Out of the Woods

Episode 6 - Untouchable

Our heroes delve underground to pay for a curse to be removed

After collecting their reward in Llanfairfach and spending much of it on new supplies, our heroes hire a horse and cart and prepare to head to Rowanville, the wizard college town where they hope to find a cure for the curse laid on Artur. Glencora decides to stay behind with Daffyd and Gavin, and bids a fond farewell to Fensir.

The group make it to Rowanville without further incident, and find a town bustling with life: student wizards practicing cantrips in a field, an alchemy business run by the affable Bartholomew Beetleburg, esquire, and of course the college itself. Built in an ancient, abandoned wizard’s tower made of unusual green stone, it rises high above the rest of the town. Fax transforms into a rat and tries to crawl up its side into one of the windows, but finds it magically protected as he is zapped by lightning and knocked back to the ground, though none the worse for wear.

Inside the group meet with the senior instructor, Viola Ramkin, a conjurer – though the school is mostly known for its expertise in divination and communication magic, it has a broad curriculum. Fensir explains their story, and Viola agrees to arrange one of her faculty to prepare and cast a remove curse spell on Artur; in return, she asks them to investigate the strange tremors that have been felt over the last few days. She sent some senior students into the tower basements, where the ancient wizards who lived here once stored their magics; the lower levels are protected from scrying by mighty enchantments, so going down is the only way to discover what’s happening.

As the party prepare for their descent they notice Euphoria is not with them; she’s been talking to an older tiefling dressed in wizard robes, who gives her something before departing. Euphoria approaches her friends and tells them she must go – there’s something she must do, alone, and it’s important. Her friends all trust her and wish her well, and they make a few arrangements to leave information where they go so they might meet up again in future. She seems momentarily troubled, but then determined, and leaves on a quest of her own.

As they descend through the upper basement levels – used to stop food and supplies, to which Fax helps himself – they detect the wards Viola told them of, but there’s no sign of the student wizards. On the lowest level they discover a hole in the basement wall, seemingly made by the shaping of the stone itself. The hole opens into a tunnel through the earth which twists and turns under the tower’s foundations. They also find a couple of arcane safes built into the floor with no apparent way to open them – one of which, though, was broken open by whatever opened the hole.

Liafel notices a pair of eyes in the tunnel, and Fax transforms into a wolf and leads the way to investigate. They encounter a strange, part-insect like creature made not of flesh but of earth and stone. Valna Emrys successfully confuses it with an illusion, but as they advance it calls more of its kind and they try to surround the party. Fax tries to speak with them using his druid magic, and they seemingly understand, though not very well; it puts them off guard and the party attacks, passing through the group and deeper into the tunnels.

At the end of the tunnel is a large chamber in the earth, empty save for an enormous, scintillating shell. As the heroes arrive, with the smaller creatures hot on their tail, a burt of brilliant light emanates from the shell and all save Valna are mesmerised by it. She hits or kicks the others and manages to snap Fax and Liafel out of it just in time for an enormous snail-like creature to emerge from the shell. It attacks Valna with it’s club-like tentacles, and injures her pretty badly, but Fax – after burying the strange egg-like object Fensir has been carrying, which has been vibrating since they came down here – transforms back into his regular form and heals her. A fight ensues with the party easily standing back from the snail, though as it retreats into its shell it is almost impossible to attack. Only Liafel’s expert marksmanship is able to find the creature’s flesh.

As the fight continues, a wave of energy emanates from the shell, making the chamber larger and causing the tremors. Though it does not seem evil, the group decide it must be weakening the tower’s foundations and they finish it off. Meanwhile a mud mephit bursts from the object Fensir had been carrying, causing more mayhem, but they defeat it and once the snail is dying, the earth-spider creatures all collapse into nothing as well. Liafel realises the snail’s solidified, resin-like trail – of which Valna snags a piece – begins as if from nowhere. Fensir also manages to find a small piece of unusual metal, and the group also collect a number of bits and pieces that fell out of the dead snail’s shell. The chamber begins to collapse, just as the three student wizards reappear as if from nowhere; they all rush back up to the basement as the earth just seems to fill back in.

Upstairs the students are taken to be cared for and as the party recount what happened they realise the creature was a “Flail Snail”, a mighty elemental creature which consumes gems and stones and sometimes magical objects. It seems likely the shell was kept inside the safe that was ruptured – but whether it came to life by itself or something else happened is uncertain. The wave of energy that was causing the tremors is certainly not natural for such a creature, and Viola worries that this is a sign the walls between this world and others is somehow wearing thin. She inspects the metal object and realises it is part of am Amulet of the Planes, a forbidden magical device that allows travel between worlds; she agrees as additional payment to have some of her artificers use it to begin repairs on the broken amulet they found in the forest, which is also an Amulet of the Planes, though not of a design she is familiar with. The wizards of Rowanville will keep it safe until these repairs are finished.

Their work for the day done, Viola gestures towards a side room; they are ready to remove Artur’s curse…

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