Chapter 6 - The Red Wizard of Thay (1359DR, 20th-21st Flamerule)
Colatto reached the top of the tower almost before we had begun the ascent.
Shifting back to his human form he went in from the walkway from which
the mage had launched his initial attack, into the tower itself. A stone
column in the centre of the tower supported a set of stairs leading down...
Finding himself in an old study he arrived in time to spot a red-haired
man casting a spell, presumably another symbol of power, onto the trap
door that led up from the lower levels. An well-aimed dagger both disrupted
the casting and drew the mage's attention to Colatto's presence.
By then Bazil had scaled the tower walls; invisible, and with his Derro
crossbow readied, he stole in after Colatto. The enraged mage dropped
the illusions which hide his true form, that of one of the infamous Red
Wizards of Thay, and turned on Colatto. Instead of attacking, the mage
calmly stood his ground as Colatto moved in, 'Sarth' in one hand and a
dagger in another. Colatto felt movements in the air around him and quickly
decided to slash at them with his knife, making solid contact with an
unseen presence. It was now that the mage made his move, using his magic
in an attempt to overwhelm his enemy's will, so he would let him leave.
Colatto was made of sterner stuff then the wizard suspected and was able
to throw off the suggestion without difficulty.
Below, Moneetha, Primrose and myself had reached the top of the stairs,
unfortunately the staircase did not run the length of the tower and we
had to look for another one to continue our ascent. The interior of the
tower was unlit but I called upon Silvanus to dispel the darkness with
a miracle of light. What was revealed was a straight corridor leading
into darkness, lined with decaying tapestries. Upstairs Bazil reached
Colatto and the mage in time to see the latter's unseen bodyguards, a
group of animated skeletons - revealed as they attacked on our companion
with antique shortswords. Quickly Bazil snapped of two shots from his
crossbow, both bolts struck the mage, both were tipped with drow sleeping
poison but the Red Wizard was able to fight off their effects. Colatto
surged through the skeletons to reach their master only to have Sarth
deflected off a magical aura that protected the mage. Now Colatto found
he was set upon from all sides and was hard pressed to defend himself.
By this time Primrose and Moneetha had surged ahead to find a new staircase.
They had barely gone thirty feet when the tapestries were thrown aside
by another group of skeletons waiting in what appeared to have once been
sleeping quarters. Above, a determined Colatto continued to press the
attack on the mage and, despite the skeletons attacking from his flanks
and rear, a few slashes with his dagger got through the wizard's defences
but Sarth was turned aside again and again. From his elevated position
on the stairs leading to the walkway Bazil tried to line up for two more
shots but was unwilling to risk hitting Colatto by mistake...
Moneetha called upon the divine powers of Tyr to keep the skeletons at
bay but they were blocking up the narrow corridor that was the only route
to our friends. Calling for Primrose and Moneetha to take cover in one
of the side chambers I called upon Silvanus to give me fire with which
to purge the abominations from the face of the Realms. After turning a
blind eye to the Baelnorn in The Vale of Lost Voices it was gratifying
to watch the skeletons being reduced to ashes. Moneetha, Primrose, Amber,
who had now joined up with us, and her faithful onyx-dog 'Dwindar' rushed
down the corridor, eager to link up with our missing companions. I followed
on a few paces behind and could hear Baldric coming up the stairs after
us. In the study the Red-Wizard had taken advantage of the confused melee
to cast a pair of spells. The first appeared to have no immediate effect
but the second was a swarm of bolts of magical energy which he directed
at both Bazil and, the seriously injured, Colatto. A few seconds latter
Colatto was brought down by the weight of his injuries, it was down to
Bazil to face the wizard alone until the rest of us could get there....
Bazil rose to the occasion and fired off two more drugged bolts only
to have them stopped by the enchantment of proof against missiles that
the mage had added to the other protective auras about him. Quickly the
halfling drew a pair of short-swords and moved to go toe-to-toe with his
enemy only to have the mage's skeletal defenders joined by an equal number
of battleaxe wielding gnolls! To Bazil's surprise, and no doubt relief,
the gnolls attacked not him but the skeletons. Unseen by all Faergil had
reconsidered his exit from the field of battle and, employing spells of
invisibility and flight had entered the tower from the top. Seeing his
friends' struggle, but injured and low on spells, he had employed one
of the few he had left to summon the gnolls to fight for him. No longer
having to worry about the skeletons Bazil pressed his attack on the mage,
the two trading blows with sword and staff. While he made some headway
with one of his short-swords his enchanted blade, Kithril, seemed unable
to touch the mage. It was then that the copper-piece dropped for Bazil,
one of the spells that protected the mage rendered him immune to magical
or enchanted weapons!
Down below luck was not on our side as we found that this second staircase
didn't go high enough either ending on a landing. The final ascent into
the wizard's study where Bazil fought for his own and Colatto's life had
once been up a ladder and through a trap door but the ladder had rotted
away with time. Putting my height to good use I quickly boosted Amber
up to the trap door. As she flipped it open Amber laid eyes on the unconscious
form of Colatto, she quickly manhandled him through the hole and down
to Baldric who was able to heal his life-threatening wounds. Eager to
get as many of us as possible, as quickly as possible through the small
trap door I called up to Amber to dismiss Dwindar so Moneetha could pass
the onyx figurine which was his link to this plane up to her. Meanwhile
I called upon the powers of Silvanus one more time to shed my half-dragon
form and become a small, climbing lizard.
Battling for his life, Bazil quickly re-sheathed Kithril and produced
a dagger but it was too late and the wizard brought him down with another
swarm of magical darts. At the sight of her dear friend being struck down
Amber saw red. Forgetting about Dwindar she hurled herself at the mage.
If the Red Wizard though he would be protected by his layers of warding
spells he was in for a shock as it was then that Faergil unleashed another
of his rapidly diminishing spells and dispelled both the Wizards Ghostly
Armour and his protection from Magical Weaponry!
Two mighty blows from Amber brought the wizard crashing down to his knees
but he was not out of tricks yet and, with a short invocation, teleported
away. By now Both myself and the nimble Primrose had made it into the
room and, quickly returning to my true form I was able to revive Bazil
with a miracle of healing. As Baldric and Moneetha helped the injured
Colatto and themselves up into the study the rest of us surveyed the scene
of the battle. Three tomes had been removed from one of the bookshelves
and lay open beside a reading table that had been knocked over during
the fight. We suspected that these had been the mage's objective but could
not read them because they were in Thorass - old-common, a language none
of us were familiar with. Faergil told us that he had detected magical
energies from behind a door and was concerned that the mage had not teleported
far. As he went to open the door I realised that I had left my staff behind
when I had changed form. The only weapons that were left to me were my
own taloned hands and the idea of rending flesh and bone with them was
something I didn't find appealing. Luckily Amber produced an oaken club
from her belt and offered it to me.
Behind the door was not a vengeful wizard but a small cupboard. The magical
aura Faergil had detected came from a rotting leather satchel containing
a number of potions. Despite two of our number being seriously injured
we felt it would not be wise to stay in the tower overnight and headed
back to the orc camp. On our way back Baldric investigated the sleeping
chambers from which the skeletons had emerged and found evidence that
the original inhabitants had been murdered in their sleep, like the castle
another bloody reminder of man's history in the Lost-Dale...
Back at the camp it was decided that we would head east, pressing on
for the few miles to the edge of Cormantor before making camp for the
night. I decided that I would leave a Harper mark on the old cottage in
which the wizard's tent was pitched to warn of the danger it posed only
to discover that the tent gone. Reading the tracks about it Amber and
Colatto agreed that the wizard had appeared nearby, taken down his tent
and teleported away again. Secretly I wasn't displeased with the way things
had turned out, none of us were dead and the wizard seemed to have been
thwarted in doing whatever he had come to do. Despite his necromantic
tendencies I had harboured no burning desire to kill the man unless it
had been absolutely nessary.
It was nightful by the time we reached the eves of the great forest and
Amber quickly found us an excellent campsite. Amber and myself took watch
that night, unusually I had avoided any serious injury that day and, while
she was badly hurt Amber was stubborn enough not to be dissuaded from
taking a watch. I found it refreshing to body and soul to be surrounded
by a world unsullied by the hand of man again, and the new day found me
in good humour. Under the warmth of a summer sun, the morning was spent
in study and prayer. As noon approached Colatto cast a spell which allowed
him to translate the books we had taken from the tower. They had been
written by one "Vangta the Bold", who described himself as the advisor
and court mage to "The Dusk Lord", the Ruler of Sessrendale. They were
notes and strategies for summoning and making deals with creatures from
the lower planes, something we knew the drow were interested in. Colatto
burnt the books to stop them from falling into the wrong hands but when
I heard this I could not help but be concerned; surely the drow and the
Red Wizards knew all about such practices already so why had they been
interested in the books? Could there have been something else in them
we hadn't discovered something we might need to know in the future? Bazil
and Faergil bent their minds, and taste buds, to the task of identifying
the potions from the tower. A little after noon, once Baldric and myself
had done what we could for our companions' injuries, we set off through
the forest. The trees were far enough apart for us to ride for the time
being and close enough together to shade us from the summer sun. By Colatto's
calculation it would, baring any unforeseen problems, take us a day and
a half to reach the source of the Deeping Stream and our long delayed
meeting with Azagartha Nimune....
I used the following references:
Volos Guide to the Dalelands: Information on Sessrendale
Forgotten Realms box sets (both past and present): General information
on the Dalelands.
Dreams of the Red Wizards: Information on the Wizards of Thay, as well
as some nifty spells...
The fight with the Red Wizard proved difficult to run. Roy was very
efficient at making the mage's life as difficult as possible, and mages
never fair well in melee. Fortunately for the Wizard he had more than
a few tricks up his sleeve.
The skeletons the other characters met were just normal undead. Even at
their level you don't need spectres and vampires to create an interesting
encounter. Anyway, they served the purpose of slowing down the cavalry
and putting the pressure on Collato and Bazil.
Faergil turned up just in time with a Monster Summoning. The others had
a trapdoor with no ladder to contend with. I knew that once every else
got involved the fight would be over. The Wizard didn't hang around to
The characters were lucky to get out of the Tower and Keep before darkness
fell. Both places were haunted and would have made for an ugly (and aging)
Return to The Journey...