An official invitation has been delivered to your doors. The scholarly praise of the Arcane Akademy has selected you, petitioning your group to attend a lecture and forum to discuss the anatomy, behaviours and combat techniques of the Scathebeast. It seems news of your triumph in the dune sea has travelled fast, and many are interested in your encounter with the mythical monstrosity.
Keen to share your tales of heroism, hopeful in your ability to exchange such knowledge for money, or power, or an impressionable sorcerous student from the sorority, you all gather together to recount your memories at the Akademy.
An instructor, Tevors, meets you at the revolving gates of the Abu Ma’shar, ushering you within its rumbling walls. Polite and friendly, he takes you about a brief tour of the grounds, showing you areas you did not wander through during your last visit to Sahireen the Warder. The arboretum, the dormitories, the astrolabe and the Headmaster’s Hall are shown by your guide. You are introduced to a dozing headmaster, who cuts Tevors short with an angry bellow, sending you skittering out. It seems that the headmaster is not yet ready to participate in the forum, so Tevors instead directs you to an arcane duel some students are starting, to pass the time.
As a young swordmage adept squares off against an apprentice warlock, something stirs amongst the magical energies in the training fields. Sounds of whirring cogs and spinning metal drown out the clashes of dulled practice blades, as the practice mannequins suddenly burst to life, shaking off their binding schema and tearing themselves from their supports. Lunging violently at the students, the dummies knock a few to the ground before Elika and Sebastian can leap into the front line.
The animated machinations of the programmed warriors are no match for the battle-hardened combat experience of the heroes, as they are quickly smashed into the ground, battered and shattered. Tevors and a Tir wizard, Obrak, come rushing to protect the students and attend to the wounded.
Anger flares when Tevors confirms your suspicions, that this sort of malfunction has never happened before. Aych’s growing paranoia is barely kept in check as Tevors pontificates on a solution. The instructor informs you of a tome, Holman’s Treatise on the Imbuement and Maintenance of Armed Conflict Training Mannequins, deep within the Lost Secrets Library, that will shed some light on the original enchantments placed upon the practice mannequins. Tevors implores the party to seek the tome out while he attends to his students, and gives them a small crystal shard that will guide them to the Library to their destination.
Through sensations of warmth and chill, the guiding crystal leads you quickly through the first floor, which is a well-lit warren of book-filled nooks and crannies thoroughly seeded with comfortable chairs and desks. Once you reach the back stairwell, the journey becomes more surreal. The crystal guides you down several flights, then leads you out onto a floor that appears identical to the first floor but has no windows or students. It glides up a flight of stairs, into a small corridor that opens into another flight of stairs, and then down another two levels to a door.
Elika opens the door, as the rest of the group cautiously wander into the library. A large sphere set in the ceiling gives off a flameless glow, and the dry smells of cracked leather and ancient paper from the shelving in the walla nd the freestanding wooden cabinets hang in the air. The door slams shut behind Aych as she enters, and the room falls into complete darkness before the sphere in the ceiling flickers back to life, though it does not shine as brightly as before. A pair of luminescent eyes watches you through the gaps in the freestanding bookcases, and a chorus of whispered voices sounds in your ears, “I was never allowed to leave. Neither shall you be.”
Phasing through the walls and shelves, ethereal poltergesits hurl bolts of kinetic energy at you, smashing into the tall bookcases and toppling them over, covering Gavri’el in a shower of scattered parchments and chapters. The lithe elf leaps out from the mound of tomes, like a trapdoor spider, and joins with the Sarosh sorcerer in an artillery war, exchanging missiles with the ghosts. Sebastian and Elika struggle with the skirmishing spirits, pushing the other shelves to the ground to get a clear line of sight at the phasing assailers, and to protect themselves from the toppling tomes. As the last poltergeist is defeated, its insubstantial body collapses inward and manifests a thin book, which drops to the floor. Rejoicing, you move to pick it up, but are disappointed when it’s title does not match Holman’s tome that you seek.
Gavri’el’s keen eyes skim the book titles and spines, disqualifying any with titles too short or not correct, and finds the book in good time. Turning to leave, Aych finds the door sealed shut. Quickly identifying the magical aura around the door, the sorcerer skillfully unweaves the minor spell of binding that was used to seal the group inside the chamber; presumably until they starved and joined the poltergeists in death.
Stepping back out into the halls of the Lost Secrets Library, the group soon get lost and disoriented in the maze. Walking down flights of stairs brings them back into previously visited rooms, and corridors double back upon themselves. There are no windows to help guide their way, and the party are untrained in the ways to combat such dungeons. After a number of twists and turns, the group realises that the library is reacting to what the party says and does, such as putting them in a room with comfortable chairs when Sebastian complains of weariness. After some thought, you surmise that there must be some sort of guiding mind, one that can be fooled or dealt with perhaps.
Relying on her naturally deceptive mind, Aych bluffs the library, moving to open one door then dashing to another. After a few such tricks, the party finds a window through which they can climb to escape. Tumbling out of the library into the open air, you look up to find Obrak, the Tir wizard, standing above you, informing you that Tevors awaits the party at the arboretum, by the sundial.
The arboretum welcomes you with exotic foreign trees and bushes that exude several scents, some sharp and some soothing, and they are engaging to the eye. Even the small landscaped fen is pleasant to walk past. A short stone-and-brass sundial stands at a widening of the path ahead, and a bench stands near it, but there is no sign of Instructor tevors. Standing close to the sundial, you marvel at how time seems to slow down, but you do not have long to ponder this before Gavri’el shouts out an alarming warning.
Bark-skinned humanoids camouflaged against the bark of nearby trees and writhing masses of vines rise from the nearby swampy ground. From the fen erupts a shambling mound, flanked by vine horrors that send out shocking orbs of crackling energy. Elika engages with the plantoid brute, and suffers greatly from a heavy rain of blows, becoming enveloped within the beast countless times. Blades of grass shift, and the faintest ripple in the air precludes the lurking arborean reaper, who shifts in and out of visibility to harry the arcane heroes, stopping them from aiding their frontline fighters. The fight is tooth and nail, as the party struggle, but ultimately succeed agaisnt the surprise attack from the swamp.
It is obvious that something is not right, and you go searching for answers. The true perpetrator is unknown, as you consider two suspects. Is it Tevors that is trying to dispose of you, or is it the Obrak, who has directed you to danger ever since you met him? Asking a student at the administrative hall, you are told that Obrak is currently lecturing, and Tevors was last seen heading to an audience with Headmaster Marovic.
Choosing to question Tevors first, you dash towards the headmaster’s residence. Through the magister’s wrought-iron fence, you see a person in a heavy sky-blue robe standing over the headmaster, where a moment and a few steps ago you saw nothing. Though you can’t make out the details, something about the person looks askew. Moving about outside of the fence, the illusory effect comes and goes. Sending Nebrakazool forward, Dharzon uses his familiar to break through the threshold of the magical veil. Pushing forward past the gate, you can see now what bothered you about the person standing over the headmaster. Six thin, blue-skinned arms emerge from beneath the robe, two of which are tracing patterns in the air towards Marovic. The creature’s head looks completely alien as it turns toward you.
Fingers flash forward, signalling binding arts and evoking elemental forces. With deft strikes, the spell weaver touches Elika, banishing her to a mirrored plane. Sebastian hurls himself at the alien, but is promptly hurled aside by esoteric force, the blue-skinned controller blasting the warlord through the glass double-doors and skidding along the ground into the house.
Gavri’el skulks in the shadows as the weaver teleports up onto a balcony overlooking the courtyard, but is knocked off by an accidental, uncontrolled burst of wild chaos magic unleashed by Aych. Returning from her planar prison, Elika pushes through the house to the stairwell, joining with Sebastian in an effort to trap the alien inside the house. The surrounding wall of steel and iron poses little threat for the weaver, who continues to banish the fighters with binding signs.
Clearly targeting the arcane heroes, the spell weaver attempts to collect and harvest Dharzon’s arcane soul, but the eccentric Kshathran warlock’s mind is a puzzle the alien cannot fathom. Cornered and surrounded, the weaver fights back with repulsing blasts of force, flametrap invocations and chilling runes of arctic frost. Combining arcane and martial might, the party cleave through the alien’s six-arms, carving red slashes through its sky-blue robe, until it crumples to the ground. The fallen body of the weaver shimmers with chromatic light, as bright twinkling orbs spill out, pockets of extracted arcane energy returning to their original souls.
Marovic stands now by his own power, if only barely, and thanks the party. The magical veil now dropped, students and teachers rush to the residence to see what’s happening. Obrak is among the crowd, but Tevors is not. Examining the crumpled body of the weaver, Marovic finds a crumpled page, torn from Holman’s Treatise on the Imbuement and Maintenance of Armed Conflict Training Mannequins.
It seems the spell weaver had infiltrated the Abu Ma’shar, in an attempt to lurk within its feeding grounds, and collect arcane souls for its voracious appetite. Marovic had discovered the alien’s presence, but was caught off-guard by its strength and had been unprepared to fight off the weaver’s attacks while simultaneously trying to protect the students.
Once rested, the headmaster is able to hold the forum dsicussion on the Scathebeast as planned. The party hold an entire lecture hall entranced by their stories of battling the mythical beast amongst the shifting sands of the dune sea. You are rewarded with magical trinkets, training in many rituals and enchanted armour. The members of the Abu Ma’shar will not soon forget your deeds within the akademy’s walls.
Group XP: +1120 (9662 total)
Gold: +870 gp (3000 total)
Treasure: Summoned Hide Armour +2, Bracers of Archery, Gloves of Eldritch Admixture, Map of Orienteering