Session 25: The Tower of Screaming

The Tower of Screaming
Realizing that time was of the essence, the group considered the best way to get out of the room before it filled with sand.

Lee decided that trying to move the large stone slab was futile and refused to try.

Periodically, a bedroll would fly off a unicorn head, propelled, and sometimes even punctured, by a torrent of sand. Each time, Julious, Turenim, Moula, Atilius, Pippin, and Albrecht would rush to adjust and secure the bedroll and stop the ever-growing flood of sand.

After thirty minutes, Albrecht gathered everyone around him and cast Leomund's Tiny Hut, adjacent to the stone slab blocking the exit.

An hour later Atilius cast dimension door and teleported back to the stone circle with Lee. Turenim had suggested Atilius bring Pippin, but Lee insisted that he go first, but agreed to leave his gauntlets of ogre strength behind until they were all out. Once Lee was settled, Atilius returned to the stairwell chamber and cast misty step, returning to Albrecht's tiny hut.

After another hour, Atilius had recovered enough to cast dimension door again. This time he brought Pippin to the stone circle to join Lee. Meanwhile, Julious used wild shape to transform to a squirrel and was able to scramble over and around the stone slab to join them outside. Then Atilius returned to the stairwell chamber and cast misty step, returning to Albrecht's tiny hut once again.

There they waited for six hours, when Albrecht had to refresh Leomund's Tiny Hut.

The whole time, they continued to fight against the oncoming sand, climbing out of the hut's shelter, crawling over the sand, with the ceiling ever closer, and adjusting the bedrolls as necessary. But eventually the sand covered even the mouths of the unicorn statues and continued to push its way out, into the room, and the hut was completely covered.

After being covered in sand for over an hour, Atilius had rested enough, and was able to cast dimension door again, this time bring Moula to the stone circle. Then he cast misty step, and returned to Turenim and Albrecht.

It wasn't until after midnight that Atilius was able to cast dimension door again, this time bringing Turenim to the stone circle. Then he cast misty step, and returned to Albrecht.

At dawn, Atilius was able to cast dimension door a final time, retrieving Albrecht.

Disappointed that all their efforts failed to locate Sister Garaele, they decided to return to Phandalin.

• • •

After an hour of traveling through the northern stretches of the Sword Mountain foothills, they came across an ancient looking tower nestled in a small cleft at the base of a hill. Despite its ancient appearance, it looked to be in good shape.

The square tower looked to be three stories high and maybe fifty feet square. A dilapidated addition on the left side sat amid a few tangles of shrubs and stunted trees.

As they approached the main doors, rustling from within the shrubs alerted them to danger as a horde of blights moved to attack them.

Albrecht sighed, "Not these things again. These are like the blights I fought in Thundertree. Reidoth showed me how to destroy many of them with thunderwave."

Lee, Albrecht, Pippin, and Moula immediately started hacking and smashing them apart, but there were at least twenty of them. Atilius, hit them with firebolt. Finally, Julious told everyone to get back so he could cast thunderwave. The blast caught a bunch of the remaining blights, and Albrecht followed up with another thunderwave, and when Julious cast thunderwave a second time, the last of the blights had fallen, leaving the group with only minor scratches.

They could hear a faint wailing coming from inside the tower. It sounded like something large and angry screaming inside the tower.

Approaching the main doors, Julious found them to be locked, but Pippin was able to pick the lock for him.

The doors opened to a well-lit, roughly forty foot square room. Opposite of the main doors was a grand set of stairs that broke to both the left and right as they swept up to the next floor. Under the stairs were small rooms, one with a door partially open, revealing a privy.

The rest of the room was split between a large table near the door to a ruined kitchen, and a marble fireplace opposite the table. A few hooks along the walls held remnants of cloaks and surcoats. The light in this room came from a hanging candelabra, providing magical light.

The sound of screaming was coming from up the stairs, however the three sets of platemail armor that flanked the stairs presented a greater threat, as they few towards them, glowing red with some sort of inner fire.
Helmed Horrors in The Tower of Screaming
Lee and Pippin advanced and immediately found the helmed horrors extremely durable and resistant. Pippin felt their power, as one connected with a long sword. Moula quickly abandoned her staff, and pelted the armor with kicks. Albrecht had luck hitting with his rapier. Turenim cast healing word on Pippin.

As they regrouped, Lee swung brutally with Talon, sending the first horror crashing to the stone floor. Albrecht and Pippin poked at the second enemy, and were both struck back for their efforts. Atilius blasted it with witch bolt, and Lee dealt another mighty blow, finishing the second horror.

The last horror continued its assault on Albrecht, forcing him to cast healing word on himself. Julious tried to use poison spray, but to no effect. Turenim cast cure wounds on Albrecht. Finally Lee landed yet another crushing strike, destroying the last of the horrors.

As the group did a quick search of the room, checking the kitchen table, the fireplace, and the privy behind the second door, Pippin searched the motionless suits of armor.

The stairs led to another brightly lit forty foot square room. Between the two sets of winding stairs was a large stone statue of a demon with long arms. Another marble fireplace sat on the west wall and a large altar of black marble was on the south wall, opposite the stairs. On the floor were the skeletal remains of a horse, chained to the altar. It was partially blocked by a few rows of wooden benches facing the altar.

Between the two flights of stairs was a ladder leading to a closed metal hatch in the ceiling. The screams seemed to be coming from beyond that hatch.
Stone Golem in The Tower of Screaming
As they entered the room they noticed that the statue moved slightly, and then turned to attack. Lee immediately swung Talon twice, digging deep into the golem's stone. Moula pelted the stone with her fists. Atilius hit it with magic missile. Julious cast poison spray to no effect. Turenim cast spiritual weapon, as well as bless on Moula, Lee, and himself.

The stone golem smashed Lee hard with one of its rock fists, and Lee retaliated with two more hard strikes from Talon. Moula, Albrecht, Atilius, and Pippin all managed to land minor hits against the large construct before it slammed both its fists into Lee, dropping the ranger. Turenim smashed the golem with his spiritual weapon, and used preserve life to revive Lee.

Lee rose and swung Talon again, bringing the stone golem crashing to the floor. Immediately the screaming stopped and the tower fell silent.

They looked around and discovered that the skeleton was that of a unicorn. Turenim surmised that it must have been part of some dark ritual.

Julious climbed the ladder to the hatch and found that it was heavy with no visible cracks. Pippin climbed up and wedged the hatch open, just a crack, with a piton. Julious used shape shift to transform into an ant.

As an ant, Julious crawled through the crack and saw that the hatch opened to another forty foot square room, divided in half by a thick curtain. The area was dimly lit by recessed ceiling light. Destroyed furniture and other belongings lay in tiny pieces of scrap wood, cloth, and hints of bone around the room. He crawled to the curtain and started to climb the thick fabric.

Downstairs, they heard a thump and a quick gasp from Julious. They rushed up.

As soon as they stepped up from the hatch, with Lee coming up first, they saw a body lying in the center of the room, the drained husk of Julious; withered flesh barely attached to his skeletal frame underneath. Then, what looked like a large muscular demon emerged from behind the curtain. In their mind, they heard a demonic voice saying, “Let me out now, or die,” as it stomped directly towards them. They were all taken aback by the powerful stench of the beast.
Hezrou Demon in The Tower of Screaming
Lee rushed forward and slashed the demon deep with two mighty swings of Talon. Albrecht rushed up behind him, piercing deep with Umbro, especially eager to kill the demon. The hezrou clawed at Lee, but failed to penetrate the ranger's breastplate. The stench was too much for Pippin, and he retreated back down the ladder and barfed, uncontrollably.

Atilius noticed that the shadows in the room were elongating and moving on their own as if they were alive. He cast scorching ray at three of the moving shadows, causing them to quiver slightly. Turenim cast daylight, causing the shadows to temporarily retreat to the corners of the room in an attempt to escape. But they quickly regrouped, swirling around the two casters. Both of them were struck by the shadows, and they could feel the strength drain out of them.

Lee dug deep into the demon once again, hacking Talon back and forth into the its hide. Atilius cast haste on Lee. This time the demon sunk his claws and his teeth into Lee, and the old ranger fell.

Turenim raised Lightbringer and shouted at the shadows, "In the name of the Lightbringer, be gone and trouble this place no more!" All six of the shadows burst, like a puff of gas, and dissipated. Then Turenim revived Lee with healing word.

Albrecht, eager to land the death strike, struck the demon again. Lee, barely standing, struck the demon once again, with less force than previously. Moula managed to connect with her fists a couple of times. Atilius cast lightning bolt on the demon, but it seemed to shrug off the lightning's power.

The demon lurched forward and sank its teeth into Lee again, causing the ranger to go limp once more. Turenim cast healing word on Lee, but the ranger was still motionless. Raising Lightbringer once more, Turenim struck the fiend desperately. Lightbringer flashed brightly as it connected with the demon's flesh, and it fell, moving no more.

Turenim cast gentle repose and Julious, and then quickly bandaged Lee's wounds, reviving the ranger, and then moved on to everyone else's wounds. As soon as Lee could stand, he went downstairs and checked on Pippin, who was feeling better.

Pippin came up and surveyed the scene. He noticed there were coins scattered around the room. He gathered them together and gave them to Moula.

They found a ladder on this floor as well, this one leading to a much smaller hatch, just barely wide enough for a large man to fit through. It was locked, but Pippin was able to to pick it open.

They climbed through the hatch and found themselves on a  roof with a parapet, overlooking the small valley in the midst of the Sword Mountains.

Returning down, and bringing Julious down to second floor, they pondered the scene of the unicorn skeleton chained to the altar, wondering what they should do next with it and with Julious.

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