10 August 2017 @ 10:14 pm

Rise of Tiamat! Last time, the group negotiated with metallic dragons and earned their promise of support and cooperation with the Council of Waterdeep. The group takes a moment to ponder their choices.

Maldrake: We’re going to have to somehow destroy the treasure. That’s what we have to do.
DM: ‘Here’s your share… of nothing.’
Thalynmar: Melt it down into ballista bolts as we fire it into their hides.
Maldrake: You guys just see me leaving. ‘How are you broke?’ ‘Don’t worry about it.’
Raven: I cast Armageddon on the treasure hoard.
DM: All right, you cast the Ultima version of Armageddon, it kills everyone but you and Lord British.

Back they go to Waterdeep, on the back of the silver dragon. The DM piles on the flavor text as they see the desolation wrought by the cult beneath them.

DM: Soon enough the City of Splendors becomes visible in the distance.
Thalynmar: It’s on fire.
DM: It is not on fire.
Thalynmar: Yay!
DM: It is on water.
Lualyrr: It looks much better on fire.
Thalynmar: Be a bit more impressive if it was on fire.

They land on top of the palace, with Ontharr Frume and many other Order of the Gauntlet devotees awaiting them, They happily report that the dragons are joining in!

DM: “Come with me! We have much to talk about!” He claps you heartily on the back—
Lualyrr: “Ugh!”
DM: Not you. You wouldn’t survive.

He takes them off to an audience chamber. Maldrake harnesses the power of the Micro-Machine Man to explain, but Ontharr seems uninterested in it – and the group notices they have been separated from Krixxix.

DM: “The Council… or to be more specific, Taeryn Hornblade, received a message from an interesting source. A person named Iskander is apparently seeking to betray the Cult of the Dragon.” What was his name, Thalynmar?
Thalynmar: I’unno.
DM: A person named Iskander.
Lualyrr: Iskander.
DM: Iskander.
Maldrake and Thalynmar: Iskander..
DM: Iskander Iskander. “Seeking to betray the Cult of the Dragon and render unto us the Blue Dragon Mask. Or so his note said. Obviously, we were suspicious of this.” He reaches into his pouch and sets on the table in front of you a much-crumpled note.

Lualyrr tries to smooth the note, without much success. It reads much as Frumme described: the cultist offers to give them the mask if they rescue him from Xonthal’s Tower before his treachery is uncovered.

Lualyrr: “How convenient.” Can I have a Sense Motive on that shit?
Maldrake: On the letter?
Thalynmar: On the letter?
DM: “We agreed with you on that, and that is why we asked both our wizards and those of us with the magic of the gods on our side to conduct divinations on it.”
Eben: ‘I cast Scry.’
DM: “So far, everything has come back as quite sincere.”
Thalynmar: ‘Oy, this is kosher.’
DM: “We all received the indication that Iskander is quite on the level, and that the mask he speaks of is indeed the Blue Dragon Mask, and is in his possession.”

They establish that there are indeed five masks, one for each color, and Ontharr says the Council believes the potential reward is too great to turn down. But the divinations revealed something else!

DM: “Some time ago, probably long before he ever met you, Krixxix committed a rather serious crime.”
Lualyrr: “Oh wow.”
Eben: “I refuse to believe it.”
Lualyrr: “We would never believe that of Krixxix, oh no.”
DM: “But what you don’t understand is that whether through his own machinations or simply luck on his part, another was convicted and has been rotting in jail ever since.”
Lualyrr: “THAT we believe of him.”
Eben: Now we’ve gotta do Wife Swap. Oh wait, are we getting an NPC?
DM: No.
Eben: Well, we wouldn’t want one that’s been rotting in prison.
DM: ‘Here’s your urchin.’
Eben: He’s called a Bag of Holding with legs.
DM: That’s a mule. And that is his name.
Maldrake: “I assume he has been transported for trial.”
DM: “Yes. I am afraid that in light of this… we have overlooked all his previous transgressions, to the best of our ability. But this… is beyond the pale. I do not know what will become of this trial or what justice will be rendered upon him, but I must ask you to continue on without him for the nonce.”
Thalynmar: “He was no perfect soul, but he had his uses.”

The group demands the trial be played out for the benefit of the group, and speculate what crime it was – probably murdering someone who laughed at him with a thrown dagger.

Eben: Or maybe he wrote himself into someone else’s will.
Raven: He stole chips from Subway.
Thalynmar: He stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks! ‘Ya gotta burp, Krixxix!’
DM: Ontharr Frume casts a glance around at you all, and with a little smirk says, ‘Well, I WANT to say that you’re all taking this better than I had hoped, but I’ll be honest, I expected this.”

They all admit Krixxix was never quite a positive to the whole situation, and Ontharr offers them a period of rest. This they decline, and the group heads down to the Council chamber. King Melendrach stares blindly ahead in fury, fist trembling.

Thalynmar: Melendrach the Melancholy.
DM: He is now Melendrach the Livid. Most of those present rise when you enter.
Thalynmar: Oh, that’s nice of them.
Eben: Really? How have we come so far up in estimation over the space of one assignment?
Lualyrr: We ditched Krixxix.
Eben: We killed a couple dragon this time.
Thalynmar: Do we still have the heads with us, or were they taken from us?
Eben: I HOPE so.
DM: In fact the metallic dragons went so far as to cast spells of preservation on them so that they would not rot during the course of the journey. They are 100% okay with their chromatic brethren being made into trophy.

They slam the heads onto the table, earning applause for finally killing a dragon or two. King Melendrach grows only more upset as he examines the head, but Laeral Silverhand speaks first.

DM: “Welcome back, and first, may I offer the apologies of this Council. We have been striving to protect ourselves and this did harm to you.”
Thalynmar: “I’m confused as to how.”
DM: “No longer shall we simply send you out without means to return to us.”
Thalynmar: “That will be nice…”

Laeral explains they didn’t wish to have a teleport scroll risk getting in the enemies’ hands, but the PCs are simply so hard to defeat that the point is moot.

DM: “We have heard you have negotiated with the dragons for their aid.”
Thalynmar: “Aaaye.”
Eben: (suppressing laughter) Don’t start…

The PCs explain they bartered away the treasure, which somewhat dampens enthusiasm, and then hesitate to explain the rest. Do they call out the others in public? They decide to be straightforward.

Maldrake: “The gold dragon—“ What’s the gold dragon’s name?
DM: Prontathar.
Maldrake: “The gold dragon Pronthathar made a request of the elves. An apology from the highest—“
Lualyrr: “From the one who speaks for the elves. I assume, my lord, that is you.”
DM: King Melendrach surges to his feet. His hands clenching the table so tightly it seems not a drop of blood is in them. “What is this you tell me? First you deliver my son to me in chains and now you bind me in a promise of honor to dragonkind?!”
Maldrake: “I didn’t bind you in honor.”
Lualyrr: “We only convey what the dragons said. We did not promise them anything. We said that we could not guarantee anything from you.”
DM: “You have bound my honor by saying this. They shall have their apology… but you have won no friend in me this day.” He sits, his whole body shaking with rage.

Maldrake envisions a merry puppet session with the heads of the dragons to mock the elf-king, and then they relay the silver’s request. The silver is now named Blagothkus, apparently. Connerad Brawnanvil flatly refuses.

DM: “Lass, if we had to take down yer niece she was probably misbehaving anyway.”
Maldrake: Oh. Yep. Great. Taxi! Taxi! Carriage out of the chamber room, please.
Eben: Wow.
DM: Elia stares at him coldly, although it’s clear that since you made no guarantee you would get the apology from him, she isn’t going to rescind her vote. The allure of treasure is still sparkling somewhat in her veins.
Maldrake: I should just have a feeder going into her pocket from my money drawers. “Here you go. Here you go.”
DM: ‘Holy avengers, one gold more than you gave to the silver dragon, holy avengers, get ‘em while they’re hot!’

The question arises – how shall the dragons be distributed to aid the Council? The players openly collapse at the question, even as the DM flat-out tells them to use the assignations for political favor. Checks of all sorts ensue to judge the representatives, and Lualyrr immediately proposes shipping off the silver dragons to protect their great Treants and the Grandfather Tree. They move the brass to protect the cities of the Realms, and the bronze to mollify King Melendrach. The gem dragons, which are barely a thing, keep getting brought up.

DM: “By their very nature, they are not predisposed to take sides, and such interference WOULD be taking a side. They might be seen or heard from, perhaps one or two is running their own affairs…”
Thalynmar: (using a text-to-speech program) ‘Damn the gem dragons.’
DM: Do you have an intelligent weapon over there?!

Maldrake prepares for an inevitable encounter with gem dragons, while the rest consider disposing of the coper and the gold. Some rolls ensue, as Thalynmar determines that the dwarven people can survive well without draconic aid by bunkering down in the mountains.

Thalynmar: “Don’t worry about the dwarves, lads and lasses.”
DM: “…-can I be allowed to say that? Please! I recognize all yer contributions but I’m STILL the ambassador here!”
Thalynmar: “All right, all right.”
DM: “Ah, but the lad speaks truth. Much as we’d like ta have some dragons guarding our outer entrances, they’re going to be hard-pressed to take it to us, in battles beneath the mountains.”
Lualyrr; Sir Istval.
DM: You can give some to Sir Istval but I remind you, he’s already your biggest fan.
Thalynmar: Even bigger fan, yay!
DM: ‘I’m here to support you!’ No one else came. ‘Maybe we shouldn’t have gone all-out on that one faction’s rep, guys.’

Lualyrr asks who wants dragon help. Everyone does. They give consideration to loading the Harpers up with mischievous coppers, though Lord Neverember opines that raw dragon strength is better used where humans cannot supply it. Taeryn Hornblade asks for the golds!

Maldrake: I think when this whole thing is over, our characters need to slip away into legend. We won’t go back to the main town, we’re just gonna slide out.
Thalynmar: No… yeah.
DM: You guys are gonna slip away into Tiamat’s gullet.
Thalynmar: As long as they don’t Final Fantasy XIV us. “We can’t remember their fucking names!”

The golds are put onto defense of the major cities at large, leaving only the coppers. Once again, they seek an excuse to pass them to Sir Istval.

Lualyrr: Sir Istval really likes us anyway—
Lualyrr: Which faction is he with?
DM: He represents a lot of dudes, as you’ll recall. He wears many hats in this negotiation.
Thalynmar: Literally! It’s crazy!

They hash out a split, sending a few copper to aid the Harpers and the rest to… the mages? They were muttering, I can’t even tell. Laeral Silverhand pulls the discussion back to earlier matters.

DM: “Setting that aside, we are told you’ve already received word of the –“ (stopping in shock as Thalynmar unleashes an epic fart) You are BANISHED from the land! Four of you will be going. You are throw into a jail cell!
Raven: What the hell happened?
Thalynmar: Don’t worry about it…
DM: Thalynmar ruins everything!
Thalynmar: ‘Can we hurry this up, I gotta poop…’
Raven: Okay, so now I know what I missed, and I’m glad I’m here and not there.

They briefly restate the adventure parameters, and then Taeryn Hornblade stands to get their attention.

DM: “I should warn you! Xonthal’s Tower is a legendary place! Most wizards have heard of it, and those who haven’t, aren’t worth being called wizards!”
Thalynmar: A dejected wizard out of the room.
Eben: Awwwww.
DM: “Nope! Warlock! You got your magical power through blasphemous pacts.”
Eben: ‘DO not speak of blasphemy!’ I’ll use the staff as a microphone, all the mouths on the side of it will boom in as speakers.
DM: The tentacles burst out of it and form the word EVIL in midair.

The wizard tells them Xonthal started as an adventured, traveled the world, and kept company with extraplanar beings – elementals, even genies! His tower is surrounded by a hedge maze meant to keep people out.

Thalynmar: “All right, we need to go get some hedge clippers.”
DM: “It’s more complicated than that! Oh, you plebian dwarven fighter mind! This is why you’re not a wizard!”
Lualyrr: Well, yeah.
Thalynmar: I BRISTLE!
DM: “It’s going to take brains and cunning to get through! So you – just do whatever your comrades tell you.”
Eben: “So you’ll be coming with us?”
DM: “HA! I have business here.”
Eben: Well-played.
DM: “By the way. He might be a lich. I’m just saying.”
Eben: Oh. I thought you were telling us that Taeryn might be a lich.
Maldrake: He just says it every once in a while. ‘I’d like to remind everyone I am not a lich. I am a perfectly human person. I have ears… and a jaw…’

Taeryn tells them he’ll be performing the teleport himself, as he knows the tower’s location. Raven asks for rest, at which the DM reminds him they’ve had several long rests since their last battle. Eben gets really confused.

Eben: I don’t know where the NPC ends and you begin with this particular character.
DM: A little of column A, a little of column B.

Eben hits up the wizard for some ritual spells for his Pact of the Tome spellbook, which he gets. The Council discusses uninteresting things for a while, which the DM freely skips.

Maldrake: ‘We are short on our FANCY HATS!’
DM: ‘Go away, Barack.’
Thalynmar; Are we required to stand here while they do this?
DM: You’re part of the Council, it’s kind of relevant…
Thalynmar: I quietly shit myself.
Maldrake; I would love Barack in this… Barack changed a lot over the years, acquiring so many women.
Eben: I cast an illusion that we’re still here.
DM: What spell do you use?
Eben: Uh… Ill…lluuusssioooon….
DM: You’re full of shit.
Thalynmar: I am!
Maldrake: ‘The name’s Billy Dee Barack.’
DM: Aaaanyway, the Council adjourns, none too soon for you impatient non-caring adventurers who only look forward to your next kill.
Lualyrr: That’s not true, Thalynmar’s looking forward to his next poop.
Maldrake: I would like to be thrown out of the Council, Fresh-Prince style?
DM: You… find yourself with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air?
Maldrake: What IS my aunt and uncle? One’s a dragon, one’s an elf?
DM: One is Shredder, I remember that much,

Their awesome armor finally comes in and Maldrake dons his delightfully. Krixxix and especially his other characters are ruthlessly mocked. Thalynmar goes off for a quickie with the mistress.

DM: Let’s see here… where’s my Damage by Level and Severity table…
Thalynmar: Ha ha, what? Is that for me or for her?
DM: Uh, I need you to roll 18d10.
Thalynmar: That’s damage to her? Good lord.
DM: No, her to you. She’s in the mood.
Thalynmar: Whaaaaat?
DM: Your hips don’t survive.
Thalynmar: Apparently not. Well, she is thick.
DM: It’s under 90 damage, on average…
Thalynmar: I can survive that. ‘Best night of me life.’

The group bemoans their failure to collect even one of the endgame items, but the DM tells them the two Wyrmspeakers admit to having already returned their masks to the Cult leader. The game pauses for horrible song mixes, I don’t know why. Raven might be shopping. Taeryn Hornblade awaits them, and teleports them outside a village, beyond which rise a great hedge and a rising tower.

DM: At the edge of the village, a few people who are gathered around a tavern look up at the pop that heralds your displacement. A slight frown crosses a couple of their faces, but nonetheless they lift their hands in a greeting to you.

Determining sagaciously that the village is also named ‘Xonthal’s Tower’, they stand around gulping down cake for some reason.

Eben: That’s an awesome spell.
DM: It’s called Taeryn’s Cake and Teleport.

They pause to discuss the ungraceful way in which a game-house cat eats fingers when they have treats, and then Lualyrr greets the cake-eating villagers.

Eben: I rename this the Village of Cake.
DM: Reluctantly crouched at the starting line…

They put Lualyrr in a short skirt and long jacket, then try to find information. Not very hard.

DM: You find the village bard. He has Performance(spoken word).
Eben: Oh, I thought the village was locked up.
DM: No!
Eben: You said it was barred.

Laughter ensues!

DM: This guy gets it.
Thalynmar: Congratulations. You sunk to the DM’s level.
Maldrake: You have been demoted to DM-class. You have lost one level in being a decent human being.
DM: Jeez…

The sight of this motley and well-armed crew of adventurers makes the locals hush up, so the group asks them directly what they know of the tower. Diplomacy!

DM: “We don’t know anything about the tower. Just – just move along, and—“
Thalynmar: “Welp. Time to shake down some bastards.” (in an undertone) Someone stop meeeeeeee…
DM: You’re not Krixxix!
Thalynmar: Someone’s got to fill the gap!

Maldrake is suspicious of the village, thinking it part of the defense mechanism of the tower, while the locals mumble that there’s no reason to go lay waste to the tower.

Lualyrr: “Aww, we weren’t about to lay waste to it.”
DM: He looks skeptically from you to the three incredibly armed and armored warriors, to the guy bearing the staff of blatant evil, and then back to you.
Thalynmar: “Well, destroyin’ it’s not in the works, but if it’s… necessary, maybe…”

Lualyrr flings Persuasion at the NPCs, convincing the townsfolk that they’re here to help, and this unleashes a flood of rumors and gossip about the town. Strange doings! Dragons! Lights in the window at night! One old fellow treat them to a long diatribe about how people who go in don’t come out.

DM: “It’s probably Xonthal! He’s come back as a lich!”
Lualyrr: “We did kinda hear that…”
DM: “Well more likely, a lich is kinda a fantastic story, it’s probably one’a the genies in there, broke free from its confinement and just rampagin’ about. If you can put down that rogue genie, we’d appreciate it, but y’know, don’t say we didn’t warn ya if ya never come back out and yer souls wander restlessly through the wastes of oblivion for all time.”
Thalynmar: “Is that all?”
Lualyrr: “We’ve faced that before.”
DM: “Heh heh, he’s a hardass.”

They follow a path down to the maze, passing through the fence that keeps out kids and herd animals, and start into the tower grounds proper.

DM: You’re looking at 8-foot high hedge walls, over which you can easily see the tower. Seems like it should be a simple matter to just penetrate into the hedge maze and thereby reach the tower.
Thalynmar: “It’s never simple with wizards, is it.”
DM: Even as you say that, you glance over your shoulder to look for the town, and spot behind you – the tower. Turning around, you see it was not where it was a moment ago.
Raven: What do you mean by that?
Thalynmar: I fall over.
DM: Exactly what I said, Raven. What do you mean, what do I mean by that?!

They reach a clearing, from which 8 paths lead. A sundial stands in the middle, pointing towards the tower despite the fact that everyone else’s shadow is perfectly normal. Lulayrr immediately rolls Investigation.

DM: What are you investigating?
Lualyrr: The reason why the sundial is not pointing the correct way.
DM: Your first guess would be magic. That would also be your second and third guess.

Arcana tells them this effect is incredibly powerful and complex. They fool around with rocks, but can’t tease out a different shadow from anything but the sundial. They follow the direction of the shadow, taking the path that it points to, and after a short trip that curves around far enough to obscure their start or ending, they arrive – at an intersection with a sundial in the center.

Thalynmar: Wait a minute. Holy shit! Mind blown.
Raven: Does that sundial have my rock on it?
DM: There is not any of any of the marks you have made or attempts to mark your passage.
Raven: I’m gonna put two rocks on this one.

This one has two shadows, each pointing to a different intersection. Both of them are pointing to the tower somehow, thanks to tomfoolery. Maldrake rolls a natural 1 on Investigation and promptly flies into space. They pick the marked path that isn’t the one they took before, as far as they know.

DM: Forward you head, and you emerge from the path into an open area far larger than any you expected to encounter in the maze garden. It must be 90 feet across, with its far side over 150 feet away. Looks like a boulder-strewn passage with a large pond to one size and a fenced vegetable garden and oversized cottage on the other. Sheep graze in the pasture, tended by a pair of cyclopes. None of them are moving, all of them appear frozen in time. You stand, still in the path, not quite entered into this area yet, observing the scene.

Checks reveal the scene appears quite real. Raven tries to back up to the sundial, but comes right back around to the pastoral scene once again. Maldrake puts a foot into the pasture proper.

DM: As soon as you put your foot in, the creatures all spring to life.
Maldrake: Pull my foot back!
DM: It’s too late! The sheep are grazing—
Maldrake: I’m just pulling my foot back. Did it get chopped off?
DM: Yes. The cyclopes chat idly with each other. One of them glances up.
Lualyrr: “Hello!”
Eben: They speak Giant, do they not?

The DM promptly mimes them playing rock-paper-scissors with each other, with one losing.

DM: The cyclops who threw scissors rises, and advances over to you. About twenty feet away, he stops—
Lualyrr: (resignedly) Picks up a boulder.
DM: Picks up a boulder.
Eben: Better than a sheep.
Thalynmar: True, a lot less messier.
DM: Turns, glances over his shoulder to make sure you all are watching, then heaves the boulder with a mighty shotput throw. It flies a full hundred feet, then rolls and bounces twenty feet more.
All: (applauding)
DM: They both turn and look at you.
Eben: ‘Hunnerd gold.’

The cyclops looks at them expectantly, but the players abruptly discover the boulders here are massive and weigh no less than 500 pounds. Lualyrr befriends a sheep for some reason, while the others try to find rules on lifting, dragging, and throwing.

Lualyrr: I cast Tongues on myself. “What are we expected to do, gentlemen?”
DM: You speak in the tongues-magic, and the cyclops looks at you in mild surprise. “Your boulder must fly farther than mine. You can’t drag it. You can’t carry it. It has to be hurled or fly at least part of the way.”
Eben: I could cast Tenser’s Floating Disc..

Lualyrr proposes dominating the other cyclops, while Maldrake suggests hurling the rock through a Dimension Door. The discussion gets strange.

DM: You can’t lift a thousand pounds with Cantrip.
Maldrake: Oh they’re a THOUSAND pounds now!

Eben uses a magic spell of some sort, I’m not sure what, to proper the boulder past the cyclops’ thrown one. The cyclopes nod, and the boulder the one hurled splits in half to reveal a topaz gemstone.

Lualyrr: “Are we allowed passage then, gentlemen?” Since I still have my Tongues spell up.
DM: “You did the job. Good work.” He motions you on to the exit of the maze at the far end of the field.
Lualyrr: “Are you keeping the gem?”
DM: “Stone takes you out. It is your ticket.”
Lualyrr: ‘I’ve got a golden ticket!’
DM: The other one peers to the side. ‘No ticket…’
Eben: What are their names? I wanna read them…
Lualyrr: Oompa and Loompa.
DM: Sean and Harrison.

They ask the giants what’s next, but all they can do is shrug. Scooping up the topaz, the group heads back into the hedge path – and step around to a sundial! Same appearance but with no markings they might have left behind, no slot for the gemstones, no nothing. The shadows still point in two directions. They pile rocks on the sundial, pick a direction, and head into the maze.

DM: You find yourself facing a placid pond that fills the center of this open space. A stout pagoda rises from a huge boulder that stands in the water like an island. There’s an arched bridge that crosses the pagoda to the water, and the red roof is held up by six sturdy pillars capped with carved fish. A human male wearing yellow silk robes embroidered with red and gold fish stands in the pagoda. You can hear exotic music being played on a stringed instrument. As you appear at the edge of the area, the robed figured bows to you, moves into the pagoda, and sits down on a boulder where it protrudes through the floor of the pagoda. Folds his hands, bows his head.

The group immediately begins checking out their environment for clues or suspicious signs, being most mindful of the pond. It is apparently so deep a dwarf could scream for hours while falling, until he realized he couldn’t scream underwater…

Eben: Is there anything in it?
Thalynmar: A person?
Lualyrr: Other than the dude?
Eben: The water, not the…
Lualyrr: Fish? Carp?
Thalynmar: Koi.
DM: The water sees empty.
Thalynmar: (miming eating the water)
DM: You eat the water.
Thalynmar: It’s good.
DM: How does that work?
Raven: You open up your mouth and go nom nom nom.
DM: (incredibly flatly) Huh. Why didn’t I think of that.
Thalynmar: Huh. The DM just went upstairs and didn’t talk to anybody for three weeks.

They call out to the old man and return his bow, but he doesn’t respond. Surveying the area, they realize they don’t even have to go across the bridge or into the pagoda to exit, but recognizing they probably need a gem, they accept that they must do so anyway.

DM: You all step –
Eben: I’m levitating.
DM: You all levitate—
Eben: I’M levitating. I don’t think anyone—
Thalynmar: I levitate too.
Maldrake: We go out to the pagoda, the DM’s like, ‘and that’s the adventure. You all died.’
DM: Levitating somehow killed you. You enter the pagoda. The man gives a brief smile and motions to several silk cushions that are seated around you.
Thalynmar: ‘These’ll muffle my farts.’
Raven: Is there conveniently enough for everyone?
DM: There is!
Eben: He puts poison in all the wineglasses, gathers them up…
Lualyrr: But I’ve been building up an immunity to iocaine powder!
Thalynmar: Inconceivable!
DM: What do you do?
Raven: Maybe we should sit so me and Maldrake are between two others?
Eben: We’re going to make it to the cushions. Whatever the challenge is, it’s not this.

Anticipating riddles or the like, the group reluctantly sits, and with a wave of his hand the man raises an iron teakettle from the rock garden around him. The teakettle has a glaring face on it, which leads to some confusion at who is glaring at them. The man adds water and tea leaves to the kettle, then bows his head.

Eben: Detect magic!
DM: The kettle shimmers with magic of some sort.
Thalynmar: Poison. Poison kettle. He’s trying to kill us all.
Eben: It can’t be as simple as, ‘he gives us poison tea.’
DM: He gives you all poison tea.
Eben: But the tea was poison!

Despite this revelation, they do nothing, and steam at last arises from the kettle.

Thalynmar: A kettle monster emerges!
DM: In fact, a great amount of steam is rising from the kettle!
Lualyrr: Steam elemental!
DM: He rises from his boulder, and with a sweep of his hand, abruptly the pagoda is enclosed in a wall of stone.
Eben: Stone?
DM and Lualyrr: Stone dragon.
Thalynmar: Oh my god, dragon!
Maldrake: Is it real?
DM: How do you know?
Lualyrr: True Seeing.
DM: It’s real. And even as the steam begins to hit your mouths, your noses, and your throat, and it begins to sear, he, with a sneer, sinks beneath the stone.
Eben: He melded into stone!
DM: He did.
Eben: Dispel magic.
Maldrake: That’s a horrible way to kill somebody. You’re a terrible and awesome person, Eben.

Eben succeeds on his dispel check and the magic around the teakettle vanishes, but they still have poison steam to deal with. The DM calls for a DC 13 saving throw against the poison, which makes Thalynmar laugh maniacally. Then: Initiative!

Thalynmar: Wait a minute. The decanter! We can kill ourselves with water!
Maldrake: Finally, it pays off!

Lualyrr is first to act, but a Shatter will hit others. She casts Mordenkainen’s Sword instead, directing the weapon to strike the wall of stone.

DM: Rising from the ground erupts the massive figure, which proves not to be a human. Instead, what stands before you—
Thalynmar: Blagothkus.
DM: Yes. What stands before you is a dao, a genie of the earth! The stone walls melt away as he rises!
Lualyrr: So, do I get an attack of opportunity with my sword?
DM: No.
Lualyrr: That’s stupid.

They sing about Arabian Nights and make various other references, some of which are of questionable relevance. The dao challenges them with his maul, but the PCs refuse to respond and waste their initiative with words, which is historically how this works of course.

DM: Furious at the warlock who ruined his plan by dispelling his magic jar, which would have prevented him from taking the poison damage, he swings his massive maul at Eben. Missing!
Eben: HOW?! It’s the same that it’s been.
DM: 10?
Eben: Yeah.
DM: Hitting! I thought it was slightly higher.

Raven bounces his sword off the dao’s stonelike skin a couple of times and fires his die. Thalynmar promptly crits repeatedly, and then Maldrake bashes it. Eben rises, casts Mirror Image, and then backs away, The DM rolls his attack of opportunity…

DM: Jesus Christ!
Thalynmar: Yay!
Eben: Does that mean I don’t lose my Mirror Image?
Maldrake: Well, he didn’t hit.
Thalynmar: He explodes!
DM: Wow, you guys are getting off easy from this encounter. (scooping up dice)
Maldrake: What happened?! He’s picking up more dice!
Eben: What, did he slam himself with his own maul?
DM: Well, that’s what the actual critical hit result is, but that doesn’t make much sense, so… He swings the maul. Eben ducks underneath it, and it slams into one of the pillars that support the ceiling. The sheer strength of the dao and the momentum of the massive weapon carry it through, and it sweeps out anther pillar, as Raven frantically ducks and Lualyrr barely avoids rising up into it. A third pillar goes down. The ceiling collapses and smashes over the dao’s head. Because he is large, it breaks over him, and by the time the pieces rain down on you the pieces are painful and annoying but not damaging, He lets out a horrified roar of pain, scampers backwards, and then sinks down into the earth, vanishing from sight.
Maldrake: Was that enough to kill him?!
DM: It was enough to trigger his retreat threshold. You failed me, dao, and all your good shit.

Thalynmar smashes open the teakettle and claims the gem inside. Out the exit they head, finding a familiar-looking sundial with the same two shadows. The PCs shrug, convinced they have to collect enough gemstones to solve this problem, but now they aren’t sure where to go again.

Thalynmar: I take the sundial with me.
Maldrake: I want us to be in here for years. And when we exit, it’s a world of dead and fire.
DM: ‘Where were you? Where WERE you?!’
Maldrake: Back in the maze, boys, we can live there forever. I’m gonna live with the cylopses!

The next chamber they find has a massive pool in it, with dark and murky water and a gemstone mysteriously floating in the center of it, above the water. Eben, who had gotten Water Walking as a ritual spell in his spellbook at the beginning of this adventure, lays it on the party. They argue a bit over who’s going out on the water, then decide they’ll all do it for some reason.

DM: The moment you step foot on the water, four hideous beings surge forth from the depth!
Raven: “Hello! Greetings!”
Eben: Ha ha ha!
Thalynmar: Oh, they’re like crayfish.
DM: Chuuls! But in the interest of getting Eben properly home on time, we will end the adventure here….

So they do.