Apotheosis

Heart Of Nightfang Spire

Nightfang Spire has long brooded in lonely silence, shadowed within the walls of a steep defile. A tall stone column, it resembles nothing so much as an enormous fang of some vanished mythical beast. Once, a fervent religious order thrived here – before its god was slain. Embracing that death, Nightfang Spire was transformed into a massive, hollow mortuary filled with the restless dead. When an old ally goes missing investigating the Spire, fate brings the Champions of Absalom back together to learn the true about this ancient monolith.

After over five years of following their own paths, the five Champions of Absalom find themselves summoned back to Absalom’s busy Coins district by a letter from a mysterious ally. The five heroes reunite in the hub of trade just in time to witness the descent of a giant, flying airship of clearly dwarven design. The group are summoned on board the vessel by the familiar venerable face of Kurgan Duminsson, former alchemist and engineer of ‘The Freedom Phalanx’. Kurgan apologises for the nature of his summoning, but continues to explain that since the construction of his airship, ‘The Skysentinel’, he has been working with Eloranta Naslun (who also assisted in the Skysentinels construction) in helping her locate sites of arcane importance for her continued research into practical applications of magic. Kurgan explains that their journeys had been going to plan, until they traveled to northern Ustalav to study the recent discovery of a previously hidden underground spire. Eloranta left to explore the location, but failed to return. The dwarves own investigations led him to believe others have gone missing around the spire and out of concern for one of his business partners, he decided that the Champions of Absalom were his best chance of discovering what is going on.

Happy to assist an old friend and a woman they rescued five years ago, the adventurers quickly make preparations and leave with Kurgan aboard the Skysentinel. Despite the incredibly speed of their mode of transportation, the group find themselves with plenty of time to catch up on the last few years of their lives. Only Behnam remains strangely absent from most of the conversations, nursing his air sickness in his quarters. During the journey, Nazuk has a strange dream about a several monstrous creatures attacking a woman, not unlike herself, at the side of a river. She brings the dream to Alberts attention, who notices that the shadow dancer now seems to possess a spark of divination magic she did not previously have. The slyph explains further that prior to the group reuniting, she received a note about a prophecy that someone believed she plays a part in. Initially Albert suggests that the prophecy has no foundation in fact, but later comments that they will need to keep an eye on things.

At the journeys end, the group arrive at a nearby settlement in Ustalav where Kurgan promises to remain with the airship. Albert summons a host of spectral steeds for the heroes to ride to ensure they arrive at the site as quickly as possible. The heroes ride swiftly towards Nightfang Spire, but their journey is interrupted when they come upon a woman being attacked by a group of flame-red, four armed insect like humanoids at the rivers edge. The champions make short work of the creatures, which they identify as Xill. Nazuk quickly realises that the woman bares a stong resemblance to her, and that the events that have just played out are very similar to her dream. The woman identifies herself as Mertha and explains that she was on route to meet a man named Viggor Fehr, a warrior associated with the powers of air. Intrigued by the woman, but desperate to reach the spire, Albert offers her his card and advises that they may look her up at a later date. Despite being thrown by the encounter and evidence that Nazuks dream was a sign of something to come, the heroes continue to Nightfang Spire.

Arriving at the tower, the group are greeted by a three hundred foot structure of solid stone, housed in a foreboding canyon. The spire is decorated with stone gargoyles, haunting faces, porticos, ledges and baleful texture, with the only entrances seeming to be the black vertical mouth at it’s crown and an opening into a small ossuary abutting the towers western side. Deciding to check the smaller entrance first, they enter the dry mortared building. Within they discover over a dozen humanoid bodies and numerous animal corpses, including Eloranta Naslun. All the bodies have been lulled to sleep and fed upon by an insidious plant growth called blightvine. The blightvine starts to ‘sing’ to the heroes to sleep, but they are able to resist it’s lure, recover the bodies and destroy the growths, sadly finding no other exits from the small structure. While the remains of those killed here hold little of note, the group are able to retrieve a few minor trinkets. However, Albert notices that Eloranta has been stripped of most of her trappings, including her spell book. One of the womans remaining journals notes her concerns about the spires interior and prompts the former agents to investigate in her stead. Albert uses his magic to fly the champions up and into the spire, while Nazuk scales the side with ninja-like grace.

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As the five adventurers drop into the spires hollow top, they notice the stench of rotting meat and discover the remains of a half-eaten black dragon. Their arrival disturbs the residents of the entrance and a handful of wights and a strange beast known as a mooncalf attack them both in the air and on land. The champions manage to overcome the creatures, and drop down into Nightfang Spire proper through a revealed hole. While the structure appears sound, the group discern it is clearly ancient in both design and age, having sustained heavy damage from the now deceased dragon above. Early exploration of the top level is greeted by attacks from half a dozen vampire spawn, resulting in some hard fought battles. As the heroes explore the top level further they uncover several profane crypts and alters, facing several traps and undead in the process but also locating several ancient magical treasures, including Nazuk locating a dagger designed to kill ghosts referred to as ‘Pale Piercer’. The final room of the top floor reveals a chamber of long dead and deflated humanoid bodies, in various stages of decay. One victim, Yesha Faulkin, is discovered by the champions to still be alive. A local sage of little renown, Yesha reveals she was out researching the location when she was caught by the vampire spawn. Behnam advises that the woman’s time is short, and she is beyond his ability to save. The group decide to keep the sage company in her final hours, before peacefully ending her suffering, but before they do, Yesha tells her she has heard the spawn talk of their master, an ancient vampire named Gulthias, who was supposedly slain long ago. She advises that Gulthias was said to worship a dragon myth named Ashardalon. According to legend, Ashardalon was driven off this plane by someone called Dydd, but Gulthias is a fanatic who believes he can bring his ‘master’ back using a necromantic power source deep in the spire’s core. With more information on the spire’s master, the five venture down into the next level of tower.

While the next level of the spire is in much better repair, it is equally infested with undead and deadly traps. Malius triggers one such trap and finds himself ejected out of the spire through a razor-lined chute, luckily feather falling to safety. The rest of the group discover a massive tapestry depicting large, horned, red-skinned humanoids in the foreground and brass towers in the background suggesting a massive city in an inferno. High above them an incredibly large red dragon is depicted flying through the fiery sky. The center of this level is dedicated to a hall of honor, containing over a dozen ornate sarcophagi. The champions catalogue the various different types and decorations of the sarcophagi, but as they attempt to enter the next chamber, several undead are released upon them. The heroes fight valiantly against a mummy with a jackal headed mask and three nightmarish spectres. While the five adventurers are victorious, the combat leaves them literally drained of their life force by the spectres. Albert advises they seek out a cleric to remove the effects of the combat before the result are permanent. After a brief discussion, Albert agrees to teleport the group to the city of Whitethrone in Irrisen so they can lick their wounds before they continue through the spire.

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After Albert casts his spell, the heroes appear in the frozen city of Whitethrone, immediately struck by the bitter cold. The five seek refuge in the same safe house that Albert used when he last visited, before setting back out to secure the resources they need for Behnam to restore them. They are able to retrieve what they need, but as they return to the safehouse they are ambushed by an ulfen bounty hunter and his snow leopard. Weakened and in an unfamiliar land, the champions are outclassed, defeated and captured, with the exclusion of Albert who evade capture using his magic. The rest of the group are carried to the home of one of the Jadwiga by a patrol of ice trolls, with their wizard ally persuing through the skies. As the rest of the group are drugged and imprisoned, Albert approaches the owner of the house, a cruel winter witch and requests she releases his allies. The witch refuses the request, stating she has use for such individuals, but agrees to let Albert leave out of ‘recognition’ of his position. Albert conjures an extra dimensional space and retreats inside to prepare to help his fellow champions. The next day the group awake in their cells along with another prisoner, the brother of the Jadwiga they are imprisoned by. The brother of the witch explains that he is a political prisoner for not agreeing with his sister and her cause, but before he explains further they are joined by Albert, once again using his transportation magic. With all of the group together, they break out of their prison and make short work of the icy constructs guarding them. As they breach the house above, the champions are set upon by the witch and her bloodthirsty bodyguard, but having been able to use their newly gained resources to regain their strength, they make short work of the pair. Leaving the unconscious bodies to the brothers, the adventurers agree to leave Whitethrone immediately and use Alberts magic to once again return to Nightfang Spire.

Following their return to the Spire, the heroes continue their descent through it’s cursed chambers. As they do so, they encounter a group of resident girallons. Thanks to Behnam’s diplomatic approach, the group are able to pass through the gorilla like creature’s residence without incident, even finding themselves accompanied by one of the girallons. Within the lower levels of the Spire, the champions are able to locate the key parts required to access the heart of the tower. However, in the process Malias is torn to shreds by a pack of mohrgs. It is only thanks to Behnam’s miraculous divine power which is able to bring Malias back from the brink before his soul departs.

With the key parts in hand, the group in able to breach the inner sanctum. Their arrival is heralded by an ambush as several undead assassins assault them. The profane assailants prove little match for the heroes and are soon put down. Finally within the center, the group are greeted by the sight of the profane, necrotic dragon heart that powers the entire construct. The vampire Gulthias greets their arrival, but curses them for their meddling. The vampire viciously engages them, but Albert counters with a powerful polymorph spell, twisting the once powerful vampires body into that of a humble sheep. In it’s weakened form, the necromancer is trivially put down. With the lord of the necropolis defeated, the heart quickly begins to crumble and Nightfang Spire with it. Albert transports the group to safety, and from their they are able to rejoin Kurgan and ‘The Skysentinel’ for the journey back to Absalom. Their return is bittersweet following the news of Eloranta’s demise, nevertheless, their recent reforming and success only increases the champions legacy.

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Stem

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