Fallen Empire

Malvo's Diary 3-19-16

Spire of Madness pt. 1

Diary,

I find myself writing to you in the failing light of one of MacPherson’s torches. Although I no longer require any such illumination to scribe this missive (thanks to our “benefactor”), I feel it puts my compatriots more at ease to act “normally,” when in their company. In any case, there’s naught much else to do at the moment, save wait for Libero to regain consciousness, but I get ahead of myself.

Since my last entry, our party thought it best to make for the south. A map that was discovered at the farmstead lead us to yet another dig site (this time entirely unpopulated) and then further south, to a tower near a lake. Imagine my annoyance to learn that the existence of the tower was well known to my party and they had never thought to mention it to me. When pressed for further information, Libero recited for me the local legend of the area. Apparently the tower was created by a wizard in the midst of a civil war aeons ago.

At a glance, the tower seemed unremarkable in and of itself, but upon closer inspection one comes to realize its construction is a little too perfect. There’s no doubt to my mind that the structure, while made to look like it was crafted by skilled hands, was brought into being entirely without them. Intrigued as I was to delve into the mysteries of the spire, I was plagued the entire time by an unshakable sense of unease. My companions made mention of feeling the same, as if some aura permeated the grounds. At any rate, we thought it best
to set camp beyond the tower’s wall, away from its influence.

It was that evening that whomever was on watch (was it me? Everything has been such a haze lately) noticed lights not unlike lanterns, moving about the grounds before the tower. When we moved in to investigate, they shot up like ember beetles into the tower’s grand doorway. Perhaps foolishly, we followed them inside. While completely secure during our daylight visit, the tower seemed all too welcoming now, eager to invite us inside. Such was my feeling that I made the quick decision to jam the door open using some nearby deadwood.

Within the antechamber, I no longer had any doubt that the tower’s origin was magical in nature, so ornate and complex was the scrollwork upon the walls and floors. It seemed to shift along the corners of my vision, and more than once I had to touch it to reassure myself it was incapable of movement.

It was in the hallway beyond the antechamber that we were finally greeted. Perhaps more accurately, we were beset upon by four armed, uniformed figures. Before any of us could broach a word, they advanced upon us, arms drawn. During the scrimmage we realized that our attackers were unliving wights. They moved with an unnerving grace, and were silent but for the clang of their weapons when they moved to strike against us. They kept reaching out with their hands in the midst of combat and managed to touch Bark, our druid. We managed to dispatch three of them, and the fourth, displaying a level of intelligence I didn’t think existed in undead creatures such as these, fled into the darkened hallways.

In the ensuing respite, Bark seemed drained from the ordeal. No doubt caused by the foul magic of the wight’s touch upon him. My group moved to explore the hallway opposite of where the wight ran to, but I decided to break from the group and give chase. At any rate, be it by some means of magic, or just architectural craftsmanship that defies normal conventions of thought, we ended up in the same place with only one doorway left unopened. Moving into the room, we discovered the last wight, standing in the corner. He made no move to attack or flee, and simply watched us as we entered. So foolish we were! Too confident in our greater numbers, we never saw the trap until it too late.

We plummeted through darkness for what felt an eternity. Despite plunging into a depth I’m sure would have been fatal, we landed within something gentle, almost welcoming. At first I thought we had fallen into a pool as I could no longer breathe and my vision became distorted, but when I made out the figures of my companions floating in space beside me, I quickly realized we had not fallen into water, but a thick gel. It was when Bark began screaming that I felt the pain. Whatever we had landed in was burning my skin and compressing down upon me from all sides.

I truly have lost all track of time Diary, as we struggled in agony for another eternity. Macpherson was the first to break free, and the rage of his howl brought to my ears the first moment of hope I’d sensed since we crossed beneath the tower wall. Pulling me free of the ooze, the great barbarian went into a frenzy of motion, securing a torch and assaulting the great, slimy mass. Sputtering for air, I was nearly reabsorbed into the effluence and had to quickly retreat. I stood in horror, watching my companions struggle, too scared to assist them.

Macpherson managed to wrest Vix from the grasp of the vile mass and was working on pull Libero free. Gazing through the murk of slime, I saw Bark give one final violent jerk, then go limp. When it was determined that the slime was “dead,” (it no longer retained it’s more rigid form, and was flowing slowly, into the gutter) Vix, Macpherson and I were barely standing, Libero was unconscious, and Bark was dead.

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