The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, III

Part III – Skull Crossing Dam to Fort Rannick; On the verge of catastrophe, pressing mysterious buttons.

Caught in a moment of indecision as they were about to start rappelling down the face of the dam, Tersplink decided to go inform the rest of the party that the scouting mission had secured the bizarre skull building on the middle of the dam. Gathering up everyone except Arradin and Dagfinn, the group returned to the building to look for a way down. The dam was looking in pretty bad shape, with new cracks appearing and small leaks developing on the face.

Testing the doors that had stymied Kerplak, Tersplink knocked it open to reveal a flight of stairs, leading of into the darkness. With rogues up front and new-guy-Torgor bringing up the rear they descended down flights of ancient stairs until deep within the dam. About a 100ft down, the stairs led to another set of stone doors. Beyond lay a room dominated by a murky pool awash with algae and fungus. Doors led to the east and west and on the far side of the room another set of stone doors, with a pile of polished skulls blocking it. After a few moments of initial exploration, the waters of the pool erupted as a huge Scrag broke the water. It lunged at Corwin, the tines of its vicious fork punching through his armour and chest and dropping him to the floor.

The rest of the party leapt into action against the scaly troll. Torgor, being well acquainted with giant creatures, shared his expertise in dealing with them as Lonny and Baaz engaged the troll. Baaz took a terrible hit, but the Half-orc stayed up. Tersplink evened the playing field somewhat by weakening the troll and buffing Lonny and Corwin. Kerplak and Torgor supplied missile support, one of Torgor’s shocking burst arrows seeming to daze the creature for long enough to everyone else to rain down a torrent of strikes against the Scrag. With a flurry of well placed blows, Baaz knocked the lifeless troll to the bottom of the murky pool.

Danger apparently averted, everyone split off in different directions, Baaz diving into the pool to retrieve the trident, the rogues checking the doors and Lonny and Torgor clearing away the pile of polished skulls from the large doorway.

Trivia: Grazuul enjoyed the feel of a freshly polished skull so much that he’d pass the time by peeling his own skin off, polishing his skull and then allowing the skin to regenerate back. If anyone had checked his skull, they’d have found it immaculately smooth underneath his scaly skin.

The room to the west revealed a large pool, with no other outstanding features. The room to the East possessed a magical scale model of the dam built into the wall that attracted the gnomes. Behind the double doors, Corwin, Lonny and Torgor found a narrow room with both ends blocked off by portcullissess… portcullisi… portcullexes… port-…  big metal gates. Behind each, a circle of glowing runes illuminated the room with an orange glow. To the west, the circle contained ash, to the east, the withered shell of a devil. Torgor spotted the seemingly dead devil’s shallow breathing and Lonny took pre-emptive measures and channeled the power of Torag, reducing the devil to cinder. After checking that the cinder wasn’t hiding anything, the party took a moment to muse over their respective puzzles.

The gnomes spotted the model of the room Lonny, Corwin and Torag occupied and noticed that there were two buttons set into the floor behind tiny model portcullises.  Asking a gnome to refrain from activating a device whose purpose is unknown is a bit if a tall order and the cousins pressed both buttons on the model. When they did so, the jaws of the model skulls dropped and small spouts of water splooshed into the pool below for a minute or so before the jaws closed again.

Meanwhile, Corwin attempted to sabotage one of the portcullises so that nothing could pass and Lonny sifted through the pile of ash. The party put its heads together to try to figure the workings of the dam. Lonny and Corwin ran all the way back up the dam’s inner staircase, to view the outside of the dam but when they arrived, they found no change in the situation up top. Corwin was by this time wary of the dam and made for the Ettin’s cave and safety. Lonny returned below.

Tersplink determined that the rune-filled circles were custom-made to hold devils using an archaic form of rune-magic. Tremendously powerful at their intended task, they would not hold in a handsome gnome sorceror or his cousin. Kerplak and Tersplink stepped into the circles at the same time at which point to runes flared and drew a substantial chunk of life force from the gnomes. The dam started to rumble ominously and the party decided to flee the dam’s interior. Tersplink cast Fly on himself and his cousin and took off for Turtleback Ferry and the restoration that Father Ivan could provide. The rest of the party watched as the jaws of the immense stone skulls opened and the dam water was safely vented into the lower Skull River. The pressure behind the beleaguered dam reduced or at least in the process of being reduced, everyone returned to Fort Rannick.

While the Skull River rose substantially, it did so with none of the violence of the dam breach and eventually the Storval Deep dropped lower and lower. The skulls closed up, the water venting ceased and finally the torrential rains ended. Concerning themselves with their various tasks and errands, the party passed the Winter. In the quiet months that followed Lonny saw to the rebuilding and management of the Fort. Arradin set to organising the defenses of Fort Rannick and Dagfinn hired specialists from Magnimar to supplement the Fort’s staff. Torgor learned what he could from Jakardros Sovark before Sovark and Shalelu left for Sandpoint. Baaz took to the nearby mountainous spurs and built a shrine to Irori and a place to enjoy solitude. The Dropwad cousins absorbed themselves in crafting, Kerplak in gadgetry and Tersplink in the manufacture of useful potions. Corwin, rattled by the exposure to Thassilonian magics, from the infernal engine of the dam’s mechanism to the soul-interfering qualities of the Sihedron medallions considered selling off the Impaler of Thorns. He realised that a powerful artifact, millenia old was practically priceless – a quality that made it both valuable and dangerous to possess.