The Twisted Rune Sends Its Regards

October 8, 2017
Still the 5th day of Uktar 1375 Both vampires missed with their grapple attempts, but in her weakened state Kiira decided to withdraw and join her friends on the other side. She cast freedom of movement, turned around, and bolted for the portal. Both attacks of opportunity from the undead monks had missed, but, unfortunately for the warrior-priestess, she had triggered the traps that Halaster had set.

     Kiira was instantly feebleminded and levitated 10 feet off the ground [rolled a natural 1 twice], but she was able to make her save against the temporal stasis. With only her survival instincts to rely upon, Kiira used what little intellect she had left to make her Bigby's grasping hand grapple herself and have it push her through the portal.

     At this point Rokh was already making preparations to go back and rescue Kiira, so he was quite relieved when the dwarf showed up, albeit with a blank stare. He cast heal and used a scroll of greater restoration on her, and Kiira was back to her old grumpy self in no time. However, before he started healing Kiira, Rokh had felt a presence slip by, possibly headed into the portal. This revelation, along with the fact that the two vampire shadowdancers had returned, forced Seth and Anya to rethink the group's strategy.

     The tiefling duo convinced the party to postpone their current plans and to head back to the Runestone Level immediately, before the vampires could gather enough rubble to block the portal from the other side. Anee also pointed out that it would not be impossible (but still extremely difficult) for any high-level arcane caster to attempt to activate the Runestone even without Halaster's rune tiles. So even if they had the tiles with them, the control panel is not a hundred percent secure without one of them guarding it.

October 22, 2017

     The party made their preparations to return to the Runestone Level—a few rounds for blindsightlife's grace and mage armor were all they could afford to spend on buffing. Seth discussed with Keli the possibility of using her shadowstaff of Gorothir to summon a nightcrawler nightshade to find the vampires via tremorsense or, if they become truly desperate, to use it to collapse the ceiling. This plan carried a lot of risks, of course, the most dangerous being the collapse of the entire lowermost level of Undermountain. Seth asked Kiira to take note of their approximate depth in order to re-assess this plan later.

     As before, everyone except the two clerics squeezed inside the portable hole. Rokh entered the portal first, warhammer in hand and liquid sun ready to be poured out of his chalice of Amaunator. But as Lady Luck would have it, the Tymoran failed his saving throw against the temporal stasis trap. Kiira made all of her saving throws (just barely) and used her Bigby's grasping hand to grab the aasimar out of the trap. She then opened the portable hole and let the rest of the party out. Keli cast greater dispel magic on Rokh to remove the temporal stasis

     But just as everyone was about to get ready to move out, a horrid wilting spell was cast on their area. Anya immediately cast wall of stone within the entryway to the cavern, but it wasn't high enough to block the entire passage. Seth moved beside the wall and hid, ready to ambush anyone who attempted to climb over. Rokh and Kiira were assisted by their cohorts with putting on their suits of armor. Keli turned invisible and readied her action to blast away any enemy she spots. Just then a thick fog began to pour over the wall of stone. 

     Anya continued to convince Keli to summon the nightcrawler but Anee was against it—the archivist believed that there was no teleport cage there and she's worried that breaching the walls could destroy the level's natural anti-teleportation properties. Anya argued the the ceiling was being continuously being chipped away by the discharges anyway, so if it had its own natural magic barrier, then it had already been breached. Anee pointed out that that's probably how the Twisted Rune was able to gain access, but the seer countered that they didn't need to build a portal if that were the case. (Yes, the NPCs were the ones debating the plan since they're the party members with the highest Intelligence scores.)

     Anya sealed the upper section of the wall with another wall of stone. It would take 2 full minutes for the clerics to don their armors, plus a few more rounds to cast more of their buff spells. Seth's pet shadow, Steve, scouted within the immediate vicinity but reported no enemies could be seen, just a thick fog. 

     As soon as the PCs were done buffing themselves up, Anya cast Otiluke's resilient sphere in case herself and the two other squishy cohorts needed a secure space. Keli used disintegrate to create a hole on the wall of stone while the clerics prepared to rush out and engage whoever was waiting on the other side. But after one agonizing minute of waiting, the undead did not make their move.

     At this point Keli was so eager to blast a vampire that she tried to convince Rokh and Kiira to step out and act as bait, but the two were too cautious. But Kiira sensed an undead presence behind the party, near the portal. It was inside a wall, which means that it's incorporeal (and probably not one of the vampires).

     Keli disintegrated the section of the wall where the creature was hiding while Anya and Kendor readied their glitterdust spells. It was a shadow, one of the vampire shadowdancers' companions, no doubt. Steve the shadow engaged it even though the two incorporeal creatures would not be able to inflict any damage on one another. And while the party was busy, the two vampires rushed inside and tried to attack Anee and Kendor, then disappeared back quickly into the fog cloud.

Featured Image: Vampire Cutthroat from Magic: The Gathering - Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast

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