Recap February 22, 2019

The group first did research on Xonthal’s Tower.

Xonthal’s Tower is legendary among the wizards and tale-spinners of Faerun for its unusual magical defenses, including a magical hedge maze that surrounds it. He traveled across Faerun and beyond, reaching distant Zakhara and Kara-Tur. His work focused on conjuration and elemental evocation.

Over a century ago, the wizard kicked his apprentices out and sealed the tower. No one knows what Xonthal has been up to in the intervening decades, or whether he’s even still alive. Some think he must have become a lich, while others believe he’s just dead. All that’s certain is that the hedge maze remains a frustrating barrier, and the spells and wards protecting the tower against entry remain as powerful as ever.

Spreading out along the edge of the hedge maze is a village, also called Xonthal’s Tower. The settlement began as a place where Xonthal’s many apprentices established homes of their own. The village is smaller now than in the tower’s heyday, but about three hundred people still live there.

They then used a portal to go to the Manor House where they used the Scrying Fountain to check out Xonthal’s Tower. Using the letter as a focus they were able to check out the village and the hedge maze but the tower they could not get a clear image of. They decided to avoid the village as that might alert cultists to their presence. They instead decided to teleport just to the other side of the tower and walk the path to the entry gates to the hedge maze.

As they prepared to step onto the garden path, they noticed movement high up on the tower. A human male dressed in black robes stands on the balcony, waved something over his head. It’s hard to make out details from this distance, but it might be a blue mask. “Friends,” the figure screamed, “they saw you! I’ve taken the mask, but they’ll realize it’s missing within minutes! Look for me beneath the tower, for it’s the only place I have a chance to hide. This is the key that will let you teleport into the dungeon.” As he spoke, the figure held aloft a second item— some sort of white, glimmering hourglass. “I will leave it behind after I use it, but others may find it before you do.”

The speaker looked over his shoulder as another figure suddenly dashed out onto the balcony. A flash of blades and spell-fire erupts. Then the figure who spoke pitches his attacker over the railing before dashing back inside.

They looked down the path and followed it.

You’ve entered an intersection where eight paths converge symmetrically. You can see Xonthal’s Tower dead ahead above the hedge wall, but the way the paths curve, there’s no telling which one might lead to it. A sundial stands in the center of the intersection, the shadow from its gnomon pointing straight toward the tower— which is highly odd, because the sun isn’t behind you. Your shadows point in the proper direction. Only the sundial’s shadow points ahead.

They were not sure what to do so they cast Fly on everyone but Thoravil who picked up Stumbleduck on his Broom of Flying and they set off to the tower. They arrived and noticed no entrances on the tower. They could not even get to the balcony they had seen Iskander on. In fact, they did not see the mage’s body that Iskander had thrown off just moments before. They did see an exit from the hedge maze. They realized they would need to travel through the hedge maze in order to find the entrance to Xonthal’s Tower.

They decided to follow their shadows and not the one that came from the gnomon on the sundial. They walked for several seconds and then they entered an area.

Filling the center of this eighty-foot-square courtyard is a circular pool of water sixty feet across. The water is dark and murky, reducing visibility to about one foot. A garnet gemstone hovers one foot above the center of the pool. Another path leaves the area through the hedge wall on the far side of the pool, directly opposite where you entered.

They did not want to deal with the water so they turned around and after a short walk they were back at the sundial with the shadow from the gnomon pointing towards the tower. They decided to take that path. A short time later they arrived at another sundial in the center of eight paths. This time there were two shadows coming from the gnomon of the sundial, one towards the tower and one directly to the east. Confused, they took the path to the north leading towards the tower. After a short walk:

The curving path you follow suddenly twists to reveal a proper maze cut out of the surrounding hedges. Moments later, the pounding of hooves rings out, and a large metal bull charges out of the greenery toward you.

They went defensive as the metal bull breathed a green gas. Only those in the front were effected but they saw several diamonds crystallizing from the green gas. Realizing that the gems they had seen in the pool courtyard and in this maze area may have something to do with gaining entrance to the tower, they grabbed one of the diamonds and headed for the entrance that suddenly appeared at the far end of the maze. They made a run for it and soon found themselves back the second sundial with the two gnomon shadows pointing to the tower (north) and to the east.

They then took the path to the east. After a short walk:

A placid pond fills the center of this open space. A stout pagoda rises from a huge boulder that stands in the water like an island. An arched bridge crosses the water to the pagoda, whose red roof is held up by six sturdy pillars and capped with carved fish. A human male wearing yellow silk robes embroidered with red and gold fish stands in the pagoda. You hear exotic music being played on a stringed instrument.

The man waited for the group to approach. As they got closer to motioned to them to take seats in the pagoda on silk pillows. He then sat on the rock that was in the middle of a rock garden made of decorative stones and brushed sand. A charcoal pit smolders beside the boulder where the man sits.

A stone tea pot rises from the charcoal pit. The kettle resembles a scowling face with thick features. Mason recognizes the face but cannot figure out where he has seen it before. The man pours clear water from a clay jug into the kettle and adds tea leaves. He bows to the kettle and shows great reverence to the vessel, then lowers his head in meditation.

The group quickly realized that he was not brewing tea, but drakeswort, a potentially lethal herb. They began to look around for a way out when a Wall of Stone enclosed them inside the pagoda. The man they melded into the rock and sunk into the boulder. A few of the group were sure they saw the face on the stone teapot begin to smile.

Mason used an earth spell to open an exit in the Wall of Stone. The others began to attack the stone tea pot. Once the tea pot was destroyed a dao, a large earth elemental that resembles a dwarf appeared and began to attack the group. It did not take long and soon the dao was defeated leaving behind an intact stone teapot. They looked inside it and found a jade gemstone. Picking it up they made a hasty exit and found themselves back at the second sundial once more.

They then took the pathway between the north path and the east path. After a short walk they found themselves at a third sundial in the center of eight paths. This time the shadows from the gnomon showed to the north path, the southeast path and the southwest path. Even more confused they took a random path. After a short walk

Six suits of ornate plate mail stand in this area as if on guard. Battered and bashed pieces of armor and weapons are scattered across the carpeted floor before them. Moss and lichen cover the armor, though it remains free of rust. Another pathway opens up at the far side of this area.

As soon as they entered this area several of the suits of armor animated. They quickly dropped one and in the wreckage of armor they found a large bloodstone. One of them picked it up and made a move to the exit. After a short walk they were back at the third sundial in the center of eight paths.

They went each of the paths and found themselves seeing the areas they had already been to. Nothing seemed to work to get them further towards the tower. One of them remembered they had not gone down the path they had entered from. They went down it and after a short walk:

They came upon a fourth sundial. This time it had 4 shadows coming from its gnomon. One to the northeast, one to the southeast, one to the southwest and one to the northwest.