Anvilbender's Second Darkness

Part Three: Witchlight

After the battle with the “zombies” the PCs hear, coming from atop the main tower, “Stop there! Say something so I know you’re alive.” This voice is recognizable as Samaritha Beldusk, cyphermage friend to the PCs. She encourages the PCs to come to the tower immediately, warning them to be quick, as monsters have been lurking in the nearby woods.

Once the PCs are inside the tower with her, Samaritha leads them into area B5d to speak with them. She suspects that the “monsters” have noticed the PCs as well and might be massing for another attack, so she sends one of her cyphermages up top to area B5f to keep a watch before she bombards the PCs with questions, particularly asking them if they’ve encountered any of the “monsters” yet. She doesn’t know what to call them, only that they’re ferocious, resistant to magic, probably venomous, and that those whom the creatures kill arise as zombies. She breathlessly and quickly recounts the story of her time on the island, and ends by practically begging the PCs to heal her injured companions and then lead them off the island to safety.

Samaritha and her companions are all wounded to one degree or another, but she’s quick to point out that none of them have been bitten by the monsters—an important distinction, she says, since those who were bitten and then later died rose as zombies. She points to the void zombies as an example if she saw the PCs fighting against them. Unless the PCs come up with a much better plan, Samaritha wants to remain holed up here in the relative safety of the tower until a ship arrives, at which point she’s willing to risk the journey downhill to rescue (provided the PCs are there to help protect her and her fellow wizards).

If the PCs ask Samaritha or the other cyphermages about drow sightings on the island, they shake their heads—they’ve seen no dark elves during their time here. Of course, no matter what the PCs decide to do, things change quickly when the monsters move in to lay siege to the tower one last time.

The Akata Siege

Suddenly, a cyphermage guard atop the tower cries out an alarm: “Here they come again!” Samaritha’s face grows pale with fear and she races downstairs to make sure that the door to area B4 is closed tightly, telling the PCs that the monsters have often launched attacks on the tower after anyone spends a significant amount of time wandering around outside. She’s not sure why the creatures didn’t attack the PCs earlier, but suspects that their activity cycles might have something to do with it.

The PCs rush to the windows. Garrosh moves to the main door on the bottom floor to help defend that area. Mr. M rushes to the top of the tower to view what is happening. A horde of monsters surge out of the surrounding forest. The alien monsters are unnaturally silent as they move,
and shockingly fast and limber, their bodies moving with a strangely nauseating grace as they gallop into the ruins. Some of the creatures stop to paw at any bodies or pieces of gear left outside. In all, two dozen of the horrific creatures participate in the attack, more than twice the number seen in previous assaults. The cyphermages respond to this unexpected increase in the
number of akatas with shock—but Samaritha admits she feared their numbers were growing.

As the wave of akatas reaches the tower, the beasts begin scrambling up the sides and scratching at its foundations. The creatures hammer and claw and bite at the tower’s windows and door. Its clear that the window shutters won’t hold forever, although they seem fairly strong for the moment. Suddenly a shutter near Erevis, in the room that holds the wounded cyphermages. Downstairs, near Garrosh, a window bursts completely, allowing the alien creatures to enter, albeit slowly and only one at a time. Garrosh moves up stairs to defend the entrance to the infirmary, with Inari at his back.

Shortly after the siege begins, a tremor shakes the entire tower. This drops Erevis, many of the Cyphermages and one or two of the monsters to the ground. The tremor lasts only a few seconds, but afterward the tower has a barely perceptible lean to the south. The sudden weight of all the dense-bodied akatas is finishing the job the meteor began—the weakened cliffside under the watchtower’s foundations is about to give way.

A few rounds later, a second tremor shakes the tower. It quickly becomes apparent that this tremor is much more significant. The tower sags southwest, causing everyone in the tower to fall to the ground. A terrible noise like endless thunder grows louder by the moment.

The next round, the ground gives way. The stone tower topples over onto its side, throwing every creature against the (now horizontal) western wall. This throws most everyone to the ground, again.

The round after the tower falls, it begins rolling down the steep slope toward the waters of the lagoon below. Immense cracks begin radiating up along the sides of the tower as it follows a landslide of rock and rubble downward. Everyone inside the tower are carried along for a harrowing ride, but the tower’s shape serves to help slow the fall somewhat. The aliens clinging
to the side of the tower scramble for purchase—some tumble away to join the rocks and dirt on the fall into the sea below, while others cling to the outside of the tower only to be crushed as it rolls over onto them.

Those inside the tower aren’t completely protected. As the tower rolls down the side of the ridge, a few aliens manage to get inside the tower, either through torn-open windows or via the increasing number of large holes appearing in the tower’s magically constructed walls as it continues its violent descent.

At the bottom of the slope, the tower plunges into the sea. The impact is softened by the water, and characters within the tower are automatically knocked prone unless they were bracing on the previous round. This final impact slays a number of cyphermages that had been injured during the harrowing ride to the sea. The tower’s magical construction prevented it from completely collapsing, but enough holes exist now that the waves swiftly rush in. The PCs have little trouble clambering out of the tower and onto the beach. The water here isn’t deep enough to completely submerge the fallen tower, but it is enough to damage the aliens, as the salt water acts as an extremely powerful acid on those creatures. The surviving and conscious aliens thrash
in freakishly silent agony as the salt water eats away at them.

Sam flies the PCs and remaining cyphermages up to the top of the ridge. After a short discussion, the group decides to head out to Zincher’s camp for the hope of shelter against the alien monsters…

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