Having finished the strange tale of the dream that they all shared the companions once again turn their attention back to the walls of the Tower of the Shattered Sphinx. After some careful thought Lars decides that the answer to the riddle carved into the stone wall is clearly:
“The thrill of adventure!” which he loudly calls out to the wall, eagerly awaiting a response of some kind…a response which never comes.
Feeling that she knows the correct answer Sasha proudly proclaims that the answer is:
“Nothing!” and smiles to herself as the stones slowly groan open.
The companions pass through the stone entryway and find themselves in a large circular room. The air feels cooler and drier here and Lars is absolutely certain that the room they now stand in is much larger than the outside of the tower had led them to believe. The floor is a checkerboard of black and white stone tiles and across the room, the companions can make out two elegantly crafted staircases. Crafted from polished dark wood and lined with blue carpets they rise to the left and right spiraling back along the round walls. The room is largely empty, except for a few pieces of furniture – some low wooden tables and a cushioned bench. There are no torches or other obvious light sources, but the room seems to be uniformly lit at a comfortable level. In the center of the room, the companions are alarmed to see a 9 foot tall humanoid wearing armor, a stony caricature of a stick-figure, a massive conglomeration of stone, wood, and metal.
…As the group steps forward, the construct suddenly strides into the middle of the room. It is surprisingly quiet with it’s movements, only the clunk of it’s stone feet against the stone tiles, which shake the floor as it walks toward the companions.
“Please announce yourselves and your intentions in this place!”
Impressed with the construct’s ability to speak Lars quickly steps forward and begins introducing the companions before asking after Master Stahlbo.
“You are acquaintances of Master Stahlbo?” the tall figure questions. To which Lars answers that yes indeed we are acquaintances. Knowing that they are in fact here to aid or rescue the wizard Stahlbo, Ornith asks the construct when the last visitors were here at the tower. Sadly the construct has response for the out of the ordinary question.
“You may enter as guests. Please listen closely as I detail expected behavior. … Know that this tower is not designed with the safety or comfort of visitors in mind. Not even The Master knows every room and hallway. Master Stahlbo is not responsible for any loss of life of property resulting from your time spent here. Tampering with locked doors is strictly forbidden. Do not attempt to trespass beyond them. Theft, vandalism, arson, assault, and solicitation will not be tolerated. If you cannot or do not wish to comply with these regulations, please depart through the portal where you entered.” the companions stand speechless waiting to see if there are any other items to add to the list, but none arrive. Able to get no more answers to their litany of questions the companions decide that they have little other choice than to start exploring the tower. Having done its duty the construct turns and moves back to where it stood originally. As it turns Ornith notices a rather rare clump of lichen attached to its back…a rather odd and out of place find…
Gaining no further knowledge or advantage from further interrogation of the construct the companions decide to explore up the left staircase first. There is a large landing here with some comfortable looking chairs and many bookcases. The furniture is clean and polished, but the books are disheveled and some of them are scattered across the floor. Looking closer Tamull finds that the books of this shelf appear somewhat decayed and the wood of the shelf itself a bit rotten in parts with even some mold growing on the books. Curious Ornith finds that this mold is not a very common variety…yet another strange find in this tower, and takes a sample of the spores with her.
Deciding to check out the hallway first the companions move off down it, jumping in surprise as the construct’s loud booming voice echoes down after them warning of what will happen if items are taken from the tower. Hearing the loud thudding of the construct’s stone feet Sasha quickly scampers back to the room of books, quietly and bashfully replacing the books that had accidentally fallen into her open backpack.
Traveling down the hallway the companions are slightly surprised when they are met suddenly with a beaded curtain. The beads appear to be carved wood and give way only slightly when pressed upon. Finding this some kind of odd wizardy joke Ragnarok presses mightily on them, hoping that he can perhaps hold them open for the rest of the companions to walk through. It is all to no avail though and the companions watch perplexed as the fighter’s massive biceps flex once more with veins standing out in ridges before giving up the fight. Remembering suddenly that one of his spells might be useful for just such an occasion, Lars recites the words for the spell “Open, Close” and watches in satisfaction as the beads part effortlessly allowing the companions to enter the room beyond. On the other side of the beads is a room with a cushioned bench and another curtain of beads, these ones apparently metal, at the far end. In the center of the floor is a piece of paper, the edge is ragged as if it was torn from a book:
“The increase in activity in the planar scrying columns continues. I’ve not see anything like it in decades. I’ll have to ask Daedelus what he makes of it, but that may have to wait. Since his invitation to the Council, he’s been difficult to reach. Still, it does please me that a pupil of mine has risen so high. I was worried for a time, he was always gallavanting around with those two idiot friends of his.
I had enough of the damn door and finally changed it. It was so troublesome tracking down the four parts of the square every time, that I got fed up and had two keys made for the door instead. It wasn’t easy. I’m still not sure what the door is made of. I owe Igoi for his assistance in the matter. His knowledge of metallurgy far surpasses my own. I should probably find a safe place for them, but I do not think it is a pressing concern., In the meantime, I’ve taken to hiding one in a bophor’s blessing and another on the shelves in a book about locksmithing. The latter amuses me.”
Finding this information both simultaneously intriguing as well as helpful the companions attempt to pass through the metal curtain of beads, this time however the beads don’t even appear to move in the slightest. Not sure if they perhaps missed some clue in regards to how to proceed the companions return to the previous room to explore the other doors.
One of the doors leads into yet another large room similarly decorated as the previous ones, only this time there is also a large object covered with a drape in one corner. Fearlessly pulling the cloth from the object Sasha is both startled and confused by what she finds, a massive brass hoop with some unreadable inscription on it. Lars of course can read the inscription immediately:
“No legs have I to dance, No lungs have I to breathe, No life have I to live or die And yet I do all three.”
Used to this game now both Ornith and Sasha call out “Fire!” and watch in amazement as a shimmering, color swirling, fire blazes up within the hoop. Brazenly sticking a hand into the flames Sasha is amazed to find herself unscathed…Ornith is amazed the rogue won’t be sporting a stump or hook. With nothing else seemingly happening in regards to the now lit hoop the companions move on to yet another door in hopes of some answers.
The last door on this level left to the companions is one which is locked and which Sasha cannot quite figure out how to unlock. It isn’t until a small object is noticed deep in a tiny hole that the group is able to unlock the door, utilizing Lars’ mage-hand item to free the locking mechanism. The companions find themselves in a room containing yet more furniture as well as what appears to be a mirror and a chest. Opening the chest Ragnarok is disappointed to find nothing within, turning however he catches a glimpse in the mirror and is stunned to see the reflection of the chest brimming with treasure…whirling back on the chest itself however reveals nothing but an empty chest. After some experimentation the companions can’t quite discover the trick to either the chest or the mirror and so move on once again.
Walking up the last staircase the companions come to a door with yet another inscription upon it, this one slightly more difficult than the previous ones with the answer eventually being figured out to open the door in darkness. The first door leads them into a large room with a stone tile floor and a blue rug, a very long table lined with chairs on either side, and with candelabras placed at regular intervals along the table. Ornith is both surprised and unsurprised to see two large clay pots at opposite ends of the room in which are potted Bophor’s Blessing, one plant living and one seemingly dead. Eager that there may be a key hidden in one of the pots Sasha and Ornith immediately search around in the dirt of the pots, but find nothing aside from the plants themselves.
Finding nothing within this room the companions return to try another door, this one merely leading into what seems to be a kitchen area with nothing of use. Proceeding down the last large hall with a rug of the now familiar blue color running the length of it. The companions are a little disconcerted to see large windows with bright light shining through them lining the hall, yet the windows are clouded over and nothing can be seen out of them. The companions are stopped once more at the end of the hall by what appears to be large doors of some sort. Entering the room the companions notice that in the floor there seems to be a large metal disc as well as a large glass orb resting on a table. No sooner does the last member of the group enter however and a loudly audible click noise is heard, throwing Ornith, Ragnarok, and Sasha to the ground and pressing them there for a few brief moments. When the companions are able to stand once again and gather themselves together they notice that there is now a five foot in diameter circle in the ceiling mirroring the disc in the floor. Thinking that the disc is perhaps an elevator, Tamull quickly steps on to it in expectation of being lifted…nothing happens however. With some rope and a boost though, Sasha is able to climb up the shaft before throwing her rope down to the others.
The air is thick and humid and full of rolling fog banks which obscure the vision very easily. Unsure of what lies ahead the companions begin to move forward searching for anything. Before too long however, the companions are stopped in their tracks by the appearance of a cloaked female figure. Calling out to her the companions shrink back in surprise and fear as the baleful red gaze of the woman falls on them, the vipers writhing about her head and face clearly aggressive and bent on their destruction.
After a brief yet dangerous battle (for one direct look from the woman can kill a man) the companions manage to slay the woman-like creature with Ragnarok landing the killing blow, severing the wriggling head from it’s body. Looking around and seeing only the pedestal in the immediate vicinity the companions move toward it…hoping against hope that this time they might find a valuable and viable clue…