The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 12: The Acme Exploding Crossbow Bolt. While Supplies Last
Updated: Jul 20
After a brief layover in Neverwinter the group headed east towards Mirrodin's tower. They hadn't gotten far before the cultists of Baphomet reared their ugly heads again in the form of an ambush.
Sadly, they'd apparently learned the art of the ambush from Elmer Fud, and were spotted by Tanic some distance off. Despite this the alchemist almost killed the rogue with a single exploding crossbow bolt dealing 6d6 damage. Calith reacted in kind by firing an arrow back dealing 1d6 damage. Cursing at the reluctant healer, Tanic downed another of the priceless potions they'd uncovered in Augerhead.
At which point the alchemist's rounds were numbered. She got one more shot off before the combined forces of Zubat, Tanic, Quagrim,and Calith slew her. The other two kept the fighter busy. The fight lasted some time longer, but only because the fighter's ac was quite challenging.
Afterwards the group continued their trek uneventfully, unless you count the constant grumbling of Tanic. And I do mean constant. I don't think he took a breath for two miles. It was just one steady droning monologue about healers that won't heal, over and over again, it was really quite hypnotic . . .
The only other strange thing was that as the group split watches Vex insisted upon taking second watch from now on. She also seemed to have developed a new constitutional routine; when woken she would leave the camp for fifteen minutes before starting her watch. She said it was just personal stuff, but it seemed to the group to take longer than that . . . even for a woman.
Eventually they found Mirrodin's tower nestled into a good sized clearing. It was a spitting image of a small Blackstaff Tower. Apparently that was the easy part though. As they reached out to knock on the door they heard a voice saying:
"Ah, travelers. No I’m not interested in your wares. No I’m not taking in pupils. And no, we didn’t study together."
Eventually, after enough banging (they took shifts) the voice informed them that he was now intrigued and if they could answer three questions correctly they would earn an audience including his illustrious presence. These questions were:
Q) I often ride into Neverwinter on Tuesday to shop. Last time I stayed for two days before returning on Tuesday. How is that possible. A)Tuesday is the name of his horse.
Q) A rather foolish snail fell down a 40 ft tunnel. Every day it made a distance of 4 ft. Every night it slipped back 3 ft while it slept. Assuming the simple creature didn't need to eat, how many days would it take to exit the tunnel? A) 37 days
Q) How do I know if I can trust you? A) Surely a wizard as great as you could never be deceived by such as us!
After the group deliberated on these questions (which was quite some time) and answered the wizard replied with: "You have proven yourself Wise, Intelligent, and Charming. Your virtue is yet to be determined, but you may enter."
The door opened and the voice beckoned them up the stairs in the lower room to where a stereotypical old wizard awaited them. He eyed them each as they ascended, spending extra glare on the gnome. Then he asked what could possibly be so important that they must bother an old man who'd clearly made such an effort to be left alone.
The explanation came haltingly as the old man kept barking at Quagrim to keep his hands where he could see them. He explained that all gnomes were kleptomaniacs of one level or another and that he didn't trust the lot of them.
When the story was finally finished the old man asked to examine the piece they carried. Then he started up another flight of stairs, stopping only to say that they'd better keep an eye on the gnome.
Whether out of a deep seated desire springing from their first meeting or as a manner of earning the wizard's trust Zornesk took this statement as a license to tie the gnome up. When he was finished, and admiring his handiwork, Quagrim announced that this wasn't how you tie someone up. He then untied himself (Christian didn't even have to roll to escape) and retied the knots on himself in a far tighter binding. He then escaped from that and handed the rope back to Zornesk saying "now you try."
Zubat responded by having his eidolon wrap itself around the gnome as tightly as it dared. Feeling that it would be better to cooperate, Quagrim did not choose to succeed at another escape check. Shortly thereafter Mirrodin continued his ascent, looking as if experiencing a migraine.
Mirrodin wasn't gone long. He confirmed that his was one piece of the ax Arumdina, but informed the rather screwy group that they couldn't have it. He was then shocked to discover that they didn't know that Arumdina was the ax once held by Garl Glittergold before his disappearance some thousands of years before.
The group wondered that Khelban hadn't mentioned that to them. At the mention of the Blackstaff, Mirrodin did the last thing they would have expected: he warned them away, saying that Khelban couldn't be trusted. When asked why, he said simply that he and his friends had been them many years ago, and that he was the only one to survive. They asked if Khelban was evil. He said he didn't think so. It was just that the ancient wizard had been alive and fighting evil for so long that he sometimes forgot that his chess pieces were people.
When it became clear that they were hellbent to proceed, he offered each a +1 stat tome. Sensing they could get a little bit more out of the frazzled old man they asked if he could remove the tracking curse.. He succeeded only for Vex but asked why they hadn't asked the High Priestess in Neverwinter to try. Feeling stupid (as intended) they said they would. He offered to write them a letter of introduction.
However he would not give them his piece of the ax. Instead he told them that while they were busy with collecting the other pieces he'd attempt to discern how to reunite them and release Garl.