Lamashan 29 – Neth 1, 4708 AR
Reliving their amazing beat down of three dragons and two rune giants, the Heroes of Sandpoint recharged their battered bodies in the skulks’ domain and plotted upcoming strategy. Two schools of thought were discussed: continue to thin out Karzoug’s forces in the lower city or strike immediately for the upper city, the Spires of Xin-Shalast.
While both perspectives had merit, the group decided that getting bogged down in a war of attrition against the denizens of the lower city could prove too costly and their immediate goal of defeating the rising Karzoug was more pressing.
So, the next day, a cold blustery day, our heroes set out to climb the hidden stair well through the mountain. The 7000 foot climb was long and arduous, leaving the group ready for a rest and nourishment on the ledge, near the rotting roper corpse, as a cold wind whipped ominously through the cavern.
Lindin attempted to make his way to the cave’s opening, but the winds, fierce at 124 miles per hour, made this challenging. When he finally reached the opening, snow and ice stung his face and rendered him practically blind.
Returning to his comrades, the Lord of the Hook told them of the punishing winds awaiting them outside, and the group realized that travel, alone, would be hazardous in these conditions, let alone attempting to fight off a dragon attack.
Realizing this, the party decided to rest in the cavern for the day and tomorrow, hoping Ayra’s prayer to Calistria could make the elements more palatable, they would head out across the ledge and into the crumbling series of massive halls and manors clinging to the mountain.
The next morning brought similar weather, but Ayra’s prayer calmed the fierce winds, returning them to a more manageable 40 miles per hour. With the weather controlled, and bright sunlight blazing in the sky, the group headed out, taking cover in the mansions they crossed until they came to the great, Golden Road, wending its way up the mountain towards the upper city above.
No foes appeared as they made their way to the exposed, gold-plated road, but, below them, the eagle-eyed sellsword and ranger pointed out that the dragons and giants they had defeated two days previous, were spiked along the road, seeming to serve as a reminder that failure is not acceptable.
So, they climbed, ever upwards, until the road became a cyclopean stairway, gleaming brightly in the day’s sun. Two massive platforms flanked the stairway which lead to an alabaster, tower guarded landing above that served as the gateway to the upper city of Xin-Shalast.Lindin, through months of resolute training in the mountains in the Hook, took a deep breath and realized that the stairway would lead the party into the death zone, the altitude where the air suffocates the uninitiated. Hoping his training would be sufficient to overcome this challenge, the group climbed on.
On they climbed, and made their way up the landing unopposed. However, as they reached that level, Lindin and Bahne’s bodies seemed to work against them. Wracked with crippling pain and their senses and brains assaulted with horrific visions of some alien world, the ranger and fighter could not move on.
Ayra, linked to her comrades with divine magical assistance, noticed the two falling back, fighting against some mental antagonist. Detecting magic in the area proved ineffective to detect what could be causing the human and dwarf to suffer. Ayra began to attempt to heal the two when another wave of this pain and terror overtook them.
Erekhil, noticing that Deivon, Ayra and himself, who wore the Sihedron, appeared immune to whatever affected his two comrades, took off is Sihedron Ring, and immediately was overcome by pain and mind-numbing horror.
Managing to overcome this first wave, Erekhil slipped the ring back on and felt armored against any future suffering. Telling the group this, Lindin slipped on his Sihedron Medallion and also felt protected against whatever magic caused his suffering.
The group, however, was left in a difficult predicament.
Making their way from the landing, away from the source of Bahne’s suffering, the Heroes realized that while Lindin could use one of the two Sihedron Medallions to pass through into the upper city, Bahne could not remove the Necklace of Adaption that provided him life giving oxygen on the mountain.
Ayra and Deivon wracked their magical brains hoping to come up with a solution, but none appeared. They needed another ring.
However, their activity drew the attention of two rune giants who very quickly made their way up the Golden Road to eliminate whoever dared trespass on their lord’s stair.
Although the combat was brutal, with a combination of invisibility, martial prowess and magical might the group prevailed and their two foes fell. Searching the giants’ possessions, the group found what they desperately needed: a Sihedron Ring for Bahne.
Looking back upwards towards the peak of Mhar Massif, Karzoug’s leering face seeming to laugh at their feebleness, the Heroes of Sandpoint marched resolutely up.