Episode 25: The Bell Ringer
Having failed to sneak past the giant, one-eye-socketed skeleton and the flying, leathery chicken things, the party was forced to do battle. The skeleton, using its massive stone club rained down powerful blows on Magnus, knocking him to the ground. But through a combination of Yuna’s healing, Levani’s sorcerous protections and his own aptitude as a fighter, Magnus stood his ground and together with Ara and Keen harried the creature until with a deafening crack Levani’s lightning bolt detonated the skeleton’s massive skull, shredding several birds in the process and coating her companion in fine bone dust.
The clamour of combat drew the attention of several more of the strange birds, and soon a second
flock swarmed Magnus, one of them landing a vicious bite. It was then, as Magnus felt his muscles
stiffen and his flesh harden, that the party realized the creatures were cockatrices: monsters
with the power to turn living flesh into stone.
Suddenly the sculpture garden filled with eerily life-like statues of people, their faces contorted in fear and terror, made sense.
Frightening as they were, the foul creatures were no match for the party’s assaults, and as Keen, standing atop the motionless Magnus’s shoulders, dispatched another of them with his laughing rapier the remaining cockatrices fled. Through sheer physical superiority Magnus was able to shrug off the effects of the petrifying bite, and together the party made their way to the stone structure jutting up out of the ground, whence the cockatrices had emerged, seeking a way underground.
Slipping through a cracked arrow slit in the stone, they found the structure was actually a bell tower; the staircase that ringed the walls had been mostly destroyed, and the tower was little more than empty space descending unknowingly deep into the darkness below.
Using her divine form Yuna was able to fly up to the belfry at the very top of the structure, and found there a partially-petrified rope looped around a massive stone winch. By looping the 8" diameter rope off the loose end of the winch, its mechanisms destroyed, she was able to slowly release it and lower it down into the darkness. The rest of the party then struggled with how to reach the rope, they being stuck on a tiny outcropping of stone just inside the opening with an empty expanse of air between them and the rope as it snaked past.
Levani attempted to teleport herself to the rope, but was unable to gain purchase, and briefly found herself plumeting through darkness before teleporting herself back to safety.
Eventually, Keen managed to skewer the heavy rope with a crossbow bolt with his own more modest rope attached and reeled it in. Ara secured the bell rope using his immovable rod and more rope lashes. Their way down now secured, Magnus fashioned four harnesses out of the party’s remaining ropes and one by one, the party began their dangerous descent, all except Levani, who, still recovering from her near catastrophe, elected to watch and wait.
The party reached the bottom safely, though twice Yuna lost grip on her harness, once being caught one-handed by Keen, the halfing showing surprising strength, and the second time falling 60 feet to the bottom of the tower, where she landed atop the great metal bell that had crashed there, half-buried in the stone rubble of the staircase it had destroyed as it fell.
Levani reluctantly followed, and though there were tense moments she too alighted atop the rubble.
At the base of the tower the party found a portion of the south wall had been destroyed, and a slight cool breeze emanating from a space between the stones led them into a wide underground cavern. Tunnels descended further into the earth, twisting and turning, and in one they could just make out the faint purple-green glow of a bioluminescent moss.
There, in a pocket of cool air beneath the stone forest, battered, shaken and exhausted, the party regrouped and made ready for their journey into the Underdark.
Cyclops Skeleton’s Backstory Rating: Tragic, Unknown
Petrification: Narrowly avoided
Problem-Solving Rank: Unorthodox
Level 6 Damage Per Round Rating: Maxed
RP Rating: Awesome!