The party slows as it approaches the castle and gazes up at it in amazement. It stands upon a plateau nearly a hundred feet in height with a steep set of stairs leading up. Its graceful curves and fluted battlements are weirdly beautiful, the very summation of drow aesthetics. Many campfires with groups of goblins, ogres, and giants surround the base of the plateau.
"We are veiled," says Veracity, "but it still might look suspicious for us to just march up the stairs. Perhaps there is a more subtle approach?"
"Let's scout, just as we did with the arena," suggests Tebryn.
"You, me, and Hazen?" asks Igor. "Good idea."
In short order, the three rogues are all flying and invisible.
"We'll be waiting over in that courtyard," says Veracity.
"Right," says Tebryn's voice. "We'll be back, by and by."
The rogues rise to height of about thirty feet and fly up the staircase to the top of the plateau. None of Kurgoth's army notices them.
Across a clear area of open ground they see a mighty castle of dark stone. They stand at the base of a huge tower, perhaps a hundred feet across, which rises several hundred feet up to the cavern ceiling. The lower walls surrounding this tower stand easily sixty or seventy feet high. No windows can be seen at ground level, although narrow slits dot the walls in the upper half of this wall. A great staircase of gleaming dark stone winds up to the left around the Great Tower.
To the right stands a smaller, more slender tower, perhaps sixty feet across, also stretching to the cavern ceiling. The lower wall surrounding this tower is only about forty feet tall. Spike-like battlements surround the edge of it. No windows appear in the lower walls of the Lesser Tower.
Above the first level, the walls of both towers are dotted with narrow slit-like windows, six inches wide at most. Some of the windows seem to be covered with iron shutters.
Between the two towers arch three narrow bridges, high over head.
Even farther to the right, a great stalactite, the South Column, descends next to the Lesser Tower. This appears to have been hollowed out, as it, too, is dotted with narrow windows, and has a bridge stretching to the Lesser Tower.
"Let's fly left and see where this staircase goes," suggests Tebryn.
The scouts follow the sweeping staircase and find that it goes all the way to the back of the castle, facing the cavern wall, where it ends at a set of large double doors, opening into the second level of the castle. But, down below a short stairway leads up to a postern gate entering into the ground floor.
"Interesting," says Igor. "Two obvious doors. Let's fly up and see if there are other ways in."
As the rogues ascend, they can see three vrocks circling above the middle bridge between the Greater and Lesser Towers. That bridge seems to be open, with landings and doors at either end.
The other two bridges between those towers are covered.
At the very bottom of the South Column six wide windows gape. Above that level, a covered walkway connects the stalactite to the Lesser Column.
"This looks promising," says Hazen. He flies up to the windows, peers in, and then returns. "They're all barred with iron bars, though."
"Let's go and report," says Tebryn. "Looks like we have a number of options."
The rogues quickly return to the courtyard Veracity had designated and land next to their companions.
"Well?" says Veracity. "What'd you find?"
"Two doors," says Tebryn. "A big one entering on the second level and a smaller one entering on the ground floor."
"And a room at the very end of a stalactite," says Igor. "With windows wide enough for us to get into - if we remove the bars." He pulls out a very sharp looking dagger. "I've been wanting to use this longtooth. We should be able to cut through the stone at the ends of a bar and remove them. And if we're careful, we can cut the stone in such a way that we can put the bars back in place and you won't be able to tell they're loose, from the inside."
Veracity laughs and pulls out a similar looking dagger. "You get that from Cyrril?" she asks. "I have one too. Good plan, Igor!"
"Good," says Tebryn. "This means we'll all need to by flying and invisible, though. Do we have the spells?"
Veracity pulls out a thin stick. "I have a wand of fly," she says.
Brianna pulls out another wand. "And I have one of invisibility," she adds.
The two ladies quickly cast the requisite spells and the whole party takes off.
We fly to the plateau. Veracity and Igor fly up to the windows to attempt to carve out some bars using their longtooth daggers.
Kress 24 Yol 23 Brianna 23 Igor 21 Hazen 15 Veracity 11 Tebryn 10
Igor starts cutting through the stone above one of the bars. One of the vrocks flies overhead. Veracity starts cutting through the stone above one of the bars. Another of the vrocks flies overhead. The third vrock flies within thirty feet. It looks quizzically in our direction and flies slowly past.
Igor pauses. Vrock 1 continues flying above. Veracity pauses. Vrock 2 pauses. Vrock 3 focuses his eyes on the two of us. He calls out in Abyssal "Over here! A couple of invisible creatures trying to get in! This is wierd! A Hezrou and a Fire Giant!"
Veracity (looking like a Hezrou) says in Abyssal "We found a way in! Go guard the main gate and make sure we aren't interrupted!"
The Vrock gulps and says "OK! Let's go, fellows!" The vrocks fly off.
The two invaders continue cutting and successfully remove the bars.
We look in and see a spiral staircase leading up. The room looks like an upside down turret.
We fly down to the others.
"Let's go!" says Veracity. "The password is 'Istava morthaum'"
Everybody flies up. The drow have no problems and the non-native speakers manage to make say it well enough as well.
"This looks like an observation hall," says Tebryn. "You could see things all over the city from here - if it weren't for all that smoke!"
|Copyright © 2005 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com>||
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.