After telling her story, Bay-Wynn motioned for us to cut the head off of the mummy. Bay-Wynn still held onto the magical cage that we had gained from the ancient dwarf shortly after I entered this place. The magic in the cage had not diminished. After we placed the head of the mummy in this cage, we were able to learn from the mummy that his “master” lay ahead. Soon, this adventure would be over, for good or for ill.
The corridor ahead was lined with sconces holding candles that burned with an intense white light. Ruins were spotted on the wall of the corridor signifying “death” in a least a dozen languages. We cautiously approached the end of the corridor where there was a kind of plug with a handle on it. We speculated that this may be one of the seals that Bay-Wynn spoke of, so we hesitated. We did not want to release the seal and unleash the Whispering Tyrant upon the world. Osric detected magic on the candles in the corridor, but surmised that the unnatural light that they burned with was their only magical ability. After pondering our situation for a while, Pint gave us his confidence that we had left no other region of these ruins unexplored. We realized that there was no reasonable option but to move forward. Bertha detected no mechanical trap on the plug, and proceeded to pull the plug, revealing a curved path ahead.
Bertha felt herself pulled into the path ahead and began to float in the absence of gravity along the path. As Bertha floated along, she was rammed by a floating sphere that accelerated into her. A couple of other spheres flew by her, narrowly missing her. One by one, we each ran this gauntlet of the spheres. Many of us were harmed by the colliding spheres before we reached the end of the path, where we found ourselves faced with another plug.
Mira was able to open the second plug, and we quickly passed through the portal beyond into a long corridor leading to a rotunda. In the distance, at the center of this rotunda we saw a machine of some kind, a complicated network of gears. Ten ghouls stood before this machine, guarding our path to it. Above the network of gears we saw a terrifying sight. Levitating above the machine, there was a hideous animated body with entrails hanging out from the pelvic inlet.
Bay-Wynn was the quickest out of the portal and she pressed forward. Two of her arrows found their mark, staggering two of the ghouls. I reached out instinctively to heal Pint and Osric as they pulled themselves out of the portal. As soon as I felt the power go out of me, Pint and Bertha charged toward the ghouls and Osric ran up to protect Bay-Wynn’s let flank. Six of the ghouls enveloped Bertha and Pint, and they were cut off from the rest of us. The remaining four ghouls rushed toward Bay-Wynn and Osric. Mira, with the poise of an experience fighter, was waiting for the move and countered it, rushing to Bay-Wynn’s right to chop down one of the ghouls with one blow. Bay-Wynn stepped back and launched arrows into another ghoul from point blank range.
Meanwhile, Bertha felled one ghoul of the six surrounding her and Pint as Pint went into a berserk rage. I channeled power from Gozreh, killing one of the remaining three ghouls in separating us from Pint and Bertha, and injuring the two others. The ghouls responded to this evidently seeing me as the greatest threat, and attacked me brutally, wounding me in several places. An animated sword then appeared out of the corner to slash at the unsuspecting Mira. Mira slashed back at the sword and a loud ring filled the rotunda when her axe met the sword. Bay-Wynn fired again with her bow, dropping another ghoul and Bertha killed another ghoul bettering her odds to four against two. I tried to cast a lightning bolt on the last ghoul facing me, but it was no more than a very potent spark.
With its shock troops whittled down, the Lich finally went into action, flying out from its perch above the gears to ram Osric, knocking him to the floor, while the remaining ghoul followed and savagely attacked the helpless wizard. Before I was able to react, the animated sword flew over and attacked me from the side, bloodying me further. An instant later, Mira countered that attack killing the ghoul that had just attacked me.
At this point, Berta and Pint faced four ghouls, while Mira, Bay-Wynn and I faced the Lich and the magic sword with the wizard Osric lying prone before us. The Lich was horrifying and my instincts were telling me to flee. But Bay-Wynn had begun to sing a spell to inspire courage and my heart no longer faltered. Bertha attempted a feint, stumbled, and still caught a ghoul frozen by the move. Bertha seized this momentary advantage to slip behind the ghoul and kill it with one blow.
Gaining composure, I channeled the power again to grant healing to those within my range. Osric cast a fireball killing two of the remaining three ghouls and seriously scorching the other. Then, Mira was hit by the magic sword as she attempted to seize it and the Lich took its revenge upon Osric, knocking him down a second time. Pint was ragged with fatigue, but finally killed the last ghoul, enabling the party to focus all of its power upon the dreaded Lich.
I went to the aid of Osric again and cast my most potent healing spell upon him. Osric sprung to his feet and cast a lightning bolt at the Lich. The Lich returned fire with a lightning bolt of his own that burned into Bay-Wynn, Osric and I in a line, but Osric was able to dodge the worst of it. I channeled again to heal as many as I could reach. Then, Osric cast a fireball on the Lich, who responded by slamming Osric to the ground yet again. The Lich tried to drain Osric of his will, but Osric resisted. Mira was able to seize the sword on her second attempt, as Bay-Wynn continued to fire arrows without finding a vulnerable target. I channeled healing power again as Bertha charged into the frey.
Osric rose again with the toughness of a prize fighter and he summoned an air elemental to our aid. Pint, knowing that it was impossible to harm the Lich with his main weapon, pulled out his sling and hit the Lich square in the forehead. Bay-Wynn used her staff of power to heal Osric again. I cast a spell of holy power against the Lich, who was then struck by an acid arrow from Osric. Pint rushed with his next sling attack, dropping the bolt and needing to reload. Bertha stood before the Lich exclaiming that it’s time was at an end. The expression on the Lich’s face grew despondent. It knew that it was defeated. It fought on only to try to take some of us down with it. I cast lightning on the Lich and Osric seemed to shimmer and then disappear from my view. The Lich cast a scorching ray of fire back at me in desperation. Then the air elemental hit the Lich.
Finally, Pint let loose a sling bolt and Bay-Wynn let loose arrows that both found their mark, and the Lich fell backward with a mighty crash. The battle for the temple and the control of the seals had ended, for now. We realized that we were not strong enough to tangle with the Whispering Tyrant. When we get back to Falcon’s Hollow, we must see to it that the approach to this place has a guard placed upon it, and travelers are warned to stay clear of the temple.
After all the adventure and some petty squabbles along the way, we have survived and likely saved the region from impending ruin. I do still don’t know what caused Bay-Wynn to have a change of heart, or even if she did indeed have such a change of heart. But seeing Pint and Bay-Wynn nearly come to blows and then team together to bring down the Lich, I began to ponder what it takes to build a successful team like the one we had become. My thoughts went to the words of a famous cleric of another god:
Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you." There may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.
This is for me the greatest definition of a team, that if one part suffers, all parts suffer with it. If one part is honored, all parts share some measure of that honor. What then about the individual members? For this, I turn to a poem about a man entering into marriage called, The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet. The poem explained that it took a measure of each of those persona to commit to another person for life. I think it may take the same three persona for a human to be able to place his life in the hands of a couple of dwarves, a couple of elves and a half-orc. Yet, it turns out that my answer to Bay-Wynn’s question is that my place in the world is beside them!
For the people of Falcon’s Hollow who have suffered so much, the poem says:
Let this be the last day
where tears roll down your face
savor the sadness and pain,
for tomorrow will be a new day.
Pack your bags and be ready ‘cos
Tomorrow we’ll ride across the plain
Headed to the place where
They specialize in happy endings
and where none of our fears remain