deep into the Lordís stomach, black blood started to trickle out. Keldrake stepped forward again, and their swords clang as these two circled each other, wary of the bridges edges. The Lord swung with heavy blows hoping to the knock Keldrake off the edge, Keldrake again caught the blow with his sword. Tasgi and tariel were somewhat startled when a shivering human stepped up from the stairs. Realizing that undead donít get cold, Tasgi and Tariel quickly waved hello and asked if he were here as friend or foe. The man, said he was here to gather information. About Acheronius, the demi-lich, tehy asked. Yes I have heard of him. Dr. Midnight spied Reynald, who he had previoulsy briefly met and shouted out "Are you here for justice friend Reynald?" Reynald nodded, holding his cloak and blanket close to him for warmth. Tariel and Tasgi positioned themselves in view of the fight on the bridge and Reynald followed, asking which was their companion. They identified Keldrake and Reynald unleashed a flurry of magic missiles that struck the Lord in the back. Tasgi, who still hadnít slept to regain his spell ability, took out his wand and tried to duplicate the feat, instead a dark brown, steaming hot liquid poured forth from the end of the wand. Taking a cautionary whiff, Tasgi spoke "Coffee." Reynald looked at the wand and turned to Tasgi "Hot coffee, can I have some?" he asked through chattering teeth. Tasgi made a motion for a mug and Reynald shrugged. Tasgi stopped the flow of coffee. Keldrake and the Lord High Exultant were mightily battling on the bridge, Keldrake attempting to block the Lordís blows, some of which were sneaking through, causing blackish blood to flow from Keldrake as well. This caused Tariel to let out a small shriek "Keldrake!" this surprised even her. The lord finally bent down and let forth an icy blast from his hand, stopping Keldrake cold in his tracks, freezing him solid. Dr. midnight quickly leaped forward to aid his comrade with a cry of "Justice!" The Lord turned to face him and Dr. midnight struck quickly. The Lord landed several heavy blows on Dr. midnight but suddenly threw his weapon away. The streaking red sword landed on the bridges edge, half on/ half off. Dr. Midnight seized this opportunity and stuck his rapier threw the Lordís undead skull, dropping him. Quickly, even though the creatures form was still trying to drain him of energy, Dr. Midnight picked up the Lord and threw him over the edge of the bridge, just as he did so, the Lord sprang back to life, using his jagged claws to scratch at Dr. Midnightís eyes. Dr. Midnight quickly went to Keldrake and began rubbing his frozen form hoping to thaw the ice. Finally he tawed, but in doing so slumped to the ground, black blood pouring from his body. Tariel quickly ran to his aid, and as he reached out for aid she cast a healing spell on him, but instead of healing, Keldrakeís wounds opened deeper, the blood gushed forth and Keldrakeís head slumped. "Oh no, Keldrake!" tariel cried. Dr. midnight though he sensed more than just friendly concern in her voice. She took out her Rod of Resurrection and pointed it at Keldrake, crossing her finger. "Keldrake arise." She commanded. Heavenly goldne light shot forth from the rod, first closing Keldrakeís wounds, then returning his skin tone from itís unearthly grey he had acquired in entering the inner sanctum of the Lord High Exultant, and finally bringing him back from death.

Looking out towards the next tower, Dr. Midnight stepped forward. Let me cross first to make sure itís safe lest we all plummet to our deaths. Was Dr. Midnight actually doing this for all his comrades, or to get the attentions of Tariel who seemed to be looking at Keldrake with love in her eyes. Dr. midnight then stepped ot into the darkness by himself, holding the sides of his cloak, lest the bridge fall, so he could fly and soon was not much more than a speck occasionally illuminated by the ever-present bolts of lightning. Minutes later, he returned reporting the bridge was safe, but just to be sure they should cross one at a time. They all safely made it across the massive bridge and found themselves at another tower and bridge leading off in another direction.. Keldrake and Dr. midnight cautiously entered, opening the first door in which they found a bunker complete with over 10 beds, opposite each bed was a locked metal cabinet. Dr. Midnight pulled the door off the first cabinet and found numerous jars insides, all filled with an oily green liquid. Keldrake joined Dr. Midnight and tehy made their way down the room ripping the doors off of the cabinets, each such a display of masculinity might endear Tariel more to them than the other. As they neared the far wall, each felt a familiar chilling feeling creep across them as a body rose from the last bed in the room and attacked Dr. Midnight. Dr. midnight easily dropped it to the ground, but not taking any chances threw the creature out the window just as it sucked more life from him for itself. All this allowed it to do was writhe on its way towards the abyss below.

Reynald began examining the jars with green liquid, studying them to determine if they were anything familiar to him. After a long time swirling the contents, he was unable to fathom a guess as to what it was, other than best left alone. They continued into the castle, coming finally to a room whose floor had been knocked out. Dr. Midnight asked Tasgi to put away his glowing dagger and he flew down into the pit and found a platform soem 40 feet below the floor. On the platform was an hourglass, perhaps the one referred to in the riddle at the cityís entrance. The riddle told them to turn the hourglass over once the sand has expired. After much discussion about whether this meant they should turn it now, or turn it now and turn it again later, Dr. midnight finally turned it over. A click was heard when he did so. Tasgi determined that they had about an hour before the blue sand would run out. While they were discussing what to do next, a fear crept over all of them as the sounds of thousands of voices crying out in pain was audible to all. Everyone readied their weapon and looked around uneasily. A slow fog rolled around them, and suddenly several appendages formed in the fog striking out at everyone. Tasgi screamed in fear (unnatural, he would have us believe), and the pseudopods struck everyone. Keldrake struggled tomaintain his humanity and intelligence as it seemed the entity was feeding on their psyches. Everyone struck at the fog around them, but only Keldrake and dr. midnightís weaposn had any affect. Reynald magically hasted everyone (except Dr. Midnight, who did not want the unnatural aging that accompanied such a spell), tasgi tried to jar the fog with a bolt of magical force, but as he pointed his wand crying outís activation words through tears of fear "Wand of Wonder!" a red gelatinous wall formed around Dr. midnight. Tasgi lifted his nose to the air and softly spoke "Strawberry gelatin. Quite good when one is sick." Dr. Midnight looked watched his wiggling, jiggling prsion in fear. Tariel turned into a white badger and started running away, soemthing she had yelled for everyone to do before changing. She made it only a few feet before the "arms" of this entity struck her dead. Tasgi though about trying another spell, but before he could do anything, the "arms struck him dead to the ground. Reynald quickly bolted, picking up the badger as he ran. Keldrake and dr. midnight continued fighting, until Keldrake bashed his sword against the wall and it fell from his hands. In the dark fog he stumbled around looking for it, finally picking it up as Dr. Midnight ran past. Dr. Midnight yelled out to Keldrake that he had broken free of the fog and Keldrake continued fighting as he moved back ( he knew this wasnít the smartest thing to do, but couldnít think of anything more intelligent to do). One of the limbs of the fog swung up to strike him just as he plunged his sword into the fog. The limb came down hard on his head and struck him dead. Dr. midnight looked on as his new comrade lay dead and the fog dispersed. Dr. midnight called Reynald back (he had scampered over to the Twoer of the Lord High Exultant) and they picked up their friends. They returned to the Exultantís tower and realized that Tarielís rod had transformed with her. Searching their bodies for much needing healing supplies, they came across Keldrakeís Four Leaf Clover pin.

Reynald fingered the emerald green pin and he and Dr. Midnight discussed the wording of the wish available to them from the pin and itís ramifications. They knew that wishes wee indeed the most powerful spell, but also tended to have some karmic backlash if used greedily. All they wanted was for their companions to be alive again. Taking out paper, they began to write down various versions of what they wanted, careful not to wish for too much. After over half an hour later they thought they had finally figured out the best wording and Dr. Midnight grabbed the charm and wished away. There was a brief pause and suddenly the badger, Tasgi and Keldrakeís wounds healed and life once again stirred within them. Dr. Midnight and Reynald held their breath for a moment, aware that perhaps there were some repercussions, but nothing happened. Dr. Midnight realized that the hourglass was probably almost empty, and although everyone was thankful they were all alive again, they did not have time to revel in their "good fortune". They rushed back across the bridge to the Tower of the Vestige and swooping down to the platform, Dr. midnight was present to see the last few grains drain to the bottom. Once he was sure it was completely drained he turned it over again, and again an audible click was heard, but this time a little bit different.

Dr. Midnight and Reynald were severely wounded, Tariel and Tasgi had no spell recollection, an unfortunate side effect of ebing dead, so they decided to camp out in one of the roomís and hoped that they hadnít merely temporarily dispelled the Vestige, or if they did that it wouldnít come back while they slept. Reynald still shivered from the cold and the spell Tariel had cast on herself, Dr. Midnight, Tasgi and Keldrake (who she still looked at a little googly eyed) was going to expire soon. Searching the tower for any wood they came up with nothing. Tasgi, Reynald and Tariel sat down, huddling together in one room while the tow manly-men went off in search of warmth. Thinking that the vials of green liquid might be flammable and they tested a bit on one of the thin blankets in the bunker-room. It burned, albeit with a bit of smoke. They then poured the whole bottle on the blanket, thinking it might make for a good fire-source. Setting a spark to it, it indeed caught fire well, but quickly the smoke filled the room and as the sparks settled down, both Dr. Midnight and Keldrake slumped against the walls, they were so very tired....

Meanwhile, Tasgi had come across the torches in his pack, and after some debate with himself decided to use the wand again to try and enlarge them. He enlarged three of them, and Tariel set them up and lit them for a camp-fire. The torches burned hot and soon they all had some of the chill taken from them. It was then they asked themselves what had happened to their muscle-bound friends. Tasgi and Tariel went in search of them and came across their slightly chilled bodies slumped on the floor in restful slumber. Trying to wake them up was pointless and no amount of kicking jarred them. They dragged the lunk-heads back into the room where they had set up the fire and Tariel turned into a white-owl thinking the birdís downy coat would help her keep warm. A mouse that Tasgi had summoned in enlarging the torches proved quite a snack for this snow-white bird. They all slept, hoping nothing would attack them, but realizing if it did, being awake just wouldnít matter. When tehy awoke, they again tried to revive Dr. Midnight and Keldrake, but to no avail. The three awake persons studied and prayed for their spells and Tariel quickly went about healing Reynald and Dr. midnight who were still each nursing wounds from the battle with the vestige. Tasgi prepared a simple soup from their rations that was quite delicious, spicy and warming. They still waited for their sleeping beauties... It wasnít until the following "morning" that they awoke. The awake members did their best to entertain themselves during the time, playing games, Tasgi and Tariel played some music, Tasgi created another delicious meal for them. They all slept through the evening once again.

Finally, with everyone awake they decided to move on. They decided to head across to the tower they knew to be empty as opposed to returning to the Exultantís tower and trying their luck going back through the various tests contained on itís lower level. Dr. Midnight again volunteered to cross, but to save time he strapped Tariel to him with a rope harness, so if the bridge collapsed she would not fall to her death. Something, somewhere suggests that he had an ulterior motive. Sure enough as they made it halfway across the bridge, they felt a trembling and the bridge starting collapsing under them. Dr. Midnight grabbed the sides of his cloak and sprouted the magical bat-like wings they had seen on him before. He and Tariel dropped nary 10 feet before assuming their own flight. They continued on towards the tower and as they flew in the always- night sky, they were suddenly attacked by the buffeting of headless bat-like creatures. The creaturesí attacks were unrelenting , butting their bodies into the two of them, and their companions had no idea what was happening. With Tariel securely fastened , Dr. Midnight landed on the steps of the bottomless tower and began attacking the flying marauders. Tariel freed herself from the harness and swung her mace at creatures also. Frustrated with their darting ways, Midnight threw a net out at the creatures and caught one with it, the net and flyer fell into the abyssal depth below. Finally they thwarted all the beasts and quickly resecured Tariel and returned to their companions at top speed, deciding it might be best to try and find and alternate route. They went back towards the Tower of the Exultant and realized they didnít have to go through, but could merely go around the outside of the tower. Not wanting to be anything but cautious, Tasgi cast Fly spells on all those that couldnít already and they flew down to the lower entrance bridge of the tower.

They traveled to the Tower of Portals Tasgi spoke of first seeing when he entered the city. Inside they found three portals, none o which allowed vision through to see what lay beyond. Recalling the initial riddle, they thought perhaps the three riddles/ puzzles mentioned might have something to do with these three portals. Dr. Midnight activated the first, and the mists in the portal were still hazy, so they still didnít know where it led. They walked to the next one and this time Tariel activated it. Instantaneously, everyone was being sucked towards the portal by a phenomenal sucking force. Tariel quickly dropped to the floor and grabbed onto one of the free floating stairs as best she could. Tasgi dropped also attempting to secure himself digging his fingers into the bricks of the floor. Keldrake, who was behind Tariel, also grabbed hold of one of the steps. Reynald, who was still flying thanks to Tasgiís spell ried pulling himself away from th portal, but he was making negative progress. Seeing his friends in dire straits, Dr. Midnight allowed himself to pulled towards the portal and aimed to deactivate it. As he looked straight in the portal, straight into nothing, his hand went for the palm print that activated it, and the force was too much pulling himm into the nether-region beyond. Tasgi and Reynald were being pulled towards the portal and Tasgi let the force carry him and focused all him energy on getting his hand (which only had four fingers) into the palm print. He pulled himself to his feet and leaned into the direction of the portal and just as Tarielís fingers started slipping and Reynal was getting uncomfortably close to losing the tenuous grip he had, Tasgiís hand found itís target, and like that, the sucking stopped. Keldrake and Tariel immediately fell downwards, secured only by their arms. Tariel almost slipped, which would have sent her plummeting into the darkness below. Keldrake pulled himself up and then ran over to Tariel to aid her. Only Tasgiís launderer will know he scared he was looking into infinite blackness. Everyoneís spirits were down a little realizing Dr. Midnight was mot likely lost to them, but they moved on. Hoping they didnít have to activate the third portal, they decided to leave it alone for now. Just then an executioner wielding a shiny axe approached the party (had he come from the portal they had opened first) and pointed at Reynald. "Lay down your head so you may receive your punishment!" the executioner bellowed at Reynald. Reynald turned towards the hiulking man and shook his head. Keldrake quickly jumped between the two of them and raised his sword. The executionerís axe swung towards Reynald and cut deep into hi arm, while Keldrake struck mightily with his katana. The executionerís second blow missed and Keldrake unleashed a flurry of blows, the last finally knocking it off the ledge they stood on sending it plunging to the depths below.

The moved towards the exit of the tower and cautiously crossed the bridge, each was still able to fly, so they did so, making sure to stay close to the ground. They entered the next tower and found themselves on a very small ledge in a tower with no apparent floor. A rusty ladder led down from the ledge and two exits were barely noticeable across the tower, but the most prevalent feature of the tower was the sound of gently lapping waves soem 50 feet below them. With the temperature being well below freezing the smell of brine slowly filled their frozen-snot clogged noses. Tariel quickly took out her small notepad. The brine dragon she cried out. "Okay, who can swim?" Tasgi was the only one who couldnít. They did realize though that they would not be able to go down tyoday, they didntít have the right spells to allow them to survive the freezing cold depths they were sure to find below. Whiel they discussed their option and attack plan for the beast beneath the waves, they heard a cry behind them. A familiar cry. The cry of "Justice!" coming from a joyous Dr. Midnight. He ran across the bridge to meet his companions and gave each and uncharacteristic hug, perhaps hugging Tariel a bit too long. He told them al he was very glad to see them. They all shrugged, heíd only been gone about half an hour. When they asked where he ended up, he told them "It wasnít a good place, none of us should go back there, but it has provided me with a goal. I will defeat Acheronius."

The tale continues....: