Shields of the Vale

Which Lich is witch

The hunt for Vlaa'kith's phylactery begins

The Shields investigated the dragon hoards and after collecting the choicest loot moved back to the scrying room.
Berradin activated the screen by placing his mostly-dead hand upon the screen. He scryed the neighbouring rooms finding most of them empty. He scryed out farther checking on the duthka’gith training room and found that the half-gith/dragons were now equipping themselves for real battle. Adjacent to this hall were a room with a teleport circle and a room holding a manacled naked githyanki who was hanging from a hook by the handcuffs.
Berradin scryed in the chambers past Xam’kras’s rooms finding multiple rooms filled with 9 regeneration chambers each. Past those chambers was a temple consecrated to Tiamat filled with an obsidian dragon with five heads. Each head had a pair of jewelled eyes that matched the colour of a corresponding chromatic dragon.
Berradin went in for a closer look and the dragon heads turned to face him. They began to move towards the screen and Dinnan responded by throwing his dagger at the screen, causing it to explode. Berradin’s necrotic hand exploded leaving him with a cauterised necrotic-corrupted stump.
The Shields stealth team roamed ahead of the team, with Mal opening doors for them.
The Shields moved through each room but they did not encounter anyone. Shanna found their tracks leading towards the training hall/hanging dreadnought room. The training hall was also empty. The group investigated the teleport room and the naked prisoner.
The teleport circle lead to somewhere outside the fortress. The naked prisoner’s name was Ell’v, a member of the Sha’sal khou, and the mole that General Vetch’rr had sent ahead of the Shields.
He told the group that the Lich’s followers had most likely headed to the second floor, the entrance of which was further into the fortress in the direction which they were heading.
Ellv offered to take the tele-circle to see where it went. He then psi-messaged Shanna that he was at the Gith statue circle where they initially teleported from.
The Shields worked their way past the training hall and then entered a chamber filled with a sphere made out of Illithid skin. Inside the sphere was the animated bodies of all the githyanki who have had their souls absorbed by Vlaa’kith [all 666 of them]. The group squeezed past the sphere to the other end of the room where the door was made out of stitched skin and opened when within 5’ of Saran or Berradin.
The group continued through and were within another central chamber which had many doors and secret doors branching from it.
One door lead to a chamber filled with wall spikes that had githyanki and githzerai corpses skewered upon them, beyond that was a door leading to the personal treasure room of Vlaa’kith. Nesh and Berradin went that way.
Another corridor lead to a large cavernous room filled with over a 100 Githyanki female statues which all faced towards a central dais with a red crystal cffin in the shape of a dragon upon it.
The nearest statue was numbered with 156 and the coffin was empty. Mal and Flea worked out that each statue represented one of the previous Gith Queens and that the coffin was there to one day store the missing body of Gith, the original rebellion leader who freed their race from the Mindflayers and forged the alliance with Tiamat and her red dragons.
Shanna and Dinnan went opening the secret doors, finding an empty room which lead into another secret room which was free of the mind screams that had constantly filled their minds.
Saran had disappeared from the rest of the group.
Berradin and Nesh discovered a room full of horrors, Vlaa’kiths idea of valuable treasure was warped and horrific. Hanging from the ceiling were 3 cages. One was filled with the still living heads of Githzerai, one contained a demonic bird; a vrock that had been plucked of it’s feathers, the third contained a petite human female with blue hair.
Part 2.
Berradin began to question the female, who gave very vague answers to his queries. The rest of the group [sans Saran] had arrived and viewed Berradin levitating in front of the hanging cage. The Shields worked out that 3 burning braziers in the room were actually holding the essence of Greater Blackfire elementals, and that these elementals would be released if any of the cages were tampered with.
The female divulged that she was Aezenstar, the familiar of a dwarven wizard, whose armour and equipment had been found in the dragons’ hoards. She had been in the fortress for what felt like centuries.
Berradin saw that the arcane energies around the cage could be disrupted to not release the elementals but chose to use FlameShadow – a blackfire channelling device – to sever the connection and break open the cage.
The cage was engulfed in fire and darkness and once the darkness retreated the Shields could no longer see the female but Berradin once again had a right hand. It was as feminine as his own but slightly smaller and with painted nails. The bottom of the cage now held a 3-pawed pseudo-dragon – a cat-size version of dragonkind.
Aezenstar linked with Berradin and perched upon his shoulder while he came to his senses. Darkness now existed where once his pupils had been. Dark veins could be seen criss-crossing his flesh. The shields were concerned. Nesh took flameshadow to prevent any further corruption of their friend, under great protest from Berradin.
The Shields went through another secret door which lead to a spulchre containing a stone coffin with the image of a githyanki knight carved onto it’s lid. Dinnan detected a trap and disabled it and once the coffin was opened went to reach inside. Shanna spotted a second trap and reflexively snatched Dinnan’s hand back. Dinnan then went to diable the second trap. Thinking he was successful Dinnan reached in to move the golden plate inside and set off a necrotic wilting trap. Dinnan had his bag of holding in his hands which absorbed the damage meant for him but was destroyed in the exchange. The rest of the group were injured by the trap except for Aezenstar, who was consumed by the trap.
Berradin should have died from the trap but awoke refreshed and vital. Dark energy shifted over his skin and through his body. His own hand was now in place of the smaller, newer one. He radiated necrotic energy.
The group had to push on but they were worried for Berradin. Nesh refused to return Shadowflame to the wizard.
The Shields found a chamber through the mentally ‘quiet’ room which had a 10’ wide square shaft leading upwards. But Mal was knocked insensible by mind-shattering psionic energies within the chamber. Dinnan managed to remove her. The Shields pondered their next move.
In a secret room outside the ‘quiet’ room, Shanna attempted to communicate with the unquiet souls that rested within the fortress’s obsidian walls. They were, for the most part, full of pain and horror but there was a faint sense of hope now flowering as Vaa’kith’s end seemed possible. Shanna promised that the Shields would end Vlaa’kith and break the fortress, if the souls could just assist them.
Saran returned to the group cleaning her blade and covered in necrotic ichor. She seemed pleased with her ghastly work of culling the 666 animated dead. When she spotted Berradin her eyes narrowed and she purposefully moved towards him. She unbalanced him with a kick to the chest which knocked him on his back. She then drew her winter blade.
The other Shields grabbed her arms and pulled her away from Berradin while some of them helped Berradin to his feet. Saran heard the whole tale of what happened and stood down. She warned Berradin that he better not touch any of the Lich-Queen’s possessions or he would replace Vlaa’kith as the new lich of this place.
The Shields entered the mind-scream chamber and most of them proved susceptible to the psionic attack but those who were affected found that their minds were buffered by a layer of the trapped souls influence. They suffered images of past sufferings but they were not stunned.
Flea changed many of the Shields to spiders which climbed upon Shanna and then Shanna and Dinnan flew their ebony flys up the shaft to Susurrus’s second level. As they alighted in the entry room above three Tla’ikith [undead warriors] descended down to them from the ceiling above.
To be continued in one short week.

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Gehrigan

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