Day 106) 24 Elesias, 1490 DR Continued
This morning after gathering our things together we went over to the clifftop entrance to Ironslag. Aukanthi opened the portcullis, holding it open with his body as we all skipped past. Umbero kissed him as he went by, but Aukanthi tried to call his bluff. It was all very funny, considering the tension we all felt at entering enemy territory.
We found ourselves in a large room with a waterwheel working steadily away, regulating a large elevator down into the mines. We timed it, and got on.
After a long ride down it took us to a level of gantries above the central hall of Ironslag where we found all three of the targets we most wanted: Duke Zelto playing with his hell hounds, the adamantium forge we wanted to explode, and the scaffolded Vonendod in the centre. As the Duke was there we bunkered down and made our plans while we waited for him to leave. Umbero, flying invisibly, went inside the Vonendod and reported back to us that we could do one or two things: steal the giant ruby eye and take it back to Citadel Felbarr as proof, and/or destroy the giant heart of the Vonendod and make it permanently irreparable.
Our plans were as such, given our resources. We planned to destroy the heart using Halani’s spell of Leomund’s Secret Chest (note to self: can sorcerors learn this too? Room for extra pretty dresses on the road!)). In order to do this, we would have to smash the smaller replica chest, thus obliterating the bigger chest on the Ethereal Plane and making the heart so many pieces of irretrievable shrapnel. Then, using Tenser’s Floating Disc (another spell of Halani’s… should I be perhaps studying magic rather than relying on instinct?) we would knock out the one eye and float it along with us as we escaped. Then we would board the lift again and once we were all safe, Ninya could fly down, throw the explosives in the forge, and fly back up to us faster than any of us would be able to manage otherwise. We waited for Duke Zelto to leave.
Once he did, the plan of course did not go exactly to plan. We managed to get Aukanthi Umbero in the Vonendod, and Halani positioned her magical chest just beneath (she had used an Unseen Servant to rescue as many dresses as she could… again, should I be investing in a spell book?). Halani flew under her own power, Umbero under my spell, and Aukanthi from a spell scroll we luckily had in our possession! Also useful was the potion of stone giant strength we found yesterday, which Umbero took. Then, ruining both our crowbars and their melee weapons, the two in the Vonendod pried the heart out and let it drop. Halani, and to a lesser extent me, ready with my Mage Hand spell to nudge the falling heart, managed to get the heart to fall in, the chest to close, and then just in time, as space began to warp, she destroyed the miniature of the chest, exploding it into oblivion on the Ethereal Plane.
At that point everyone flew back up to the gantry to lie low and see if we had gotten away with it (Umbero told me later that he also placed a note in place of the heart saying we did it!). Unfortunately, this was the point where a giant poked his head out of a nearby archway and saw us. We started racing to achieve the rest of our goals. Ninya checked the progress of the lift and ordered us around. Aukanthi and Umbero leveraged the giant ruby eye from its socket and managed to get it to the gantry before it fell, and then rolled it towards the lift. I aided Halani with protective magics as she flew at the giant and polymorphed it into a tiny bug which then fell between the cracks in the gantry and presumably died. We ran back to the lift but not before another giant saw us.
We waited for the lift to reach the very bottom and return, hoping we had gotten away with it, but alas, when the lift reached the floor below us the giant and five ogres stepped on. We let rip with all the firepower we had, including the two golden lion statuettes. We were able to kill all the ogres before the lift was even level with us (not simply ranged attacks though, for Ninya, Aukanthi using my rapier, and the lions jumped down when the lift was halfway to us) and though the fight was very, very tough, and Aukanthi nearly died, we managed to fell the fire giant.
We all lay exhausted on the platform as it rose to the clifftop, but our troubles were not over. Suddenly the lift stalled and we looked down. Duke Zelto was trying to pull us back down! Halani and Aukanthi, still with the flying spell laid on them, flew the remaining distance up. I cast the flying spell on Umbero again, and he and Aukanthi lifted the giant ruby between them. Meanwhile Ninya, her eyes able to see purchase her claws could make where we would find none, began climbing the shaft faster than any spider. As I waited for Umbero to reach the top, the lift platform suddenly wobbled and toppled. I was falling, but as soon as I saw Umbero reach the lip of the shaft, I cast the spell on myself and shot back up, timing it to miss the falling platform.
We were all safe, but the plan was not complete. Halani cast her last flying spell on Ninya, who took the explosives and flew down. Narrowly dodging the chain of the lift which Duke Zelto kept whipping up at her, she flew down into the main hall, dropped the explosives and alchemical ice in the forge, and zipped back up to us. It hadn’t worked. It had broken the forge, but not blown up the whole place.
Disppointed, but in possession of not only the ruby but the knowledge that the Vonendod would never ever work without the heart, we had Aukanthi, greatly wounded, and Halani, concentrating on a spell to help us escape, rest for an hour. The other three of us stood by the elevator shaft and other vantage points, watching out for signs of pursuit. The giants did start amassing, below the cliff. We were worried, but Halani had not been meditating for nothing!
She had gathered up enough magical power to transform herself into a giant bird-like lizard thing (later she told me it’s called a quetzalcoatlus) and she flew us over the giants to Harshnag and the escaped slaves. We all fled back to Citadel Felbarr. We were still, for be honest, fairly disppointed despite our two successes, as not only had we not caved in the forge, but we hadn’t been able to rescue the remaining slaves in Ironslag either.
Day 112) 30 Elesias, 1490 DR
We arrived in Citadel Felbarr two days ago. The dwarves were well pleased with us, though we still smarted from not achieving all our goals. Still, on reflection, I am just happy we made it out alive.
Speaking of which, the King of Citadel Adbar is also alive. The giant owl we sent managed to make it in time. So at least we succeeded there.
The last two days we spent nursing our wounds, planning our shopping when we get back to Waterdeep (not just magical items, but all the pretty dresses and weapons we sacrificed for the cause!), and wondering where we would put our dwarven fortress on the map (by the way, we’re going to house the ruby eye on top of our tower!).
It was while we convalesced that the strangest, most wonderful news came to us. So many threads of stories came together in one day. Today, a bunch of escaped slaves arrived from Ironslag. It has, after all, been ruined! How did this wondrous thing come to pass? Well, we were able to extrapolate the story from putting together what we knew with what the ex-slaves know.
Remember how in Nesme, we learned that the dark elf contacts of the Zhentarrim were fetching something for the fire giants? Turns out, it was a fire primordial from a volcano. Why, why, why would they do something so crazy? Because it turns out, the forge was not hot enough to reactivate the heart of the Vonendod, the heart we had destroyed.
So the dark elves bring the fire primordial in, and their transaction done, they leave. Turns out though, the fire giants have not prepared adequate magics to keep the primordial down. So as it starts to go beserk, the fire giants panic and try to activate the Vonendod. Why isn’t it working?
Oh yeah. We destroyed the heart.
So Ironslag and Duke Zelto are gone.
That’s another giant leader felled by their own arrogance and greed. Could it be possible that I can bring peace to the world by bringing them all to such poetic justice?