Black Spire III: A Twisted King

The Necromancer's Castle

Urgor sho-Grobor, the orc chieftain, took the party in to the Sword Tribe’s camp on the western side of the mountain. Ace, having promised him the political backing of a dragon, managed to persuade him to help them enter the Black Fortress, an old dwarven hold which the Necromancer had converted to his keep. The orcs, it seemed, had come here in pursuit of the Chief-Stone, that had been held by their tribes for generations.

Eventually, it was decided that Ace, Alice, Alicia and Ironcrow would go see the Club Tribe, who had recently excavated some old dwarven tunnels with the aid of their pet ogres. Meanwhile, Red would investigate the front door to the fortress, sealed by old Dwarven mechanisms that the orcs had failed to open.

Red approached the fortress by stealth, bypassing the re-animated corpses of disgraced dwarves, buried outside the fortress proper. Sneaking past the Axe Tribe orcs guarding the door, he investigated the mechanism and learned how to open it, but decided to leave the door shut for now. He then made to join with the others.

Alice and Ace spoke with the Club Tribe shaman. He gave them the blessing to use the old tunnels, saying they were mentioned in a prophecy that also spoke of great destruction. The Club Tribe served this prophecy, making sure it would come to pass. Evidently they saw Alice in particular as instrumental to it, and the blind old shaman blessed her and healed her wounds.

The “blessing” was unfortunately a double-edged sword, infusing her with extra rage. As Alice accidentally provoked one of the ogre slaves, both her and the ogre lost control of their anger. Alice managed to frighten the ogres away, but started an ogre slave riot in the process, and the liberated ogres charged for the Axe Tribe camp, inciting trouble. In the chaos that ensued, Red joined up with the others, and they all hastily sneaked inside the tunnel, made invisible by Ace.

Through long, winding tunnels in the long-abandoned dwarf fortress, they eventually reached a dining hall. Sudden disaster had befallen the dwarves in a distant past, it seemed. A portcullis blocked the way, and as they opened it, they alerted a flesh golem and three spectres, bound to its constituent parts.

The golem was handily dispatched, after having been slowed by Ace’s fire spells. As it died, though, the group heard a familiar voice – Ofec, the necromancer’s apprentice, slain in Stonehaven. Ofec’s soul had been bound as a guardian, and he begged for them to kill him. He promised to help as best he could in return.

The group progressed up a flight of stairs, fighting off disgraced dwarven wights in the process. Soon they arrived at the necromancer’s lair, at the top of the old fort. Alishia had been badly energy drained in the process, and Alice, too, was suffering the burdens of negative energy.

Ofec manifested again, possessing a crypt guardian outside the door. He warned the heroes of the experimental zombies, sleeping in vats inside the lab. He also kept the crypt thing still, until the heroes could kill it before it had time to unleash its dread teleportation attack.

They crept inside, into a hideous lab full of corpses. Red observed that they were all dwarven and elven, barely any human bodies were there. The zombies did not stir from their vats full of pungent chemicals, however. Soon they progressed to a museum of artifacts from the old human Alkerathi Empire, and the nature of the necromancer became clear to them all – a human supremacist, bent on reuniting Man under one banner again.

Alicia claimed a pair of magical bracers that had once belonged to a human hero. Red laid his hands on a razor-sharp sword, and they also considered taking a gem with the power to control fire elementals, but as it was trapped with a summoning trap, they left it alone.

Ofec was just through the next door. Unfortunately, it was protected by Pretur Ar Nuade – a powerful dragon spell that would teleport any intruder, naked and unarmed, into a tomb full of horrors. Ace tried to dispel it, but couldn’t overcome its strength. They decided to search upstairs, in the necromancer’s private library, for a way to bypass it.

The library was protected by a special failsafe, a magic mouth spell informed them. Kill the library guardian, and the whole place would be set ablaze. The guardian was a stone golem, a terrifying foe in itself. Fortunately, Red deduced how to disarm the failsafe, by removing six torch sconces in a certain order – thereby safely disarming the room-immolating trap. While Alice and Ace lured the golem out the door, Red began to work on stopping the trap.

As the golem left the library, its loud steps woke the zombies in the vats. A chaotic battle ensued, in which the golem was also lured into triggering the summoning trap on the fire gem, drawing down a Shadow Demon. The chaotic free-for-all ended after Alice threw the golem into the Pretur Ar Nuade spell, teleporting it into a tomb, while Ace deep-froze the zombies and Red returned just in time to bisect the demon. Alice, hideously injured, was restored to health only by using almost all the healing resources at their disposal.

They went into the library to research. A number of treasures were found, both there and in the necromancer’s private bedroom (adjoining the library) but the most precious find was a stone containing the memories of a dragon – Razethar, the Red Dragon of Man.

Here, they finally learned the true plot of the necromancer – to bring back Razethar from the dead. The dragon had failed to make a pact with Man three hundred years ago, but after he was slain he left behind instructions on his resurrection. The scattered human kingdoms of today would be unable to resist a would-be emperor with an undead dragon at his command…

They rested in the library, finally learning the true name of the necromancer: Narackamous.

In the morning, they awoke to the sound of orcs, finally making their move on the castle. It seemed they’d sent a team of their own into the tunnels. Ace argued that they should just leave, but Red said he’d made a promise to kill Ofec… and he was going to make good on it.

With this in mind, they headed for the chamber where Ofec was kept. The Pretur Ar Nuade spell triggered by the golem, they could bypass the door and enter a chamber where Ofec’s soul was kept suspended in a giant iron ring serving as a gateway between worlds. Ace deduced that as soon as Ofec was slain, a Devourer would eat his soul and come through the gateway – as Ofec went in, the Devourer would come out.

Offering to deal with this, Ace stayed behind while Red, Alice, Alishia and Ironcrow withdrew by means of Ace’s flying spells. The death of Ofec might cause a dimensional cataclysm, and it’d be foolish and dangerous to stay in the room. Ace heroically dispelled the bindings on Ofec, watched him sucked into the vortex and attempted to teleport away…

…but failed, getting caught in the planar vortex. The castle collapsed, and a wave of negative energy killed many of the Axe Tribe orcs, including their leader.

The Devourer escaped its prison and went after Red and Alice. Just as it was about to charge, a new hero emerged from a hiding place among the rocks: ELFNAME ELF-FACE, the MYSTERIOUS ELF. Armed with a bow and with powerful healing magic, she helped Red and Alice engage the Devourer while Ironcrow and Alicia got the attention of the orcs.

The devourer slain, they withdrew to the cave where ELFNAME had been hiding, watching the orcs from afar as they united under Urgor sho-Grobor’s banner of the Sword.

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